Taiwan Beauty Snake Care Guide

Common Name: Taiwan/Taiwanese Beauty Snake, Stripe Tail Ratsnake
Widely accepted Scientific Name: Orthriophis taeniurus friesi (WERNER, 1926)
Previous Scientific Name: Elaphe taeniura friesi
Longevity: Captive Taiwan Beauty Snakes may live between 15 and 20 years

Etymology
Orthriophis
Greek: Orthrios means early, rising at the first dawn or very early in the morning
Greek:  ophis ... Snake
taeniurus
Latin: taenia meaning stripe
Greek: oura meaning tail
friesi
Named after: Mr. Fries

Ventral Scale Count: 243-262
Sub-Caudal: 96-123
Dorsal: 25





Introduction

There are several species of Beauty Snake as listed below, but the Taiwan beauty is the one that is most commonly encountered in the hobby. All the subspecies are commonly called Beauty Snakes and prefixed with either the place where they occur eg; Taiwan, Chinese or are named in honor of someone eg: Mocquards. Sometimes the common name prefix is dropped and regardless of subspecies they are simply called Beauty Snake; this has led to some confusion with identification.

The name 'Taiwan Beauty Snake', because it is the subspecies that is widely available and heard of, has been used to describe lesser known subspecies such as the Chinese beauty when it is encountered in the hobby. This is most evident when Albino & other morphs of the Chinese Beauty Snake entered the hobby and are/were commonly called Taiwan Beauty Snakes by breeders and reptile shops as this is the subspecies with which they are most familiar.

The Taiwan Beauty Snakes are possibly the most popular of all Asian Ratsnakes for its colourful and beautifully patterned body and it's large impressive size.

A Brief Taxonomic History


Taiwan Beauty Snakes are classified in the family Colubridae, which resides in the subfamily Colubrinae, they further belong to the genus Orthriophis, species taeniurus, finally being recognised to subspecies level of friesi (or to give them their full trinominal name, Orthriophis taeniurus friesi) . The species taeniurus has seven recognized subspecies and a further three which are yet to be assigned to a subspecific level.

Subspecies
Chinese Beauty Snake Orthriophis taeniurus taeniurus
Taiwan Beauty Snake Orthriophis taeniurus friesi
Mocquards Beauty Snake Orthriophis taeniurus mocquardi
Ryukyu Striped tail Ratsnake Orthriophis taeniurus schmackeri
Yunnan Beauty snake Orthriophis taeniurus yunnanensis
Indonesian Beauty snake Orthriophis taeniurus grabowskyi
Cave Dwelling Ratsnake Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi
Blue/Yellow Beauty Orthriophis taeniurus callicyanous
Helfenberger's Beauty Snake - Orthriophis t. helfenbergeri

First described in 1926 by WERNER, it was then assigned to the genus Coluber; in 1935 POPE proposed that the genus Elaphe be used, which is where it remained until recently. Although previously both MELL in 1929 & MAKI in 1931 had proposed Elaphe taeniura as a species for the Taiwan Beauty Snake, they both ascribed new subspecific names in error, MELL with vaillianti and MAKI with friesei.

In 2002 Utiger, Schätti, Helfenberger and colleagues demonstrated that along with some other Asiatic ‘Elaphe’ species, that the Beauty Snakes were more closely related to three other species than the former all encompassing Elaphe genera. So a new genus was made to hold the Beauty Snakes, Orthriophis. This new genus as well as the Beauty Snakes (Orthriophis taeniurus) contains Cantors Ratsnake (Orthriophis cantoris), Hodgsons Ratsnake (Orthriophis hodgsoni) and Moellendorffs Ratsnake (Orthriophis meollendorffi).

Such name changes are common, as studies into Ratsnake systematics shed more light on the understanding of the relationship (phylogeny) between them, and subsequently their evolution from a single common ancestor or their monophyletic relationship. A paraphyletic relationship differs in that not all of the descendants are represented in a particular lineage.

The proposal above is readily accepted by those who wish to differentiate between Asiatic ‘Racer-like Ratsnakes’ and their more Elaphe-like Ratsnake cousins e.g. E. schrencki, E. dione, E. climacophora.

Along with the new genus name came a gender change of the species name, from the feminine taeniura to the masculine taeniurus. The same kind of gender change is reflected in the North American Pantherophis genera, at species level it can be seen that the suffix 'us ' is applied instead of the feminine 'a ', for example guttata (female) and guttatus (male).

Natural History:

The Taiwan Beauty Snake is endemic to the island of Taiwan, where it can be found at altitudes of up to 3,281ft (1000m). They inhabit a wide variety of landscapes, from rocky areas with low vegetation, to forests and areas near water. It is a diurnal, semi-arboreal species that will also enter human settlements in search of food. Unfortunately these snakes were seen as a delicacy in their native country and are often found in the food markets and menus of Taiwanese restaurants, as well as being used in traditional medicine. Their skin is also highly prized, being popular in the manufacturing of handbags and shoes for the fashion market. Taiwan Beauty Snakes are now protected in Taiwan, where it is an offence to own one.

Their diet in the wild consists of Rodents, Birds and their eggs, Lizards and Bats.

Captive origin:

First bred by Dr Rainer Fesser who was lucky enough to legally acquired a pair of wild caught Taiwan Beauty Snakes. This species is protected by Taiwan law and the exportation of them is forbidden,recently the keeping of this species in Taiwan has also been made illegal.

In 1970 Dr Fesser was successful with the first captive breeding of this species. A few years later he managed to acquire another pair, which he also successfully bred. Dr Fesser has literally bred thousands of Taiwan Beauties over the years and to the best of his knowledge, these are the source of ALL Taiwans in captivity. So it would appear that there are only two bloodlines of this species in captivity.

The last of the original animals, a male died in 1998, measuring 2.97m un-stretched and weighing 3k. With such a restricted gene pool, one might think that after nearly forty years that some problems of inbreeding depression might of shown up. This isn’t the case though, as we havn't heard of any deformities showing up in any Taiwan Beauty Snake - (Pers Comm: Dr Rainer Fesser 2009)


Size:

Taiwan Beauty snakes are one of largest of all the subspecies of Beauty Snakes, and it was commonly believed to be the largest Ratsnake. This title however has now been taken by the Blue Beauty that has recently entered into the hobby whose length can exceed 10 foot. Leaving their egg at around 12-17 inches (30.48-43.18 cm) in length, they are a fast growing snake and can easily reach 4 ft (122cm) or more in their first year. Adults can grow in excess of 8 feet (244 cm) some even approaching the 9-10 foot mark. They are not, however, a heavily bodied species like a Boa or Python, the average adults body is no thicker than a coke can.

Temperament:

Hatchlings can be a little defensive and exhibit the typical Ratsnake defensive posture of 'S'ing' up their body and gaping as well as thrashing of the tail. The mood of a Taiwan Beauty Snake can sometimes be gauged by their tongue movements, when irritated they will arch it, extending it to the top of the head then slowly and deliberately under their chin.

With regular gentle brief handling sessions, they do generally calm down. Like all snakes species, some will always remain defensive despite our best efforts however.

A large adult Taiwan Beauty Snake should only be handled whilst there is another adult close by, as they are an incredibly strong species. This rule should be followed regardless of how docile they become.

Diet:

In captivity Taiwan Beauty’s will accept a diet of rodents with an occasional day old chick and quail or hens egg.

Hatchlings will readily accept large pinkies or small fuzzies as their first meal, with a feeding regime of approximately every five to seven days for the first six months, with the size and quantity of food being increased as they grow. Some keepers advocate a mixed diet, where a variety of prey items can be offered, mice, rat pups, quail eggs may be taken by sub adult snakes. When they are of a size where they are accepting adult mice, the duration of feeding can be extended to every seven to ten days.

Adults will feed on medium/large rats, and can also be offered the occasional day old chick, egg or other appropriate sized rodent; such as a hamster to vary the diet, at approximately ten to fourteen day intervals. It is worth noting here, that this species can be extremely food orientated, and food should always be offered via feeding tongs, to lessen the risk of being accidentally bitten when the snake strikes and constricts its prey. If you want to watch your snake feed, then be aware that any movement outside its enclosure may spook it and make it let go of its dinner. If you are quiet and still, you will be rewarded by witnessing a unique experience as the snake inches over its food, swallowing it whole. You may notice your snake sometimes ‘yawns’ after being fed, this is perfectly normal, all they are doing is realigning there jaw.

As a general guide when feeding snakes, the meal you offer them should only just be seen in the stomach, if the scales are stretched around the stomach after you have fed a food item next time offer something smaller. Likewise if you can't see that the snake has eaten, then increase the size or quantity of the next meal.

Food items should be thoroughly defrosted before being offered and slightly warmed through, some keepers defrost their snakes food in a plastic bag in a bowl of warm water, changing the water when it chills, this helps to warm the mouse all the way through. Others will defrost the food naturally at room temperature and then warm it through by placing it on a heat mat, or localizing heat with the aid of a hair-dryer. Defrosting prey items directly in warm water is not recommended because some vitamins and minerals can be lost in the process, with them being leached into the water.

Never defrost your snake’s dinner in the microwave, at the worst it will explode, and at best, the extremities will be cooked!

Sloughing:

All snakes periodically slough (shed/ecdysis) their outer layer of skin, how often mainly depends on the growth of the snake, hatchlings can slough as often as every four to six weeks, but there is no set time pattern for this. Adults will shed less often maybe, only 5 times a year.

At the onset of a shedding cycle your snakes’ appearance will become somewhat duller, the usual black markings may take on a more grey appearance and the overall appearance is muted. What is happening is that a milky secretion is separating the outer layer from the inner layers of skin, loosening the outer layer so that it can be discarded. This opaque appearance will affect the eyes too and they will take on a blue appearance, you may hear other keepers say my snake is 'in the blue', referring to this phenomenon . At this point, the snakes eyesight is very poor and the skin quite delicate, you should not handle your snake until they have finished the shedding process completely. They may become aggressive whilst in shed; this is due to their restricted eye sight and subsequent uneasiness. Food should not be offered whilst a snake is in shed as the bulge in its tummy can hamper the shedding process, the discarding skin can act as a tourniquet. Also, energy is used in the sloughing process that may otherwise have been used to digest the meal, putting further unwanted effort into the whole process.

The eyes will remain milky for approximately three days and then gradually clear, this is because the secretion has been absorbed into the top layer now making it pliable and easily removed. The snake will look more or less normal now, but within 2-3 days it will find a suitable rough object in the vivarium to rub its snout on, breaking the skin free away from the jaw lines, it will thus crawl out of it’s old skin. This process may only take 5-10 minutes and many keepers miss this unique experience. The whole sloughing process from start to finish lasts approximately 10 days.

Healthy snakes usually have little or no difficulty with shedding, and tend to shed their skins in one entire piece. Exceptions to this include snakes with injuries and those housed in enclosures with suboptimal temperatures and/or humidity levels.

Taiwan Beauty snakes are especially prone to sloughing problems if not provided with the correct humidity requirements as set out below.

 Vivarium Size:


Hatchlings:
Hatchlings can be raised in 5 litre containers heated by thermostatically controlled heat mats (these should be placed under the tank and not cover more than one half of the tank; one third of the tank is recommended). This set-up will be fine for the first few months, progressing to larger tubs as they grow. A substrate of kitchen roll or newspaper is ideal at this age, hides should be made available in the hot end and cooler end. A moss box for humidity to aid the sloughing process should be made available at all times.

When buying an initial set-up, it is often false economy to buy a mat thermostat at this point, although cheaper than a dimming or pulse stat, the latter can also be used in its sub-adult and adult vivaria, as the snake grows.

Sub-Adult 3 ft to 5 ft:

A vivarium measuring 36 x 18 x 18 in (91.5 x 45 x 45 cm) is suitable for a sub-adult Taiwan Beauty Snake. This is always an exciting time as you can now furnish it with branches, rocks and a more appealing substrate. Heating wise, a guarded thermostatically controlled 150w ceramic bulb will provide the heat required. Although the 150w is more than necessary to heat a 3 ft vivarium, (a 100w ceramic bulb would be more suitable), the thermostat will keep it at the desired temperature and the ceramic can then be used in the adult sized vivarium when required. It is now that a pulse proportional stat is recommended for use with a ceramic heating element.

Adults over 5 ft:
Adult Taiwan Beauty Snakes will require a large enclosure. The minimum we recommend would be 48 x 24 x 24 in (122 x 61 x 61 cm), as these are a large active species, the bigger the enclosure the better. A four ft (122 cm) vivarium can be heated by a guarded thermostatically controlled 150w ceramic bulb, a larger enclosure will need careful planning to provide the gradient required and may need more than one heat source.

A simple equation for determining the minimum size of a vivarium for your snake is generally Length of enclosure plus Width of enclosure should be equal or greater than the total length of snake.


Temperature and Humidity:

Snakes are poikilothermic, also often referred to as ectothermic and as such, rely on an external heat source to maintain their preferred body temperature. Ectothermic means that they use external environmental conditions to control their body temperature, poikilothermic means that their internal temperatures vary while performing different bodily functions, such as shedding, feeding etc. and again this is largely achieved via external environmental conditions.

A reptile’s ability to digest food, use energy and its ability to protect itself from disease, are dependent upon reaching the correct body temperature. Snakes can change their body temperature by moving back and forth from a warmer part of the cage to a cooler part and vice versa. If snakes are kept in temperatures which are too warm or too cold, this places stress on their immune system and can lead to problems. Taiwan Beauties become extremely agitated and aggressive at temperatures higher than 30C.


JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
°C 17.0 17.3 20.0 23.5 26.4 27.5 27.9 27.6 27.2 24.9 21.8 18.5 23.3
°F 62.663.168.074.379.581.582.281.781.076.871.265.373.9

Weather station TAINAN TAIWAN is at about 23.00°N 120.20°E. Height about 14m / 45 feet above sea level.


A thermal gradient of 28C / 82F hot end, 25C / 77F cool end, is required for the Taiwan Beauty Snake, with a relative humidity of 60-70%. This can be achieved by daily spraying and the addition of a large water bowl. Also a humid hide is beneficial to this species especially when approaching a slough. A night time drop can be given for sub-adult and adults of a few degrees. Hatchlings kept on heat mats will usually receive a night time drop as the ambient room temperature drops at night automatically dropping the temperature in the cooler end of their tub. Adequate ventilation is also a must to stop the air inside the vivarium becoming stale and we suggest a vivarium with at least two ventilation grills, one high up and one lower down at opposite ends of the vivarium, this will allow a good air flow through the enclosure, while helping to achieve a nice thermal gradient.


Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
% Humidity 78.3 78.7 77.4 77.3
78.0
80.1
78.8
81.2
78.6
77.4 77.0 77.5 78.4
Avg. Rain Days
4.5 5.4 5.1
7.2 9.9 13.1 13.4 16.7 9.3 3.6 2.5 3.3 94

TAINAN TAIWAN (1971 - 2000)

Substrate:

A variety of substrates can be used for sub-adult and adult Taiwan beauty Snakes, a couple of considerations when deciding what to use should be, ease of cleaning, will it mould or become a soggy mess with daily spraying and most importantly is it non toxic?

Cedar shavings should never be used for any reptile as they are toxic and cause respiratory problems, acting as a skin irritant.

Suitable substrates include sphagnum peat moss, coconut coir and bark chip. All of which can be supplied via your local reptile store, which should stock several types of substrate and be able to advise which ones are suitable for your needs.


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Vivarium Decor:

Taiwan Beauty Snakes are active agile climbers, so branches within their enclosure would make an excellent if not essential part of the décor. These should be secured to the sides of the vivarium to prevent any accidents. Ideally, the branch should slope from the bottom of the enclosure to the top and end near a shielded heat source so the snake can bask. Reptile branches can be bought from most reptile shops. If you are going to find your own branch, perhaps from your garden then be aware that some woods are toxic to snakes, willow, birch, beech and fruit trees are non-toxic and therefore safe to use. It is also important to sterilize the branch first before using it, to kill any bugs that may be lurking in the bark.

Other additions to the cage could be plants, plastic being the best for ease of use, as they are easily cleaned, these will also serve as additional hiding areas.

Large rocks that cannot be upturned, not only serve as an interesting addition to the cage furniture to explore but also gives the snake a solid rough object to begin the sloughing process on.

Hides: It is important that your snake feels secure within its enclosure and a variety of hides should be present, both in the hot end and cooler areas, these can be as simple as a clean plastic tub with an entrance hole cut in it, an upturned flower pot, cork bark or a commercially brought reptile hide.

Taiwan Beauty snakes require a humid hide, this again can be a simple plastic container filled with damp sphagnum moss or a commercially bought more aesthetically pleasing one.

Water: Fresh water should be available at all times and presented in a sturdy water container, that isn’t easily turned over causing spillages and large enough for them to soak in if they want.

Brumation:

Like most captive ratsnakes that require a brumation period, this will occur in their second year. To prepare your snake for brumation, make sure it has had no food for three to four weeks prior to cooling, also that the temperature is normal during this time, allowing the snake to fully digest its last meal and empty its gut. It is essential that the snake is completely empty before cooling begins as any food left in the gut/intestines could produce toxins that could kill it. After this, the temperature should be lowered gradually over a few weeks until it’s at the desired temperature (50-59 F / 10-15 C). The snake should not be fed during this period but fresh drinking water should be available at all times. As long as you can maintain these lower temperatures, your snake can be left in its vivarium. A more common practice is to prepare a box with a well fitting locking lid, that is well ventilated and transfer the snake to this, moving it to somewhere where the temperature is within the range they require.

Perhaps a spare bedroom or under the stairs, somewhere where it’s easy to get to so as you can check the snake and change its water regularly, equally important is somewhere quiet and out of bright light. After 12-16 weeks the snake can gradually be warmed up over a one to two week period and can then be offered food again.

Breeding:

Female Taiwan Beauty Snakes ideally should be in their third year with plenty of weight on them and in access of 6 feet before any breeding attempts are tried as smaller animals may have difficulty with egg laying. Males can reach sexually maturity as young as 18 months, although it is often felt that they should be around two years of age, prior to being introduced to the females and not too diminutive compared to the female they are to be paired with.

After brumation and the females post brumation slough, they can be introduced to one another. Males will sometimes not eat at this time being more interested in breeding than eating. Once several copulations have been witnessed or the female looks fatter in the mid body they should be separated. The female should be fed regularly, every five to seven days on appropriate size rodents, which will be smaller in size to avoid undue pressure on her developing eggs. If she refuses food in her early days of pregnancy try enticing her to eat with much smaller food items than usual, she may as her pregnancy progresses refuse food all together, this is normal. The most important thing for a gravid snake is a stress free environment.

The female should be given a laying box. A plastic container big enough for her to coil loosely in, filled with damp sphagnum moss. She should be able to feel safe in her laying box, for this reason we do not recommend a clear box, but one that is either opaque or ideally solid sided.

After her pre-laying shed she will become restless, cruising the Viv for hours on end, eventually she will settle into her laying box where she will remain until she lays her eggs. This usually happens anywhere from 5-14 days after she has shed. Care must be taken when checking the box for eggs; if she gets spooked she may hold onto the eggs and become egg bound. If she is in the process of laying when you check, just replace the lid gently and check again in several hours. Do not disturb her by taking out any eggs until she is completely finished.

A Taiwan Beauty female will usually lie coiled around her eggs when she has finished for several hours or more this is through exhaustion. Although usually snakes do not have any maternal instincts, it has been noted for this species, that some females left with their eggs will actually coil around them for the duration of the incubation period. Only leaving them to drink, feed and defecate.

Although not common, Taiwan Beauty Snakes may double clutch, these will be laid approximately around the same time as when the first clutch are hatching.


Incubation:

It is always best to have your egg boxes ready in the incubator for when they are needed, this way the temperature of the vermiculite is right and you have had time to experiment with the right water / vermiculite ratio, usually 1.1 by weight is right for most colubrid species. However Taiwan Beauty Snakes eggs generally have a more successful hatch rate if the incubation substrate is a little drier than this.

A female Taiwan Beauty Snake will typically lay between 5-20 eggs. These should be removed from the laying box to the incubation box preferably wearing a pair of latex gloves to stop the transfer of oils from the hand to the eggs, which could impede the oxygen/carbon dioxide transfer through the shell during incubation.

One method of incubation is to fill a plastic container two thirds full with damp vermiculite (when a handful is squeezed in the palm of the hand, it clumps together and only no water should be produced). Vermiculite is a sterile medium that can be purchased from your local garden centre. Don't unnecessarily handle the eggs and make sure the female has completely finished laying before removing them, as unduly disturbing her whilst in the process of laying can result in her stressing and holding on to the remainder of the eggs (resulting in her becoming egg bound - dystocia). The incubation box should have a fitted lid, and the humidity inside should be between 95- 100%, some condensation will form on the lid but if this is too much and is dripping on the eggs, this means the incubation medium is too wet. Wipe the lid with some kitchen towel and sprinkle a little dry vermiculite over the surface of the eggs to take up the moisture.

The eggs should be checked weekly removing the lid will give a good exchange of air, towards the end of the incubation period once every couple of days is advised. Developing eggs actually breathe they take in oxygen and release carbon dioxide. If the carbon dioxide builds up to dangerous levels, then the eggs will fail. Also for this reason, egg boxes should not be over crowded and ideally eggs should be laid in the box singularly not in a clump. Although, if the eggs have adhered to each other it is advised that no attempt is made to separate them, as damage can be caused in doing so. The eggs can be incubated at temperatures between 78-84F (25.5-29C), expect them to hatch after 57-75 days. Recent studies in the incubation of Beauty Snakes eggs has shown that 78F (25.5C) gives the best hatch rate and also stronger babies, at this temperature they generally hatch after approximately 65 days. The eggs of this species are large 2 x 1in (50 x 30 mm) on average, as would be expected by the size of the hatchlings.

The eggs of Taiwan Beauty Snakes are also thick and leathery and some breeders have reported that the hatchlings have been unable to exit the egg, in some instances whole clutches have contained fully formed dead in egg hatchlings. If your clutch of eggs begins to hatch and after three days there remains some eggs that haven't pipped yet, it might be wise to manually pip these. This is a simple, not without risk skilful procedure to undertake. It is outside the scope of this caresheet to detail this procedure and we recommend that if you are not familiar with it then you seek the skills of an experienced keeper or vet.

Cooler incubation temperatures and a damp incubation medium generally result in stronger & healthier babies. Eggs that are incubated on too a wet medium may absorb more water and this subsequently can lead to lose of nutrients for the developing embryo resulting in weak hatchlings, too wet an incubation substrate can also lead to dead in egg, in the final stages of incubation the hatchling will absorb a lot of moisture from the egg, thereby letting the egg shell become more pliable for piping if the eggs have become water logged through too wet a substrate this can hinder this natural process. It is better to err on the side of caution aiming for slightly drier than too wet, as this is easier to rectify. If the eggs look dimpled then they are too dry (eggs however do dimple towards the end of incubation as they are getting ready to hatch). Do not spray eggs directly, just simply pour a little water around them, they will regain their shape within a day. Too high a temperature can result in kinked spines, congenital defects, internal organ failure and weird non genetic patterning of the snake or death.


Hatchlings should always be housed separately, to prevent stress, the risk of cannibalism and for you to be able to make more accurate records of their feeding, sloughing and general health.


Morphs:

There are no known Taiwan Beauty morphs in captivity at this time. Quite often Albino Beauty Snakes are seen offered by breeders & shops, these are a case of misidentification, with them actually belonging to the subspecies, Orthriophis taeniurus taeniurus, the Chinese Beauty Snake or less likely due to their availability at this time, Mocquards Beauty Snake Orthriophis taeniurus mocquardi.

Quarantine:

The first and often only purpose of a quarantine is to protect your established collection from unwanted diseases and parasites that may possibly be carried by newly acquired animals. All new snakes and reptiles that you bring into your home where there are others, need to be quarantined for at least three months or the maximum time known for the incubation of diseases that affect the species you are keeping. This should be regardless of whether it is a captive bred specimen or wild caught animal. The most commonly seen parasite is the snake mite, these can be seen as tiny black crawling bugs on your snake or in the enclosure, these need to be dealt with as quickly as possible to stop the spread to other snakes in your collection and to stop them multiplying to a stage where they pose a serious risk to your snake. There are many products available from reptile stores especially for eradicating these mites, please read the instructions carefully or take advice from your vet. It is not within the scope of this guide to give advice on treatments of parasites and diseases but just to make you aware that there are some and how important the quarantine period is to monitor the health or your new snake.

Captive bred snakes however are usually disease and parasite free, but why take the risk of infecting other animals when a period of solitude away from others can prevent the spread?

During quarantine, you should not share water bowls or any other cage equipment between vivaria, including feeding tongs. Don’t handle established stock on the same day as dealing with your new snake or if you have to, deal with the established stock first then the new snake. Always shower and change your clothes after dealing with a snake in quarantine before tending to your established stock.

This really is an important step in keeping your collection healthy, disease and parasite free and we strongly suggest that you read more about it.

Special Notes:

When you first purchase your hatchling it should be left for a minimum of one month to settle into its new environment. No handling within this time to allow it to settle into a good feeding regime. Most people make the mistake of handling their new pet too soon, this can result in the snake becoming stressed and refusing to feed. For the first month the only contact should be for feeding and routine maintenance (cleaning and changing the water). After this initial settling in period regular handling of 2-3 times a week will ensure that your snake becomes manageable. Snakes should not be handled when they are in shed, nor should they for three days after being fed as this could result in them regurgitating their meal. You should always wash your hands with at least hot water and soap before and after handling any snake or reptile, although an alcohol scrub to kill germs would be better.

Record keeping is a good way of monitoring your snakes health, and events such as feeding, sloughs, weight and lengths can then be looked back on, if there is ever a problem with your snake. Besides, comparing these records with other snakes can often be enlightening.




References
1. K.D Schulz 1996 A Monograph of the Colubrid Snakes of the Genus Elaphe Fitzinger
2. Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon The Medicinal use of Snakes in China
3. Orthriophis taeniurus friesi - http://www.reptilia.dk/
4. Wei Guo Du and Xiang Ji. The Effects of Incubation Temperature On Hatching Success, Embryonic Use of Energy and Hatchling Morphology in the Stripe-tailed Ratsnake Elaphe taeniura
5. Mori, A. 1993b.. Prey handling behavior of neonatal rat snakes, Elaphe taeniura and E. dione (Colubridae). Japanese Journal of Herpetology 15:59–63.
6. Mattison. C. The Encyclopedia of Snakes
7. John Rossi & Roxanne Rossi. What's Wrong With My Snake? (The Herpetocultural Library)
8. Orthriophis taeniurus friesi Caresheet - Great Valley Serpentarium (No longer on Line)
9. Werner . F 1926. Neue oder wenig bekannte Schlangen aus dem. Wiener naturhistorischen Straatsmuseum (3. Teil) Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Wein, math. naturw. KL., 135: 243 - 257
10. Pope C.H. 1935. The reptiles of China. Turtles, crocodilians, snakes, lizards. American museum of natural History, natural History Central Asia, New York. 10: 1-604
11. Utiger, U., N. Helfenberger, B. Schätti, C. Schmidt, M. Ruf & V. Ziswiler. 2002. Molecular Systematics and Phylogeny of Old and New World Ratsnakes, Elaphe auct., and Related Genera (Reptilia, Squamata, Colubridae). Russ. J. Herpetol., 9(2): 105-124.