Nature Mikey

Nature Mikey

Monday, May 16, 2011

Species of the Day: Taiwanese Beauty Rat Snake

Scientific Name: Orthriophis taeniurus friesei
Family: Colubridae
Adult Size: Averages 6 feet in length; occasionally exceeds 8 1/2 feet in length
Range: Occurs only in Taiwan
Habitat: Generalist. Occurs in wooded areas, agricultural lands and along water courses. Semi-arboreal.

    The Taiwanese Beauty Rat snake is a species of long, slender, semi-arboreal snakes native to Taiwan. Their average length is about 5 to 7 feet, with an  unofficial record of just under 1 feet. It is a beautiful snake, with a ground color of yellowish-brown to olive, with jet-black patterns throughout the body. The markings on the back almost always consist of two pairs of black, round spots, which join together. From each eye there is a dark stripe, which extends to the corners of the mouth.
    In captivity some individuals tame down to be very nice pets, but others have been known to be quite temperamental even many years after capture. Wild collected specimens are often very defensive and may even injure their snouts by striking against the glass of the terrarium, which means that they will bite the unwary hand that ventures into the enclosure while cleaning or delivering prey items. Wild caught Taiwanese Beauties are also heavily parasitized, dehydrated, emaciated and difficult to acclimate. Many have problems shedding and most will not feed readily at first. Going through the trouble and higher price of captive-bred individuals is a much better choice, and well worth it to have a calmer and pre-acclimated snake. Captive-bred specimens are seasonally available and come in both normally colored snakes and albinos. Captive-bred hatchlings will readily accept pinky mice and grow rapidly. Adult snakes will eat breeder-sized mice and appropriately sized rats.
    This is an active, alert and shy snake. It should be provided a large enclosure containing a hide box and assorted visual barriers such as cork bark or sterilized driftwood. One or two babies can be housed in a 10 gallon terrarium, but due to their rapid growth rates, it will be less expensive to just house them in the adult sized enclosure. A pair of adults can be housed in a 50 to 125 gallon terrarium. If provided with sturdy branches, a well-adjusted snake will climb on them, coil up and rest. Cypress, fir, aspen chips or bark mulch are all excellent choices for substrate. A temperature gradient of 76 to 82 degrees F during the day and as low as 68 degrees F at night is ideal for these snakes. A basking spot of 88 degrees F should be provided during the day periods. A large water bowl kept scrupulously clean should always be provided and should be large enough for the snake to be able to soak in and submerge its whole body.

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