Japanese ratsnake  (Elaphe climacophora)

 Elaphe climacophora 


Origin: The Japanese Archipelago

Length: This species can grow up to 150 cm in length.
Age: They can live up to 20 years old.

Experience: Average hose holder
Food: Live or dead prey. Main prey animals are mice and rats.
Adult feeding: every 5 days
Feeding young: Every 3 to 5 days
Water bowl: Yes
Water change: 3 times a week


There is the choice to present the prey alive or dead. It is recommended to offer dead food. This is more practical and prevents the food animal from injuring your snake. It is also advised to offer the food animal with feeding tongs and to feed your snake outside the enclosure. This ensures that your hand is not associated with food and prevents your snake from reaching for your hand while feeding. If you do go for live food, you must supervise the feeding. The prey animal can also injure the snake. Feed the rat snake separately, because when two snakes catch the same prey, they can injure each other and sometimes eat each other themselves. The ideal prey is about as wide as the widest part of the snake.

The Japanese rat snakes are real swimmers, so the opportunity to swim or bathe is very much appreciated. To achieve this, a water bowl is needed big enough for the snake to be able to lie in with the whole body, they will appreciate something bigger themselves. Because the hose lies in it, the water can get dirty faster, so make sure that the water is changed when it is dirty. They also drink that water.

A hygienic living environment is important to keep your rat snake healthy. To achieve this, the accommodation will have to be cleaned regularly. Cleaning once a week is enough. In order to prevent the build-up of bacteria, the entire accommodation must be cleaned and disinfected a few times a year.

From time to time you will have to handle your rat snake. If you are handling a snake it is wise to use a snake hook, if not then make sure that you handle your snake calmly in your hand. The young snakes or snakes that have not been handled before can be defensive and can attack. The snake is not poisonous, but it is better to avoid bite marks. After several uses, the snake will get used to it on its own and become less defensive. Never squeeze your hose while handling as their vertebrae are fragile and can break easily. Also make sure your hands are washed and don't smell of food. Finally, do not handle your snake when it is molting and do not handle it in the dark.

Minimum large stay for 1 couple: 150 x 60 x 60
Lying surface:  0.5 m2 and 1 raised platform per hose on which the snake can lie with its entire body.
Day temperature: 24-28C
Night temperature: 18-22C
Hours of light: 12 hours
Humidity:  40%-60%
Ground cover: Newspapers, bark, sand or beech chips

The rat snake is a snake that occurs in a variety of areas and therefore needs a varied terrarium in captivity. They like to climb need climbing opportunities. That is why it is advised to take a terrarium that is higher than 60cm so that the snake can really climb. The climbing possibilities can be offered in the form of climbing branches. In addition to climbing, they also like to bathe, you can do this by providing a water bowl large enough for the snake to lie in with its entire body. Keep in mind that the container is heavy enough so that the hose does not push it around. The rat snake can be very shy and therefore needs plenty of hiding places. You can offer this in the form of a plastic cave or a piece of cork, make sure that these are large enough that all black rat snakes in the enclosure can take shelter under it. The rat snake also likes tossing and turning, you can offer it this by offering thicker bedding or giving it a sand bath.

Before the stay there are some extra things to pay attention to. The Japanese rat snake is able to squeeze itself through small cracks. Keep this in mind and make sure that there are no small cracks in the accommodation through which it fits. Ventilation is also necessary to keep the air fresh and it is recommended that the accommodation is kept out of the bright sun and as vibration-free as possible.

Hunting method: Strangler snake.
Lifestyle: Semi-arboreal & day-active

The rat snake is an active snake and adapts easily to its environment. They are good climbers and swimmers. Make interesting and lively pets in captivity.

Points of attention
Black rat snakes can be defensive, especially in the enclosure. Pay attention to this when handling your hose to avoid unnecessary injuries

Cost and Purchase
Legislation: No documentation is required to keep the rat snake.
One-off costs: This includes the costs for accommodation, lighting, heating, water bowl and decoration. This can cost a few hundred euros to a few thousand euros. The final amount depends on the quality and size of the products.
Fixed costs: Fixed costs include the costs for the feed, which is several tens of euros per year.
Unexpected costs: Costs have been incurred when your hose happens to get sick or your equipment breaks down.