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Moellendorff’s Ratsnake Care Sheet

Common Name: 100 Flower Ratsnake; Moellendorff’s Ratsnake; Red-headed Ratsnake

 

Scientific Name: Orthriophis moellendorffi

 

Group or Family: Colubridae

 

PR Keeper Level: 3

 

PR Handler Level: Yellow

 

Species Background/Natural History: This species is threatened by overexploitation, as they are used for food, medicine, and fashion accessories in addition to being exported for the pet trade. They are uncommon as pets due to the low survival rate of imported specimens, but captive bred individuals are occasionally available.

 

Physical Description: This species shares the blotched dorsal pattern and black and white checkered ventral pattern of a corn snake. However, they can grow to be over 8 feet in length (with males growing longer than females) with a striking orange tail and large, rust-colored head. Background color can vary from green to silver. Hypomelanistic and aberrant patterns are also available.

 

Distribution: This species is native to China and Northern Vietnam, living in dense forest and karst topography. They tend to hide in caves and rock crevices.

 

Lifespan: 15-20 years in captivity

 

Caging: Adults of this species should be provided a large, custom enclosure (6’x4’x4’) to accommodate their size and activity level. Juveniles can be housed in a 20 gallon aquarium, and enclosure size should increase as the snake grows. A bark or mulch substrate is recommended to maintain higher humidity levels.

 

Cage Décor: Climbing branches should be provided, as this species will readily utilize vertical space.

 

Temperature: 64 - 77°F

 

Heating and Lighting: No lights or heat sources are required, provided that ambient temperatures remain within range.

 

Humidity and Water: 75% - Water should be available at all times. Regular spraying can be utilized to maintain humidity.

 

Diet and Feeding: These snakes will readily eat rodents (f/t is recommended). They tend to eat small prey items for their size, and will refuse meals they deem “too big”. In the wild they eat bats, rodents, birds, lizards, and frogs.

 

Supplements: None required.

 

Breeding: A period of winter hibernation is required before mating. Mated females will lay one clutch of between 5-12 eggs in autumn. Incubation time is between 2 ½ - 3 months at 79°F.

 

Handling your new pet: This species is known for being flighty. Handling frequently generally results in a variety of defensive behaviors, including tail rattling, heavy breathing/exhalation, gaping, and musking. Gentle handling, keeping one’s own movements to a minimum, provides the best results.

 

PR Comments: This is a very active, semi-arboreal species. They make a good display animal, as they are awake during the day (most activity occurring early in the morning and in the evening) and are excellent climbers.