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Mandarin Ratsnake, Elaphe mandarina

Mandarin RatsnakeIntroduction Mandarin Rat Snakes are native to the mountains of south China. They are also encountered in the mountain forests of Burma, Vietnam, and Taiwan. Mandarins are a medium, crepuscular species that are largely fossorial, spending much of their time underground in borrows. Mandarins hunt the borrows in search of baby and juvenile moles and shrews.

Acclimation and Quarantine Since wild caught Mandarin rat snakes do not acclimate to captivity well for a number of reasons, we strongly recommend that you purchase captive bred animals. Captive bred Mandarins have proven to be hardy captives and normally pose few problems to the keeper.

Quarantine or acclimation enclosures need not be elaborate, but rather sterile and easy to clean. Plastic storage bins are often used for such enclosures as they are easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes, and most provide the security needed for a new snake. Paper towels, newspapers, or other easily cleaned materials may be used as the substrate. A few cork rounds should be provided for additional security. A water dish should be available. This setup should be used until the snake is feeding regularly and appears to be in good health.

Housing Juveniles will have plenty of space in a ten gallon tank or even a shoe box. An adult animal should have enough cage to allow it to stretch out and not overlap itself. A twenty gallon long tank will be plenty of space.

Furnishing the enclosure is of personal preference. Branches can be used in the furnishing of the enclosure, however the snake will stay on the bottom most of the time. Hide boxes should also be placed on each end of the cage to provide the snake with a sense of security as they thermo-regulate. Foliage may be added to the cage to provide the snake with more places to hide. For substrate, we prefer an aspen bedding that is about 4 inches deep, as these snake like to borrow. Soil, mulch, ground coconut, and sphagnum moss are all acceptable as well and will help maintain the proper humidity levels the snake needs to thrive.

Heating and Lighting Provide a hot spot for mandarins that is not much more than 80 deg. F. This is most easily done by a low wattage heat pad on one end of the enclosure. They are indigenous to mountains that have much cooler temperatures, and if over heated, could easily lead to the death of the snake. With that said, be sure to have a temperature gradient also to allow them to cool down when they get too warm. The opposite end of the tank should be 70 - 75 degrees. Night time temps can drop to 65 degrees, perhaps cooler, but not needed.

Light is best provided via fluorescent or ambient from the room.

Feeding Captive bred Mandarins should pose no problems when it comes to feeding. They should be fed 1-2 small prey items once a week. Even an adult is capable of maintaining healthy body weight on a diet of hoppers and young adult mice.

Wild caught Mandarins on the other hand are notoriously difficult to feed, and most will waste away and die in a short time frame. Once again, we do not recommend that you purchase wild Mandarins.

Water A dish of fresh water should always be available.