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Everglades Ratsnake, Elaphe Obsoleta Rossalleni


Everglades Rat snakeElaphe Obsoleta RossalleniIntroduction: Everglades ratsnakes are native to the Florida Everglades. They are considered to be among the best snakes for new hobbyists. They reach an average size of 4ft to 6ft. and are often times gentle and will allow handling. Most rat snakes that are available are captive bred, with a mind numbing quantity of morphs.

Acclimation and Quarantine: Since 95% of all Elaphe that are seen for sale are captive bred; acclimation should not be a serious issue. The best way to acclimate a new rat snake is to get it's cage prepared and place the animal in it's new enclosure with a hide box and fresh water. Try not to bother the animal for a day or two while it settles in.

Quarantining of new arrivals is very important with any animal regardless of where it came from. Ideally, quarantining should be done in a room separate from your main collection. Plastic ware of an appropriate size is light and easy to clean and sterilize.

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 tank with a footprint of 18" x36" would be fine.

Furnishing the enclosure is of personal preference. Branches can be used in the furnishing of the enclosure. These snakes are largely arboreal and do like to climb. Hide boxes should also be placed on each end of the cage to provide the snake with a sense of security as they thermoregulate. Foliage may be added to the cage to provide the snake with more places to hide.

For substrate, soil, mulch, ground coconut, and sphagnum moss are all acceptable and will help maintain the proper humidity levels the snake needs to thrive.

Heating and Lighting: There should be a thermal gradient in the cage so that the snake may choose the area of the cage where it is most comfortable. The warmest extreme of the cage should reach 80-85 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cooler side of the cage should be between 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. It is extremely important that the snake is provided with this thermal gradient so they can escape the heat. At night there should be a slight drop in temperature, preferably of about ten degrees. Heat pads, cable, tape and basking lights are all great ways to provide heat.

Feeding: Feeding is straight forward. Prey should be an appropriate size relative to that of the snake you are feeding.

Feed neonates and juveniles frequently to ensure rapid growth. A pinky/fuzzy or two twice a week is a good regimen. For adults 2-3 mice or small rats once a week will suffice.

Feed snakes in an enclosure other than what the snake lives in. By doing this, the likely hood of an aggressive feeding response when you open the cage will be reduced. The feeding container can be bear bottom to ensure that the snake only swallows it's food and not any bedding which can lead to a mouth infection or an impaction in the stomach.

Neonates and wild caught animals may be difficult to initiate feeding, however once they accept their first meal they normally continue to feed well from then on. To entice a reluctant snake to feed try placing the animal in a restricted container such as a deli dish in order to keep the food and it's scent in close proximity to the snake. Leave it alone for about 24 hours. See our "How To" section for additional tips on How to entice a reluctant snake to feed.

Water: A dish of fresh water should always be available. Rats don't soak often, but it is not uncommon for them to do so after a meal. With that said, they will often times defecate in their water dishes so keeping their water dish clean is of utmost importance.

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