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Common Names: Japanese Ratsnake
Scientific Name: Elaphe climacophora
First Described: BOIE, 1826

Adult Size: 120-160cm
Temperament: Shy species that can be a bit nippy
Temperature & Humidity Range:  28°C(82°F) to 25°C(77°F)
Brumation:  A brumation of 3-4 months at temperatures between 47-57 F (8-14C) is required.
Reproduction: Japanese Ratsnakes typically reproduce only once per year with 5 to 24 eggs laid per clutch the hatchling will emerge after 44 to75 days at an incubation temperature of between 25-29°C
Known Mutations: Albino, Striped,
Elaphe climacophora of the striped phase are born a grey-brown colour with four stripes. As they mature they develop a lot of yellow and green pigmentation.
In the City of Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan, a natural population of wild Albino Japanese ratsnakes exists. The habitat along the River Nishiki where these snakes live was declared a national monument in 1924, and the snakes themselves in 1974. Japanese people consider them as messengers of the Japanese good luck goddess, Benzai-ten. This natural population which has been recorded as early as 1738 is slowly decreasing due to urbanization of habitat areas. Possible genetic defects, including scale anomalies and asymmetric or abnormally large eyes, have been recorded and may be signs of a small gene pool and a contributory factor to their dwindling numbers. A breeding farm has been set up in 1967 by the Japan Snake Institute to breed, raise and study these snakes. Already they have had great success with resolving some of the anomalies that this population was showing. WC Albinos are strictly protected by Japanese law. Captive bred, however, have made it into the hobby; but are still very rare in collections.
Captive Bred Localities: Kunashiri Is.
Japanese Ratsnakes from the Kunashiri Island are a bright green colour with flecks of yellow and a solid turquoise coloured head. They are much sought after by hobbyists.
Natural History:  The Japanese Ratsnake is commonly found near human settlements such as barns, houses and other buildings. It can also be found in forests, fields, grasslands, bamboo thickets, rice fields, dry stone walls, ditches, very often in the vicinity of water. The diet of Elaphe climacophora in the wild consists of, Mice, Rats, Birds and their Eggs,  Lizards, Snakes, Frogs and Squirrels.
Native To: Japan and neighbouring islands, Kunashiri

Map showing the distribution of Elaphe climacophora ( Japanese Ratsnake ) in the wild.
  • Clicking the snake icons will bring up an information bubble with more information about the species occurance in that area.
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SCHULZ, Klaus Dieter (ed.), 2013. Old World Ratsnakes, A collection of papers
SCHULZ, Klaus Dieter, 1996. A monograph of the Colubrid Snakes of the genus Elaphe Fitzinger.

Scale Counts:
Ventrals: 222-244
Subcaudals: 84-122
Dorsals: 23-25
  • WC Japanese Ratsnake_1
  • Author: YusuKubo
  • Eating Hens Egg
  • Author: Sue Knight
  • Striped
  • Author: Sue Knight
  • Albino
  • Author: Rob Kool
  • Japanese Ratsnake
  • Author: AC Snakes
  • Kunasir Locality
  • Author: Rob Kool
  • Japanese Ratsnake
  • Author: Phill Stuchfield
  • Japanese Ratsnake
  • Author: Dave Royans

Conservation Status:
IUCN Red List:Not Listed
Albino population were designated as the natural monument by the Japanese Government in 1972.

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This site has information on the following genera of Ratsnakes ... Spilotes, Spalerosophis, Ptyas, Zamenis, Elaphe, Rhinechis, Senticolis, Pseudelaphe, Pantherophis, Bogertophis, Orthriophis, Gonyosoma, Oreocryptophis, Oocatochus, Euprepiophis, Coelognathus, Archelaphe