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Old 11-27-17, 10:21 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Elaphe schrenckii FAQ

First I want to state that all these responses are based on my experiences and nowhere do I say that it's the only proper way to keep these snakes.

I just get asked these questions a lot by people from all around the world so I thought I write a quick FAQ. Most of the time the messages start with "I can't find much info about them and what I found is rather general... I would like some more specific informations if you would be so kind to answer to my questions". So here we are! Hope someone will enjoy it.




Q: What are the most extreme temperature ranges that Elaphe schrenckii can tolerate?


A: The perfect range for these snakes is between 70F and 83F (21C to 28C). From our experience they will be fine as low as 68F (20C) and as high as 102F (39C), so if you live in colder/warmer climates and worry about power shortages or a/c problems you’ll be fine for a few days if they stay in these temperatures. That being said you should try to reach the perfect ranges of course.

Q: What are the best enclosure dimensions for adult snakes? And what type of enclosure is best?

A: For adult pair you’ll want the minimum enclosure of 5 x 2 x 2 feet (150 x 60 x 60cm). It may seem big but they are active species that will use all the space you can provide. If you have only one adult snake then you can go a little smaller, like 4 x 1,5 x 1,5 feet (120 x 45 x 45cm). I would recommend either glass or wood enclosures with sliding doors. Any rack type tubes, rubs etc. are too small for them as well as don’t provide any space to explore around.
Of course hatchlings and juveniles can live in smaller enclosures as well as in tubs/rubs as a temporary enclosures.

Q: Can you give me a general idea about their temperament? And are there any differences between males and females? Also, are there differences between hatchlings and adults?

A: Most of the snakes I had or heard about could be described as very calm, brave and inquisitive. They will often watch the humans on the other side of the glass or go to hands that are cleaning in their tanks. They don’t try to run when you want to pick them up, on the contrary you should probably watch yourself as they will go check what’s going on and can mistake you for food sometimes J

As far as I can tell there are no differences between males and females, my females were a little more food driven than males but I don’t know if it’s a rule for the whole species or just my luck.

There are hovewer differences between hatchlings and adults. Hatchlings are often shy and will try to run from your hands when you try to pick them up. They will calm fast once on hands. In my experience it’s all connected to the size of the snake. At one point they just decide that they are now a big, adult snake that can’t be hurt by anything at all and that’s when you get to fully enjoy interacting with them as they become the brave, inquisitive snakes that everyone mentions when asked about this species.

Q: How often and for how long can they be handled? What are the signs of being stressed? Are they okay with being handled a lot?

A: They are one of the species that I would recommend to anyone who looks for a “pet” that can be handled frequently. Since they tolerate colder temperatures you can handle them as long as you want (unlike the more tropical species). Of course they are still reptiles, not dogs so I would say that handling for half an hour is okay, but for 3 hours may be a little excessive.
hey do like to move around and explore so they will use the chance to see the world, but they can still be stressed with too much activity happening around them (like big crowds, very fast active kids etc).

The signs of being stressed are similar to other snakes. They will hiss and “puff” if they don’t want you to pick them or try to hide in the darker corners if they had enough handling.

Q: Again with the handling issues… do they dart/run/flight around like crazy or are they calmly wandering around? How long should I wait after feeding to safely handle them?

A: As hatchlings they can be flighty (depends on the individual, some are calm right out of the egg and others need time to calm down). That being sait I certainly say that they are a lot calmer than some of the other species like king snakes or beauty snakes that like to “spasm” around trying to get out of your hold. As they grow up they calm down and just wander around sniffing at everything.

As a rule I wait 48h after feeding to make sure they won’t throw up the food… or use me as a toilet

Q: How many morphs are there?

A: At the moment there are 4 recognised morphs: wildtype (black with yellow markings), melanistic (all black), albino and anerythistic (black with white markings).

Q: I heard you can give them fish and quail eggs, is it true? How often can they eat it?

A: Yes, they will eat fish, quail eggs and quail chicks (the chicks are only for adult snakes). You can enrich the diet with these “treats” every few feedings safely. Just make sure the fish don’t have thiaminese.

Q: What type of light should they have? And how much humidity they require?! No one ever mentions exact humidity with these snakes!

A: They will do okay with normal LED bulbs but they will certainly benefit from UVB light. The lack of uvb won’t cause health problems like metabolic bone disease in lizards but if provided the snakes will often bask under it.

Q: Do they need to brumate? Do they go off food in winter?

A: In my experience they don’t go off food as a rule. Ours were eating perfectly even when paired up for breeding. There are however individuals that will go off food for a few weeks in winter. In that case you may consider brumating but it’s not strictly necessary.

That being said I know that brumation is good for the health of our reptiles and should be done for every species... I’m at fault here as I don’t brumate ours since we don’t really have means to do so at the moment. You should probably read about it more and make your decision.
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Old 11-27-17, 04:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Elaphe schrenckii FAQ

Thanks Sylphie!
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Old 11-27-17, 04:54 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Elaphe schrenckii FAQ

Thank you! This is a snake I want when I have enough room and make sure I can keep it cool enough. Summers around here are brutal.
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Old 11-27-17, 09:38 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Elaphe schrenckii FAQ

Have you found brumation to be necessary for breeding?
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Old 11-28-17, 06:29 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Elaphe schrenckii FAQ

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjhill001 View Post
Have you found brumation to be necessary for breeding?
From my experiences no, it's not necessary. When I first breed my pair in 2016 they weren't brumated at all. It was the first time for both of them and the results were 8 good eggs, one slug and one egg that went bad during incubation. That being said it would be a good idea to let them brumate before breeding.

At the moment they are again together as I'm curious if they will try to breed outside of their breeding season.


El-Ziggy and Magdalen I'm glad you enjoyed it.


I only now noticed that the part about humidity did not get copied.. so here it is:

Q: How much humidity they require?! No one ever mentions exact humidity with these snakes!

A: Russian ratsnakes are very smiliar to corn snakes in this part. As long as the humidity is below 80% they will be perfectly fine (higher humidity could cause health problems like blisters for example). I recommend using water bowls big enough for the whole snake to fit, this way they will be able to bath before shedding or when they feel it's too dry. Personally I never heard of anyone having problems with shedding in this species, so antyhing between 30% to 80% will be okay in my opinion.
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Old 11-29-17, 09:13 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Elaphe schrenckii FAQ

Congrats Sylph! Very informative and helpful, thanks.
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Old 11-29-17, 04:53 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Elaphe schrenckii FAQ

Well done, Sylphie.

About the topic of brumation. I never kept Elaphe schrenckii myself, but I have talked to several keepers of them here in Germany. They all agreed in brumating them for at least 3 months, one would brumate his snakes for 4 month. Considering where these snakes came from and the temperatures during winter this seems reasonable and from the experience with other snakes it is beneficial for the overall health of the snake if they can brumate each year.

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Old 11-30-17, 04:46 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Elaphe schrenckii FAQ

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roman View Post
Well done, Sylphie.

About the topic of brumation. I never kept Elaphe schrenckii myself, but I have talked to several keepers of them here in Germany. They all agreed in brumating them for at least 3 months, one would brumate his snakes for 4 month. Considering where these snakes came from and the temperatures during winter this seems reasonable and from the experience with other snakes it is beneficial for the overall health of the snake if they can brumate each year.

Roman
Thank you!

That's right and I wholeheartedly agree with what you wrote. That's why I mentioned in my responses that even though I don't brumate mine at the moment it's still a good idea to do it if possible. I plan on brumating mine too as soon as we will have space for small fridge specifically for snakes.
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