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Old 12-07-18, 01:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

Have been pondering getting another snake. There are several rat snake species drawn to but I find myself thinking more & more about getting an arboreal species of some sort. Having only two years experience with two snakes of two different colubrid species, I am uncertain if there are any appropriate arboreal species I would have success with.

Here are some considerations. I've found I don't need to have a snake I can handle, but would rather not get regularly zapped when doing snake housekeeping. Am having enough trouble when my over eager kingsnake comes flying out of his cage in anticipation of a meal. (That darn snake is like a sideways jack-in-the-box!) I'd prefer snakes I can see, not one that wants to hide all the time. Being active at times during the day would be a bonus, but not required.

As said at the beginning. I find myself most drawn to rat snakes. That's what got me interested in snakes to begin with. However, I've no real experience with other types of snakes so I don't really know what else may be a good fit for me.

Any suggestions?

ETA: It can't be a snake native to Georgia. That's illegal.
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Old 12-07-18, 03:58 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

I've always enjoyed working with Rat Snakes. I've worked with a few of the North American species, and most of the ones native to the southeast US will use vertical space if you give it to them. I'm having trouble remembering which species are native to Georgia - is it Eastern Rats and Corns? That would still leave Western and Gray Rats for you to keep. Not sure what Yellow and Everglades Rat Snakes are technically classified as these days (they may be lumped in with Eastern Rat Snakes).

They're easy to keep. If you're doing fine with your Brooks King, you'll do fine with any of the Rat Snakes I mentioned. Honestly, the care requirements are very similar. They're an active species so the more room you give them, the better. Since they aren't a strictly arboreal species, they still need a good footprint in the enclosure. I'd focus on floor space first, and height second.

Rough Green Snakes are a common arboreal species, but not a snake that likes to be handled much (plus, i believe they are native to Georgia).
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Old 12-07-18, 05:55 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

Carpet pythons are semi-arboreal, and aside from a little warmer temps care is pretty similar to North American rat snakes. Also quite commonly available at reptile shows or online. Amazon tree boas are completely arboreal, but have a bad reputation for being inclined to bite, not generally good for handling. My green bush rats are arboreal, but not particularly good handlers, generally flighty and likely to bite if they feel restrained from going wherever they want when taken out of their enclosure. They're a smaller species, and teeth are nothing like the ATB's, so bites aren't even painful, but I don't like to stress them out. Russian rats are quite active, and from what I've gathered generally good handlers. My Boiga is an arboreal snake, rear-fanged, but has a very mild disposition and not even inclined to strike at food when provoked.
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Old 12-09-18, 08:09 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

Carpet pythons are a great choice.
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Old 12-09-18, 12:31 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

Many thanks to all for the input.

Bandit, I don't know much about Western or Gray rat snakes. If they behave like Texas rat snakes or our native Eastern rat snakes then that's probably not what I'm looking for this time. If Westerns are a little more like my Russian than the Texas or Eastern rat snakes then that may be a good fit for me. FYI, yes Easterns, Corns and Rough Greens are native Georgia species.

toddnbecka, am hesitant about the Boiga because my body likes to over react a bit to some insect stings and bites. It's never been a severe reaction though, so in the long run it may not be a problem. They are a very interesting type of snake worth considering. What do you mean by "not even inclined to strike at food when provoked"? Does that mean they don't have much of a feeding response?

Green bush rat snakes sound interesting. Would like a snake I can handle when needed, like moving from cage to a temporary enclosure and then back again, but otherwise I'm fine with a display animal. If I just feel like holding a snake for a while I've got my Russian.

The reputation of tree boas and pythons, both disposition and unpleasantness of their bites, is very off putting. Don't think that's the way I want to go.

El Ziggy and toddnbecka, are there carpet python varieties/localities/whatever that don't get huge? The size seems to range greatly, like 6-13 feet. I'm fine with 6'-7', maybe even 8'. For me, 6'-8' is large. Pushing 10' sounds too big, for me at least. Also, what size enclosure does an 8' snake need? Would that be the whole reptile room or just a walk-in closet. Carpet pythons do seem popular, presumably for a reason, and are beautiful. Am not ruling them out, but size, of snake &/or enclosure, may be an issue. I'd want to maximize my chances of getting a minimum sized snake.

What does anyone know about rhino rat snakes, Japanese rat snakes, red-tailed rat snakes? Are those all mostly arboreal? The red tails are lovely to look at but don't sound like ones I'd want to handle and may not even be good with me cleaning their cage. Rhinos sound hard to switch over from fish to mice. Don't know Anything about the Japanese rats.

What other snake types or species am I overlooking? It doesn't have to be a rat snakes. (Even though I keep talking about those.) Thanks again!
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Old 12-09-18, 01:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

Well then I guess my suggestions are ruled out haha. Texas Rat Snakes are now classified as Westerns...so they're the same snake. And yes, those and Gray rats behave the same as Easterns.

I don't have much experience with the other species mentioned, so I'll let others chime in.
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Old 12-09-18, 03:15 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

Sorry, Bandit. I love our Easterns. Our property has plenty of black rat snakes, some larger specimens. They're cool & part of the reason I decided to finally get a snake. That's just not the direction I looking this time.

So I did more reading on the carpet pythons. Seems like a lot of the popular subspecies are on the small end of the size scale, maybe closer to 7' average. And maybe they're not very active. (By active, I'm thinking of my Russian.) So maybe a 7' one wouldn't need a cage larger than my Russian's future adult cage.

Carpet python folks, does the above sound right?
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Old 12-09-18, 03:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

There is a lot of possible arboreal snakes available. The problem with a lot of them, especially the smaller ones like vine snakes (genus Ahaetulla) or flying snakes (genus Chrysopelea) is that they are specialized in eating lizards or frogs, so it is sometimes difficult to keep them alive for an extended period.

For enclosure dimensions they need the same floor space as a terrestrial snake of the same size but with much more height, that’s something you have to be aware of (obviously). Having said this, arboreal colubrids are in general very active and rewarding snakes to keep.

If you are looking into something “exotic” the genus Gonyosoma offers some really interesting and nice snakes (you can’t go wrong with a green snake). The Green Bush Rat Snake (Gonyosoma prasinum) and the Rein Snake (Gonyosoma frenatum) stay relatively small (ca 100 cm / 3 ft) and feed on small rodents. I don’t have any personal experience with these species, but from what I read about them they are not so different from their larger cousins. The Rhino Rat Snake (Gonyosoma boulengeri) will grow a little longer, males may reach 160 cm (5 ft), my female is ca. 120 cm (4 ft) long. They can be difficult to feed as hatchlings, but once they start eating small rodents they can be fed with mice, small rats and day old chicken. The biggest member of this group is the Red Tailed Green Rat Snake (Gonyosoma oxycephalum), they may reach up to 2.4 m (8 ft), but generally stay smaller. My large female is ca 190 cm long, the second female and the male are ca 180 cm (6 ft) long.

The minimum enclosure size for an adult Gonyosoma oxycephalum should be something like 120 x 80 x 150 cm (length x width x height), if I had a little more room available I might use something like 150 x 90 x 150 cm, the more height the better for these snakes. I would not use something smaller in any dimension for an adult, they really use every space they get. Feeding them is the same as Gonyosoma boulengeri, just a little more of it.

If you are interested in Gonyosoma, get captive bred snakes, wild caught snakes are usually dehydrated and infested with internal parasites which get out of control and cause a lot of fresh imports to die within the first 4 to 6 month.

Most arboreal snakes are “nippy”, if they are in a new environment most subscribe to “bite first, ask questions later”, but calm down with time (and a large enclosure). My Gonyosoma oxycephalum are sometimes unpredictable, they are usually quite calm and I can do maintenance in the enclosure without any issues, but sometimes one just decides to proof that they can bite and will do so without any obvious provocation.

My favorites are the snakes of the genus Spilotes, the tiger rat snake (Spilotes pullatus) and the amazon puffing snake (Spilotes sulphureus), but they will reach 240 cm or even more and require enclosures of the matching size.

Another “exotic” snake (for you on the other side of the big pond anyway) would be a European rat snake, the Aesculapian snake (Zamenis longissimus), care similar to a corn snake or a grey rat snake.
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Old 12-10-18, 09:01 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

My boiga is CBB, was almost a year old when I got her, and I've never seen a strike. I started feeding her live pink mice, but she didn't seem too fond of those, didn't always eat every week. I got a shipment of anoles, and she takes f/t w/out any problems. Just like the pinks, I leave them overnight. She's quite calm when picked up, much more than my green bush rats. However, if enclosure size is your main concern, the green bush are the smallest of the lot. The boiga will eventually grow to about 5', but will remain very slender. Note, it's a Boiga nigriceps, which is a generally docile species. The more commonly available mangrove snakes are a different critter entirely.
I keep 2 of my carpets in 75 gallon aquariums, and the baby in a 40 breeder. The 2 larger ones will be moved into 4x2x2 enclosures eventually. A 40 breeder would be fine for an adult green bush rat, my pair are housed in large sterilite tubs with locking lids, same as my Japanese rat pair. Those aren't as arboreal as the green bush, more inclined to lurk under the hides. Also bigger, though mainly in girth, than the green bush rats. Great for handling though, not shy or hesitant about coming to me right out of their tubs when I open the lid.
The green bush rats won't eat anything larger than a hopper mouse, unlike my other rat, corn, and king snakes of similar size. No idea why, but they definitely want small meals, and even then they don't eat every week now that they've grown out.
My Dominican boas are semi-arboreal like carpet pythons. Very docile regardless of size or age. The biggest female is around 7', males a bit smaller. Housing for adults is similar to carpet pythons as well, most 4' enclosures will work, taller will allow them a little more climbing space.
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Old 12-11-18, 02:29 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

To answer your question about carpets, both Irian Jaya and Darwin carpets will stay small enough for your liking.
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Old 12-12-18, 07:02 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

I have both a Jag carpet with IJ blood and an ATB. Neither one is nippy, they are both quite chill. Generally they are curious through glass and would rather flee when touched instead of fight. They are not cage active though.
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Old 12-12-18, 11:47 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

I'd agree with Roman on his suggestions. They are probably closer to what you're looking for.

Also, there's the option of smooth green snakes. Similar to rough greens. (I don't know if these have been re-classified or anything though).
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Old 12-12-18, 03:27 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

My one suggestion is to make sure it's a CB snake. I have WCs--a Tiger Rat and Red Tail Green Rat--and both are unpredictable, especially the Tiger Rat. In fact, he bit me three times just trying to get him out to clean his cage the other day...of course I tailed him while transferring him to a temp tub, but I pinned his head and held him there while putting him back in the cleaned cage. I didn't want any more of my blood spilled.
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Old 12-14-18, 11:17 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

Captive bred is a requirement! My problem now is that y'all have given me too many possibilities. Now instead of one more I'll need 3 or 4. :lol

Thanks to all for the input and help.
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Old 12-14-18, 08:42 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Arboreal (or mostly arboreal) snakes for novices

Gah, I’m late to the party. What About an Amazon tree boa? They come in all different colors, are super pretty to look at, and stay small!
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