Beauty rat snake

The beauty rat snake (Elaphe taeniura), also called the beauty ratsnake, the beauty snake, or the cave racer, is a species of snake in the family Colubridae. The species is native to the eastern and southeastern regions of Asia. It is a long, thin, semi-arboreal species of snake with several recognized subspecies. This constrictor feeds on rodents, and though it is favored in some locations as a natural pest control or pet, it is also considered an invasive species in other locations.[2][3][4]

Beauty rat snake
Taiwan beauty rat snake
(Elaphe taeniura friesei)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Orthriophis
O. taeniura
Binomial name
Orthriophis taeniura
(Cope, 1861)
  • Elaphe tæniura
    Cope, 1861
  • Coluber tæniurus
    Boulenger, 1890
  • Elaphe taeniura
    Stejneger, 1907
  • Orthriophis taeniurus
    — Utiger et al., 2002


Living about 15–25 years, the average length of the beauty rat snake (including the tail) is about 4–6 feet (1.2–1.8 m), with an unofficial record of a little less than 9.2 feet (2.8 meters) property of Simona and Janey, 2 girls from Den Haag (Netherland). The snake is called Obi One Kenobi.[2]


Generally speaking, the ground color is yellowish-brown to olive which becomes darker at the end of the tail.[2] The skin on the back of the neck and head are uniform in color and the back is marked typically with two pairs of round black spots that meld together. Starting at the back corner of eacheye, a black stripe reaches back to each corner of the mouth which is pale cream around the upper labial area.

Subspecies and distribution


Subspecies of this species include:

  • Chinese beauty snake (Elaphe taeniura taeniura) - Native to China.[5] This subspecies has 11 different morphs.[6]
  • Ridley's beauty snake, cave dwelling ratsnake, cave racer (Elaphe taeniura ridleyi) - Native to Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia. Bred in captivity in Cameron Highlands.[7] Is listed as Vulnerable on the China Species Red List.[7] (As the name implies, often lives deep within caves where its diet consists mainly of bats. They have a yellow to beige background color that darkens to a grey-black towards the tail. A white to cream mid-dorsal stripe starts about half of the way down the body and continues to the tip of tail. Both sides of the head are marked just behind the eye with a black stripe surrounded by blue.)
  • Mocquard's beauty rat snake (Elaphe taeniura mocquardi) - Native to southeastern China and northern Vietnam, as well as the island of Hainan.
  • Taiwan/Taiwanese beauty snake, stripe tail ratsnake (Elaphe taeniura friesei, previously Elaphe taeniura friesi)[3] - Native to Taiwan.[3]
  • Vietnamese blue beauty/blue beauty snake (Elaphe taeniura callicyanous) - Native to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.[8]
  • Helfenberger’s beauty snake (Elaphe taeniura helfenbergeri) - Native to Myanmar and Thailand.[9]
  • Elaphe taeniura grabowskyi - Native to Sumatra and the provinces of East Malaysia and Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
  • Elaphe taeniura schmackeri - Native to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.
  • Elaphe taeniura yunnanensis - Native to China, India, Laos, Myanmar, eastern Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Elaphe taeniura ssp. - Native to Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.

Geographic range and habitat

The range of the species covers much of southern and southeastern Asia, excluding western and northeastern China.[1] Within these countries, these snakes can be typically found in the rain forests as well as within caves.[2] Currently, there is no specific information on the beauty rat snake's preferred caves, rain forests and climate available.



Due to their preference for caves, these snakes have become able climbers and are known to move along cave walls. This ability becomes a strong asset for them when it comes to hunting. In addition, likely due to its cave-dwelling habits, beauty rat snakes are cathemeral, meaning that they are active at random times during the 24-hour day regardless of whether it is day or night outside.[2]


Relatively small, the beauty rat snake typically feeds on ground rodents such as mice and, due to the snake's climbing abilities, even bats that are roosting within the caves they share. In addition to small mammals, beauty rat snakes have also been known to eat birds and bird eggs occasionally. Further information on hunting habits of the beauty rat snake is not currently available.


The beauty rat snake species is oviparous and mating usually results about a month after hibernation period which is during times where the temperature is around 18–20 °C (64–68 °F).[1] After laying 4-12 eggs, the female will incubate and defend them for about 70 days, only taking occasional breaks to hunt. Recently hatched young range about 30–45 cm (11 3417 34 in) in length. About 2 weeks later they will begin to shed their first skin. Within the next 14 months, hatchlings grow to be about 135 cm (4 ft 5 in) long and are able to breed another 4 months later.

Threats and Predators

Though beauty rat snakes are typically in less accessible caves, the top predators of these serpents are birds and mammals.[2] Currently, there is no specific information of the predators of beauty rat snakes available.

Ecosystem services

Due to their diets, the beauty rat snakes (as well as other rodent-eating serpents) provide a form of natural pest control that can be a benefit to people and other species that are affected by rodents.[2]

Interaction with humans

The beauty rat snake is largely traded in the Chinese snake skin and live snake trade.[10] Overall, the Chinese beauty snake, Taiwan beauty snake and Vietnamese blue beauty snake are the most popular of the subspecies to be kept as pets.[6][3] Pop culture has also been influenced by the beauty rat snake by having Mozler, the main monster from the 1988 Hong Kong film Thunder of Gigantic Serpent, be of the same species. Though Mozler displays a calm temperament, this is seen mainly in captive bred snakes. Wild caught snakes can have difficult dispositions despite being kept as pets for several years.

As an invasive species

Though the overall species is native to Asia, certain subspecies have become invasive in regions of Asia to which they are not local. The cause of their invasion varies but one of the leading causes is individuals that have been transported by the pet trade and escaping or being released by owners. Another reason has been military movement of resources which has created routes along which serpents can move.[11]

On the island of Okinawa one subspecies of beauty rat snake, suspected to be the Taiwanese beauty snake, has been established as an invasive species since the late 1970s. The Taiwanese beauty snake was originally brought onto the islands to be displayed at zoos as well as for medicinal purposes but now has spread through forests and urban locations. According to the article Invasive Species of Japan, the "spread of [the Taiwanese Beauty Snake] to northern part of Okinawa Island could threaten endemic and endangered birds and mammals, such as Gallirallus okinawae, Erithacus komadori namiyei, Diplothrix legata, Tokudaia muenninki, etc."[4] As of yet, there is no further published information on the exact impact of the Taiwanese beauty snake's invasion into Okinawa.

Control strategies

Policies and laws

Currently, according to the Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Act, it is illegal in Japan to own, transport or bring any Taiwanese beauty snake into the country.[4] The IAS Act also maintains a list differentiating between Invasive Alien Species (IAS) Uncategorized Alien Species (UAS) and Living Organisms Required to have a Certificate Attached (LORCA) while they are brought into the country. The Taiwanese beauty snake is the only subspecies of beauty rat snake labeled as an IAS. The subspecies Orthiophis taeniurus schmackeri is the only one listed as an exemption of the UAS category but all subspecies (exempting the prohibited Taiwanese beauty snake) classify as LORCAs.[12]


  1. ^ a b c Elaphe taeniura at the Reptile Database
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "PARIS - Cave Rat Snake". Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  3. ^ a b c d "Orthriophis taeniurus friesi - Taiwan Beauty Snake - Ratsnake Information". Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  4. ^ a b c "Beauty snake / Invasive Species of Japan". Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  5. ^ "Orthriophis t. taeniurus - Chinese Beauty Snake - Ratsnake Information". Archived from the original on 2016-07-14. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  6. ^ a b "Chinese Beauty Snake Morph Guide - Ratsnake Information". Archived from the original on 2016-10-24. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  7. ^ a b "Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi - Ridley's Beauty Snake - Ratsnake Information". Archived from the original on 2016-07-14. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  8. ^ "Orthriophis taeniurus callicyanous - Blue Beauty Snake - Ratsnake Information". Archived from the original on 2016-07-14. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  9. ^ "Orthriophis taeniurus helfenbergeri – Helfenberger's Beauty Snake - Ratsnake Information". Archived from the original on 2017-03-28. Retrieved 2017-03-27.
  10. ^ Zhou Z, Jiang Z (2004). "International trade status and crisis for snake species in China". Conservation Biology. 18 (5): 1386–1394. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00251.x.
  11. ^ Pitt, William C.; Stahl, Randal S.; Yoder, Christi (2010-01-01). "Emerging Challenges of Managing Island Invasive Species: Potential Invasive Species Unintentionally Spread from Military Restructuring".
  12. ^ Fumito Koike; Mick N. Clout; Mieko Kawamichi; Maj De Poorter; Kunio Iwatsuki (1 January 2006). Assessment and control of biological invasion risks (PDF). SHOUKADOH Book Sellers. ISBN 978-4-87974-604-7.

Further reading

  • Cope ED (1861). "Catalogue of the Colubridæ in the Museum of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia. Part 3". Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 12 [1860]: 553-566. (Elaphe tæniurus, new species, pp. 565–566).

External links

Keibul Lamjao National Park

The Keibul Lamjao National Park (Meitei: ꯀꯩꯕꯨꯜꯂꯝꯖꯥꯎ; Kei - Tiger, Bul - vast, Lamjao-Large Land) is a national park in the Bishnupur district of the state of Manipur in India. It is 40 km2 (15.4 sq mi) in area, the only floating park in the world, located in North East India, and an integral part of Loktak Lake.

The national park is characterized by many floating decomposed plant materials locally called phumdis. To preserve the natural refuge of the endangered Manipur Eld's deer or brow-antlered deer (Cervus eldi eldi), or sangai also called the dancing deer, listed as an endangered species by IUCN, the park which was initially declared to be a sanctuary in 1966, was subsequently declared to be a national park in 1977 through a gazette notification. The act has generated local support and public awareness.

List of introduced species

A complete list of introduced species for even quite small areas of the world would be dauntingly long. Humans have introduced more different species to new environments than any single document can hope to record. This list is generally for established species with truly wild populations— not kept domestically—that have been seen numerous times, and have breeding populations. While most introduced species can cause a negative impact to new environments they reach, some can have a positive impact, just for conservation purpose.

List of invasive species in Asia

This is a list of invasive species in Asia. A species is regarded as invasive if it has been introduced by human action to a location, area, or region where it did not previously occur naturally (i.e., is not a native species), becomes capable of establishing a breeding population in the new location without further intervention by humans, and becomes a pest in the new location, directly threatening agriculture and/or the local biodiversity.

The term invasive species refers to a subset of those species defined as introduced species. If a species has been introduced but remains local, and is not problematic to agriculture or to the local biodiversity, then it cannot be considered to be an invasive species and does not belong on this list.

List of invasive species in Japan

A number of introduced species, some of which have become invasive species, have been added to Japan's native flora and fauna.

List of reptiles of China

China has around 403 different species of reptiles that can be found in many environments including deserts, grasslands, rivers, and forests. It is the country with the seventh largest amount of different reptile species.

List of snakes by common name

This is a list of extant snakes, given by their common names. Note that the snakes are grouped by name, and in some cases the grouping may have no scientific basis.

Oakland Zoo

The Oakland Zoo is a zoo located in the Grass Valley neighborhood of Oakland, California, United States. Established in 1922, it is managed by the Conservation Society of California, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of wildlife both locally and globally. The Zoo is home to over 700 native and exotic animals. It's recognized for its outstanding animal care, particularly its elephant care program, and for its Leed-certified, 17,000 square foot, state-of-the-art veterinary hospital—the largest wild animal veterinary facility in Northern California.

On July 12, 2018, the Oakland Zoo opened the California Trail to the public, focusing on this state's remarkable native wildlife—both past and present.


Phumdis (Meitei: ꯐꯨꯝꯗꯤ) are a series of floating islands, exclusive to the Loktak Lake in Manipur state, in northeastern India. They cover a substantial part of the lake area and are heterogeneous masses of vegetation, soil and organic matter, in different stages of decay. The largest single mass of phumdi is in the southeastern part of the lake, covering an area of 40 km2 (15.4 sq mi). This mass constitutes the world’s largest floating park, named Keibul Lamjao National Park. The park was formed to preserve the endangered Eld's deer subspecies, called sangai in the Meitei language, indigenous to this area.Phumdis are used by the local people for constructing their huts for fishing and other livelihood uses, and are inhabited by about 4000 people. Athapums are artificial circular phumdis, built by the villagers as enclosures for fish farming; aquaculture has caused proliferation of the phumdis in the lake.

Rat snake

Rat snakes are members – along with kingsnakes, milk snakes, vine snakes and indigo snakes – of the subfamily Colubrinae of the family Colubridae. They are medium to large constrictors and are found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere. They feed primarily on rodents and birds. With some species exceeding 2.5 m (8 ft) in total length, they can occupy top levels of some food chains. Many species make attractive and docile pets and one, the corn snake, is one of the most popular reptile pets in the world. Other species can be very skittish and sometimes aggressive, but bites are rarely serious. Like nearly all colubrids, rat snakes pose no threat to humans. Rat snakes were long believed to be completely nonvenomous, but recent studies have shown that some Old World species do possess small amounts of venom, though the amount is negligible relative to humans.Previously, most rat snakes were assigned to the genus Elaphe, but many have been since renamed following mitochondrial DNA analysis performed in 2002. For the purpose of this article, names will be harmonized with the TIGR Database.

Scaly Adventures

Scaly Adventures, also known as Pierce's Scaly Adventures, is an American reality television series with worldwide distribution. The series launched on September 7, 2013, and is currently in production. Scaly Adventures is an E/I (educational/informational) television show featuring Richard, Tanya, and Pierce Curren as they travel to different locations to profile exotic animals and adventure-type entertainment. At the beginning of production, Pierce Curren was the youngest animal education television personality with an internationally distributed show reaching 6 of 7 continents weekly.

Wildlife of Japan

The wildlife of Japan includes its flora, fauna and natural habitats. The islands of Japan stretch a long distance from north to south and cover a wide range of climatic zones. This results in a high diversity of wildlife despite Japan's isolation from the mainland of Asia. In the north of the country, north of Blakiston's Line, there are many subarctic species which have colonized Japan from the north. In the south there are south-east Asian species, typical of tropical regions. Between these areas lies the temperate zone which shares many species with China and Korea. Japan also has many endemic species that are found nowhere else in the world.


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