Elaphe carinata

Elaphe carinata, the king ratsnake (also known as Taiwan stink snake), is a species of Colubrid snake found in Southeast Asia and East Asia.

King ratsnake
Elaphe carinata in Soochow University 20070428
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Elaphe
E. carinata
Binomial name
Elaphe carinata
(Günther, 1864)


Elaphe carinata is a large snake with total length up to 240 cm (7.9 ft). The other common names "stink snake" or "stinking goddess" refer to this species' highly developed post-anal glands which, when the snake is picked up, are frequently emptied, with a very strong, bad odour.[1]

Elaphe carinata is an active, predatory snake that eats everything from beetles to birds to snakes, with particular preference for the latter.[1]

The common name of "king ratsnake" refers to its habit of eating other snakes, including venomous species such as the Chinese cobra and the sharp-nosed viper. It suffocates its prey by constriction, similar to the hunting technique of boas and pythons. It also preys on rodents and other small animals.

There is some concern among herpetoculturists that the king ratsnake may actually be more closely related to the kingsnakes of the genus Lampropeltis than to its current taxonomic family of the ratsnakes (Elaphe). This is due in part to the dietary habits of the king ratsnake, in particular its preference for ectothermic prey such as snakes and lizards, and to the physical structure of the head, which is far less distinct than that of most rat snakes and closely resembles the elongated head and indistinct neck structure of the kingsnakes. In actuality, there is very little direct genetic relationship between the two genera. They share much more in common genetically with other Eurasian rat snakes such as the Russian Rat Snake (Elaphe schrenkii) and the Japanese Rat Snake (Elaphe climacophorea). They may also share a common lineage with the genera Coelognathus, Gonyosoma and Orthriophis. External morphological characteristics and behavior alone are generally not considered reliable taxonomic keys to classifying relationships between species, as the majority of current classification is based on DNA evidence. The superficial resemblance to American Kingsnakes is more likely an example of convergent evolution, Much Like the similarities between the South American Emerald Tree Boa (Corallus caninus) and the Indo-Australian Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis).

Distribution: China, North Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan (Ryukyu Islands).[2]


Elaphe carinata is one of major species in snake trade in China, particularly in skin trade but also of live animals.,[3] it is the most commonly available snake in restaurants.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c Hans Breuer & William Christopher Murphy (2009–2010). "Elaphe carinata". Snakes of Taiwan. Retrieved 15 October 2012. External link in |work= (help)
  2. ^ Elaphe carinata at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 15 October 2012.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Corn Snakes and other Rat Snakes, Richard D. Bartlett, copyright 1996, Barron's Educational Series

External links


Elaphe is one of the main genera of the rat snakes, which are found in many regions of the northern hemisphere. Elaphe spp. are medium to large constrictors by nature. All species are nonvenomous. Although all of the species in Elaphe are nonvenomous, bites from rat snakes are still irritably painful and can potentially cause bacterial infections due to the saliva.Based on the mitochondrial DNA analysis results, many species of Elaphe have been moved to the genera Bogertophis, Coelognathus, Gonyosoma, Orthriophis, Pantherophis, Rhinechis, Senticolis, Zamenis, and others.

Nevertheless, the generic name Elaphe is still widely used.

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.

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.

Ryukyu Islands

The Ryukyu Islands (琉球諸島, Ryūkyū-shotō), also known as the Nansei Islands (南西諸島, Nansei-shotō, lit. "Southwest Islands") or the Ryukyu Arc (琉球弧, Ryūkyū-ko), are a chain of Japanese islands that stretch southwest from Kyushu to Taiwan: the Ōsumi, Tokara, Amami, Okinawa, and Sakishima Islands (further divided into the Miyako and Yaeyama Islands), with Yonaguni the westernmost. The larger are mostly high islands and the smaller mostly coral. The largest is Okinawa Island.

The climate of the islands ranges from humid subtropical climate (Köppen climate classification Cfa) in the north to tropical rainforest climate (Köppen climate classification Af) in the south. Precipitation is very high and is affected by the rainy season and typhoons. Except the outlying Daitō Islands, the island chain has two major geologic boundaries, the Tokara Strait (between the Tokara and Amami Islands) and the Kerama Gap (between the Okinawa and Miyako Islands). The islands beyond the Tokara Strait are characterized by their coral reefs.

The Ōsumi and Tokara Islands, the northernmost of the islands, fall under the cultural sphere of the Kyushu region of Japan; the people are ethnically Japanese and speak a variation of the Kagoshima dialect of Japanese. The Amami, Okinawa, Miyako, and Yaeyama Islands have a native population collectively called the Ryukyuan people, named for the former Ryukyu Kingdom that ruled them. The varied Ryukyuan languages are traditionally spoken on these islands, and the major islands have their own distinct languages. In modern times, the Japanese language is the primary language of the islands, with the Okinawan Japanese dialect prevalently spoken. The outlying Daitō Islands were uninhabited until the Meiji period, when their development was started mainly by people from the Izu Islands south of Tokyo, with the people there speaking the Hachijō language.

Administratively, the islands are divided into Kagoshima Prefecture (specifically the islands administered by Kagoshima District, Kumage Subprefecture/District, and Ōshima Subprefecture/District) in the north and Okinawa Prefecture in the south, with the divide between the Amami and Okinawa Islands, with the Daitō Islands part of Okinawa Prefecture. The northern (Kagoshima) islands are collectively called the Satsunan Islands, while the southern part of the chain (Okinawa Prefecture) are called the Ryukyu Islands in Chinese.


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