09 Oct Red-tailed Green Rat Snake Care (Gonyosoma oxycephala)
Are you in the market for a colourful, mid-size snake with a reasonable temperament? Then we think a Red-tailed Green Rat Snake might be for you. As its name suggests, the Red-tailed Green Rat Snake sometimes has a red tail. However, this is not always the case. Sometimes the tail only has a slight hint of a red tint to it and sometimes it’s not even red at all. The body of the snake itself is usually a brilliant green colour, but variation exists and some snakes are grey, silver, or brown.
Red-tailed Green Rat Snake will grow to be anywhere from 150 to 170cm long and are considered mid-size snakes by reptile hobbyists, even though they are actually the largest species of rat snake. Because they are arboreal, their bodies are very limber and strong to enable them to navigate tree branches.
Red Tail Green Rat Snake Housing
An enclosure that is at least 90cm long and 75cm tall is recommended for a single Red-tailed Green Rat Snake. Because they are semi-arboreal, a Red-tailed Green Rat Snake’s home will require things to climb on such as wooden branches and either real or fake foliage.
As far as flooring is concerned, we recommend a traditional snake substrate such as wood shavings, reptile bark substrate or coco husk. A good substrate for a Red-tailed Green Rat Snake is something that holds moisture but doesn’t remain too wet. Just like any other snake species, you’ll want to be sure that there is adequate moisture inside the snake’s home, but also avoid keeping things too wet as this could foster respiratory infections. Choosing a good substrate is the first step to respiratory health.
Cage décor for Red-tailed Green Rat Snakes need not be elaborate, although there are two things that you want to be sure not to exclude. The first item is a large water dish. Humidity is important when keeping most reptile species and water dishes help to maintain proper moisture levels. We also want to recommend that some type of ground-level hide be placed in the cage, even if your snake does spend a lot of time climbing. Replaceable toilet paper rolls, bark hide spaces from pet stores, and even homemade hideouts are all acceptable options.
The temperature in your Red-tailed Green Rat Snake’s enclosure should stay in the range of 25-30℃. You can use heating cables, heating pads, or lamps to maintain this temperature. It’s also wise to invest in a thermometer so you can monitor this closely and make sure it doesn’t fluctuate too much.
Red-tailed Green Rat Snake Feeding
Although Red-tailed Green Rat Snakes eat lots of small animals in the wild, they will take to eating frozen/thawed mice pretty quickly, even if your pet snake happens to not be a captive bred animal. It might take some training, but Red-tailed Green Rat Snakes will readily accept pre-killed food. We recommend feeding around every seven to ten days for adults and bi-weekly for hatchlings.
Red Tail Green Rat Snake Temperament
While red tail green rat snakes are not known for being particularly docile, they are also not known for being on the defensive or aggressive side. We’ve found that if you handle your Red-tailed Green Rat Snake regularly and teach it to associate time outside the cage being handled with good things, it will take to human interaction quite well.
As far as handling is concerned, the only word of advice we have when it comes to picking up your Red-tailed Green Rat Snake is to be wary when you first remove it from its cage. Like many snake species, it’s not uncommon for a Red-tailed Green Rat Snake to be a bit nervous and fidgety, which can translate to a bad experience for both owner and animal if caution is not exercised. Just be calm and confident with your snake and it will cooperate with you.
Offering a night-time drop in temperature of approximately 1-3 degrees has proven successful to induce breeding, but is not required. This cooling process is traditionally begun as the temperatures start getting cooler from April in South Africa. Some breeders believe that this is the only way to induce a female to produce follicles; others think that as long as a proper gradient is offered to healthy adult animals, they will cycle on their own.
Regardless of which philosophy you espouse, increasing a female’s food availability before reproduction is still a good move (as stated, feed females every five days if they’re approaching a reproductive cycle). If you force a breeding season through temperature manipulation, the pair should be separated and introduced once they have been brought back up to normal temperatures. Following the traditional breeding cycle, expect eggs around April or May. You can house a pair together year-round (be sure to separate them when feeding) and theoretically end up with three to five eggs any month of the year. Multiple clutches per year are common with well-established pairings.
After ovulation, the female will shed and lay her clutch of eggs approximately 60 days afterward. Remove the eggs gently, keeping the same orientation as you found them. Place them in an incubator with a medium of perlite and water. The ratio of each should be 1:1 by weight. Eggs should be placed on the substrate, not buried into it, as is commonly done with other reptile eggs.
Incubation takes between 110 and 130 days at approximately 25-26℃. Offering a peak in humidity of around 80 percent throughout incubation may help avoid egg mortality during incubation. A spike can be facilitated by placing paper towels – soaked in tepid water and then wrung out – around, but not touching, the eggs.
Many keepers have incubated red-tailed green rat snake eggs in the mid-20s with success, but it is reported that higher incidents of malformed and dead-in-egg offspring occur when incubating at these higher temperatures. Be willing to learn from your animals and adjust your husbandry to meet their needs. Connect with other keepers and trade information. The more you research the animals you keep and pay attention to them, the more you – and your red-tailed green rat snakes – will get out of the experience.
Red-tailed Green Rat Snakes make exceptional and rewarding pets, as they beautiful display animals. As they are still not common this species is also great for breeders. We recommend them for hobbyists with moderate levels of experience due to their habitat requirements and somewhat flighty nature. There are a handful of breeders in South Africa working with this species, but they are still very rare. Hopefully in the future we will see them becoming more readily available.
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