Ladder snake, Rhinechis scalaris

Ladder snakes are easy to care for and less common than other popular colubrids

At a glance...
  • Ladder snakes are a great beginner option
  • Docile temperaments mean this snake will tolerate handling
  • Easy husbandry requirements and distinct body markings
Collection only
Price Match

Do Ladder snakes make good pets?

Ladder snakes are an Old World colubrid species endemic to Western and Southern Europe. They have similar husbandry requirements to the more popular New World colubrids such as corn snakes and king snakes, and have similar temperaments, making them great for both beginners, and more experienced keepers looking for something a little different.

At Swell Reptiles, all of our Ladder snakes are captive bred in the UK, meaning you can be safe in the knowledge that your new snake will be free of parasites and diseases, whilst having minimal impact on their native ecosystem.

What size vivarium does a Ladder snake need?

Ladder snakes are an extremely active species, covering large distances in their natural habitats. Therefore, despite being quite a small snake, they should be provided with plenty of space to explore and roam. We recommend a minimum adult enclosure size of 120 x 60 x 60cm (4 x 2 x 2ft) for this species, making the VivExotic Repti-Home Bearded Dragon Vivarium Large a great option.

Do Ladder snakes need heating?

Ladder snakes should be provided with a thermogradient that runs from warm to cool from one end of the enclosure to the other to allow them to properly regulate their internal body temperature. This gradient should have a warm, basking temperature between 30-32°C (86-89°F) in one end, and a cool end temperature of around 22°C (71°F).

This should be provided using an overhead heating system such as a basking lamp or a ceramic heat emitter. To ensure they do not overheat, all heating equipment should be attached to a compatible thermostat. For basking lamps, this would be a dimming thermostat, whereas, for ceramic heaters, this would be a pulse thermostat.

Do Ladder snakes need UV?

Ladder snakes are diurnal, so would regularly be exposed to sunlight in nature and can benefit significantly from the presence of a low-level UVB in captivity, with the ideal UVI range being between 2-3. This is usually achieved using an Arcadia ShadeDweller Max T5 placed 25-38cm (10-15”) from the snakes basking area, or an Arcadia ProT5 Kit - Forest 6% placed 38-45cm (15-18”) from the basking zone.

What substrate should I use for my Ladder snake?

Substrate for a Ladder snake should not hold too much humidity, as they are better kept with humidity ranging between 40-50%, which is within the range of average room humidity in the UK. We recommend using either a soft chip reptile bedding, or a sand-soil mix that more closely mimics a Ladder snake’s natural habitat, for example, Lucky Reptile Desert Bedding or Arcadia EarthMix Arid if you wish to add live plants.

How do I decorate a Ladder snake’s vivarium?

Your Ladder snakes should be provided with at least one hiding area at each end of the enclosure to give them a safe space at either end of the thermogradient, although the more cover you can add the better. This can be using either traditional reptile caves, or pieces of natural decor such as logs, cork bark flats rounds or half rounds. Foliage in the form of live or artificial plants will further add to this.

What do Ladder snakes eat?

Ladder snakes are carnivores, and do best on a diet of reptile frozen food. Older snakes can also take rats, but they tend to be quite fatty for these slender-bodied snakes and should not be used as a staple, as the snake is likely to become overweight which can lead to a host of related health issues.

How do I buy a Ladder snake?

If you would like to purchase one of our UK captive bred Ladder snakes, then please come into our store and see us, bringing with you some images of a suitable set-up ready for the snake to go into.

We will ask a few quick questions and also to see your set-up images, this is simply to ensure that all of our livestock goes to suitable homes where they will be adequately cared for. We reserve the right to refuse adoption to anyone we feel is unprepared to adopt.

If you would like to see some alternatives to Ladder snakes, you can take a look at our snake care guides, such as our Western hognose snake care guide.

Common names Ladder snake
Scientific name Rhinechis scalaris
Country Europe
Captive-bred Yes
Adult size 120-150cm (4-5ft)
Natural habitat Vineyards, hedges, human settlements and woodland habitats
Housing 120 x 60 x 60cm (4 x 2 x 2ft)
Ideal temperature 30-32°C (86-89°F) (warm end); 22°C (71°F) (cool end)
UVI 2-3
Ideal humidity 40-50%
Diet Carnivorous
Average lifespan 15-20 years
Personality Docile
Ease of handling Easy
Cohabitable No
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