It is important to provide a good amount of space for your Rat snake, so they can exercise and be mentally stimulated, baring in mind the Licorice Black Rat Snake has the potential to reach 5ft in length. A minimum of 4 x 2 x 2ft is recommended which should ensure the individual can fully stretch out and thermo-regulate properly as well as have sufficient manoeuvrability. These snakes also have great climbing ability even though they are terrestrial, so something to climb on such as branches or logs, along side a good mix of foliage, rocks and tunnels will massively improve their well being and activity. A number of hides such as caves or cork bark is also important, ideally at least one on the hot and one on the cold end, though more is beneficial, to ensure your Rat Snake feels secure in all areas of its enclosure and reduce stress. To make the environment even more stimulating you can also change decor around every now and then! Another vital addition is a water bowl, ideally large enough for the snake to submerge in, which will not only keep them hydrated, but provide them opportunity to bathe - great for when they are shedding. The bowl would be best placed in the cooler area to prevent the water evaporating and contributing to humidity.
For substrate, Rat Snakes can be kept on a soft wood, such as soft chip, orchid bark or on a more natural sand/soil mix, replicating their natural habitat a bit more. The sand mix ensures that the soil is not too humid on its own. This should be spot cleaned as needed, as snakes do tend to only defecate once a week, and then fully cleaned on a regular basis, ideally every couple of months with a reptile safe disinfectant.
Your Rat Snake cannot regulate its own internal body temperatures without external heat sources. This means there needs to be a good heat gradient within the vivarium, giving them a hot end of around 30 - 32C, going down to about 22 - 25C at the cool end, and including a drop to around 15C overnight to replicate a natural night time drop. This can be achieved best with the use of a basking bulb or ceramic bulb. Heat sources will need to be attached to the relevant thermostat to ensure the safety of your animal and prevent overheating. Temperatures can be measured with an accurate digital thermometer. Additionally any bulbs will require a bulb guard on them, as snakes do have a tendency to wrap around bulbs, especially such good climbers, which can cause burns. As with all snakes, UVB has not always been used in keeping the Rat Snake, however it is present in their natural setting and has been shown to be extremely beneficial to their general health and well-being, boosting their immune systems and overall wellness, so a low level, like Arcadia's Shade dweller or alternatively, for the larger vivariums such as the adult 2ft tall, a 6% strip with reflector may be more beneficial. All UV will need replacing every 6 - 12 months - depending on the bulb and brand, as after this they are no longer effective even if still glowing.
Rat Snakes are best fed on frozen thawed rodents, going up in size as they grow. An adult may reach the size to take a young rat depending on the size of the snake but mice are best as staple for weekly feeding, having more protein rats are more appropriate less often. As youngsters that are still growing, weekly feeding is ideal, though this may be extended to every other week for adults, using their body condition to judge this and depending on their meal.
Swell SuperStore Licorice Black Rat Snake:
- Current Age/Size - 25 - 30cm approx
- Adult Expected Size - 4 - 5ft
- Habitat - Woodlands, fields and rocky outcrops of North America. Terrestrial living though great climbers.
- Required Enclosure Size - 4 x 2 x 2ft /
- UV Lighting - 2 - 3 UVI (Shade dweller or 6% T5 - enclosure height dependent)
- Expected Lifespan - 15 - 20 Years
- Temperature Gradient - 22 - 32C
- Humidity Levels - 40 - 50%
- Feeding - Carnivores - frozen prey such as mice, rats, and chicks. Feeding every 1-2 weeks.
- Handling - Can be snappy when young though usually easily tamed. Handling to be avoided 48 hours after feeding and when shedding.
If you like the look of these animals, and would like any further information, please call the shop directly on 0161 351 4705, or contact them for more images or information at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Livestock List is updated regularly, but please call ahead to ensure we still have what you want, or to reserve something you may have seen.