Hello, Frank Indiviglio here. The Trans-Pecos Ratsnake, Bogertophis subocularis, stands apart form it’s many relatives in both appearance and habits. Please see Part 1 of this article to learn more about the natural history of this most interesting desert-dweller.
Although less closely related to the “typical” ratsnakes (i.e. the Yellow Ratsnake, please see photo) than originally believed, the basic care of the Trans-Pecos closely follows that of other commonly kept species. Please see the article below for general care; today I’ll focus on points specific to the Trans-Pecos Ratsnake.
Humidity and Ventilation
The Trans-Pecos Ratsnake hails from deserts and other arid habitats. While hardy in general, it is very prone to fungal skin diseases if kept in damp conditions. Although less well studied, respiratory problems are also likely if the cage is poorly ventilated.
Be sure to keep your snake in a terrarium equipped with a screen cover. If you are using plastic containers to raise hatchlings, a few air-holes, as might suffice for other snakes, will not do. Ample cross-ventilating holes must be drilled, or your snakes will not thrive.
Water bowls should only be filled to a point where they will not overflow if the snake coils up within; spills and feces must be cleaned quickly. A cave or plastic box filled with damp sphagnum moss is useful at shedding time.
Trans-Pecos Ratsnakes hail from warm habitats, but spend most of their time below-ground and thus are not exposed to temperature extremes. Provide a thermal gradient ranging from 74-85 F, with a basking site of 90 F.
Although lizards likely form a significant part of the natural diet, especially for small individuals, Trans-Pecos Ratsnakes usually take mice (unlike Vine Snakes and other lizard specialists). Hatchlings can be started on pink mice.
Breeding Trans-Pecos Ratsnakes is very interesting and enjoyable – at least 18 beautiful color variations have been developed to date (please see article below); with a bit of experimentation you could likely add to that number!
A cooling-off period of 4-8 weeks at 60-68 F should be used to bring adults into breeding condition. Mating generally occurs from May-July, with eggs being produced after a gestation period of 35-50 days. Clutches may contain 2-10 eggs, with 5 being typical. Eggs hatch after an incubation period of 75 days at 82 F, with a range of 65-105 days, depending upon temperature. Hatchlings average 12-15 inches in length.
Please write in with your questions and comments.
Thanks, until next time,
Excellent photos of the many beautiful color variations of the Trans-Pecos Ratsnake can be viewed here
Video: wild Trans-Pecos ratsnake foraging
Yellow Rat Snake image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by leppyone
Trans Pecos Rat Snake image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Dawson