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New Russian Ratsnake

Discussion in 'Ratsnakes' started by aasagan, Mar 6, 2005.

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  1. aasagan

    aasagan Junior Member

    I just got my first snake, a Russian Rat Snake. He's about 18 months old. I picked him out because he seemed very comfortable in my hands, calm, exploring with curiosity. Seems like an "easy" snake, a starter snake from what I've read so far. He was originally raised on frozen-thawed but the shop that sold him has been feeding live rat pinkies. I'm hoping to get him back on frozen thawed.

    I guess I'll be glad for ANY pointers about keeping this snake. The one question is about his enclosure. I read to keep them in a small enclosure when they're young, but this guy is nearly two years and about 2.5 feet long. I put him in a 20L with climbing and a hide and water, but do you think he can go in my big enclosure now, which is just under 4Lx1.5Wx4H?

    And, since the enclosure is so big and he seems so docile, can I house him with another snake someday? I read ratsnakes in general are okay together. Is it true?

    Thanks. Andy
  2. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    Congratulations on your new ratsnake. I can't wait to see pics.
    All new reptiles should be kept in quarantine for several weeks: that means a simple enclosure with not too much stuff in it and watch for mites or other parasites. :eek: (BELIEVE ME, if you find mites, you'll be happy you kept him in a simple enclosure.) In this time you should also take a stool sample to the vet and have it checked for internal parasites.
    After all that, if everything is OK, I think he could probably go in the bigger enclosure already: as long as there are enough places for him to hide, it shouldn't take him too long to get used to it.

    I also hope you can convert him back to F/T food. My BP got tapeworms from eating live mice!

    As for housing a couple together: opinions diverge on this point. I, personally, think you can try it: just make sure you clean out the whole terrarium, wash everything, re-arrange the "furniture" and then introduce the snakes into it at the same time. (After the new snake has gone through quarantine, too!!!) If they are not going to get along, you'll know pretty quick and have to separate them. (So be ready to provide another suitable home for one of them.)
    I've seen ratsnakes housed together a lot, so, theoretically, it shouldn't be a problem.
    The problems are more for you:
    1) You should take them out and feed them individually in separate plastic containers. (This is just generally good practice anyway: you know who ate how much, there's no risk of them swallowing substrate and they're less likely to snap at your warm hand entering the terrarium!)
    2) Keeping track of which urates and feces belong to which snake is nearly impossible, so I would only put them together AFTER you've had stool samples taken from each snake and both have come back OK.

    The advantages are:
    1) You save space, time and money: cleaning, heating and lighting only one terrarium.
    2) It's interesting to see how the snakes interact with eachother. Although they are not considered "social" animals, mine really often chose to curl up together in one box than have the extra space of the other ones available. (except when one is in shed: then she prefers to be left alone and the other obviously understands that.)

    Anyway, that's my advice this morning. Hope it helps! If I forgot anything, someone else will fill it in. If you have any more questions, ask... someone will always answer!
    Good luck with your new guy and post pics when you can! :D
  3. steel rip

    steel rip Elite Member

    Hello, congrats on your new snake, I currently have 2 rat snakes one adult one juvenile, the juvinile is a yellow rat snake and the adult is a black albino.
  4. aasagan

    aasagan Junior Member

    Thanks very much for that help, I appreciate it. Here are some pics of him and his current enclosure and the one I hope to put him in soon. Obviously the current enclosure isn't spartan, so I'll clean that up for the quarantine period. I gave him a pretty good look over and didn't see anything infestation wise. I mean I just read a book and remembered what they said to look for, and he seemed fine. So much of it comes down to trusting the seller. This was a pet store that specializes in reptiles, selling at a local swap, but I don't know them well. Watching how they evaluated other snakes being offered for sale, and the fact that they did not make potential buyers clean their hands before handling the animals did not fill me with confidence. Anyway, anything you could add would be welcome and thanks again. Andy




  5. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member


    Wow, that's a real beauty! Congratulations!
    You don't have to take everything out of the tank for quarantine: although newspaper is the easiest to get rid of if you do find mites.
    I would recommend 1-2 hide boxes, a branch, the water dish and thermometers with newspaper or paper towel substrate for at least 3 weeks.
    Check regularly around the eyes and in the groove under the chin for any moving specks which could be mites.

    The new enclosure looks great. That will make a great home for him. But he doesn't look too cramped in the other one yet. I'm not sure about the humidity requirements for Ratsnakes, but if you need to get it more humid, try covering up some of the screen top. Some people recommend covering it with damp towels.
  6. steel rip

    steel rip Elite Member

    What a little stunner, he is gorgeous, his tanks look great, he wouldnt need much humidity, the care is the same as a corn basically :p
  7. DarkMagician207

    DarkMagician207 Elite Member

    what a cute little guy. the enclosure is awesome. can't wait to see more pics. :)
  8. aasagan

    aasagan Junior Member

    Well, the transition back to frozen/thawed went well. All I had to do was bring it near him, shake it a bit, and he followed to an open area like I was the Pied Piper! He gobbled that little rat up in a second.

    Can I ask a couple more quickies?

    1. How do I know he's satiated? He ate this rat pinkie so quick, may he'd like another? I was planning once a week, but that seems so little?

    2. My book says not to handle him for a couple days after eating. Do you agree?

    3. And what about variety? My turtles and guinea pigs love variety, but are snakes pretty much not into that?

    4. A guy at the swap made some cryptic remark about the pinkie rats being of much better nutritional value than the mice. What was THAT all about? Should be the same right? He said something like, "Oh he won't get much out of those mice (compared to rats)."

    5. How picky do I really need to be about the quality of the frozen rodents? I mean, what's the concern about here? I noticed some internet vendors that seem to put a lot of care into the product, noting the quality of the rodent's diet, and hygiene, and humane sacrifice method, but I bought a bag of 50 rat pinkies at the swap that everybody seemed to be buying from, without much fanfare. I dust most of my turtle's food, but not for snakes right?

    Hey, thanks again. Andy
  9. Rich

    Rich Administrator Staff Member Premium Member

    If the meal you fed the snake leaves a "bump" that is visible, he has eaten enough. Feeding too much, too often can lead to problems down the line. Once a week or every 7-10 days with a properly sized rodent will suffice.

    It is a good idea not to handle the snake for a few days after they have eaten. This gives them time to digest their food. if they are handled too soon, they may regurgitate the prey.

    Stick with one rodent. There is no need to mix it up. Unlike other reptiles, the snake will receive all the nutrients required from eating the same prey item.

    The pinkie rats are better than mice nutritionally.

    People who power feed their rats are better to buy from. Your snake is going to be eating the rat. You want him eating the most nutritious rats that he can. If the dealer is selling rats that are being fed diets containing high vitamin and mineral content, then so too will your snake as he digests the rat.

    You don't need to dust the prey. It isn't required.

    Hope this helps.
  10. aasagan

    aasagan Junior Member

    Sure does, thanks.

    His little rat pinkie left a bulge for about ten minutes. Now he's back to normal. Hate to over focus on details, but does that count as satisfied? The pinkies are just about as wide as his head at this point. I really can't see a bulge now hours after ingestion.

    My other pets are so easy to read re: hunger. This is quite different.
  11. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member


    Rats have a lot more meat on them than mice (mice are pretty much hair and bones) So a pinky rat will give your snake much much more per meal than a mouse. I know it looks small, but it's packed with everything the snake needs.
    I would say stick to one pinky rat per week for a while. My BP and BRBs tend to cruise their cages more when they are hungry. (This is good exercise for them, so I always wait an extra day after I notice this before feeding.)
    If you feel that you're snake has not had enough, you can defrost 2 pinkie rats next time and see if he'll take a second one after he's eaten the first. But don't feed more often than once a week. They have very slow digestion and need at least that much time.
    Each time I've tried 2 pinkie rats with my BP, he's refused the second one, so be prepared to throw out a good rat if it's refused. (You can refreeze it once, but it's usually not worth it. They tend to get thin skin in the defrost process and can burst next time! :eek: )
    I've heard only good things about for frozen rats. (Unfortunately they don't ship to Switzerland.)

    Handling after eating should be avoided for at least 2-3 days IMO. I read somewhere that the bones of the mouse or rat can perforate the stomach lining if the snake his handled too soon after eating. I'm not sure if that's true, but I won't take that chance with my snakes.
    Mainly I think that any extra stress can cause them to regurgitate. This is icky for you and really not healthy for the snake.
    I hope that helps! :)
  12. aasagan

    aasagan Junior Member

    Thanks, very helpful. Experience the best teacher. Thanks again.
  13. smallgrayfox

    smallgrayfox Contributing Member

    Beautiful snake! I love rat snakes :) Don't have one, but I'd like to someday...I think you're going to love having a snake! They make the best pets :D
  14. aasagan

    aasagan Junior Member

    Here's the cage almost finished. I took your advice and created a variety of hides. There are two on the bottom made of rock. One on the shelf from one of those wired stick things you get for small mammals.

    I was wondering if you though sand would be okay as a substrate on the shelf level. He'll probably feed on the top of the stone hides below, so ingestion of sand won't occur. Is sand okay? It will be quite warm as there's a lot of lighting underneath the shelf.



  15. BlackJack

    BlackJack Subscribed User Premium Member

    I would STRONGLY recommend feeding the snake outside of the terrarium. A plastic sweater box works fine for this.
    It is MUCH MUCH safer for the snake. You do not have to worry about him ingesting any foreign matter this way. (As long as you keep the waterbowls clean)
    Also if he is used to being fed inside the terrarium, he could mistake your hand for food when it comes in to pick him up! My snakes are always fed in a separate bucket and have never struck at me reaching into the terrarium.
    I can't advise you on the aspen shavings or sand, as I really don't know if they're appropriate for ratsnakes.
  16. aasagan

    aasagan Junior Member

    Yes, got it. Forgot about that. Today will be only the second time I've fed him. He shed this week between feeds. I've got just the place to feed him outside the enclosure. Thanks for the reminder.
  17. kenman1963

    kenman1963 Moderator

    I'm confused,,,,,is this setup for your Russian Rat or the BD's ???
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