Mandarin Rat Snake

Euprepiophis mandarinus

Last updated: April 25, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Breck P. Kent/Shutterstock.com

"This docile snake is a popular and long-lived pet - though challenging to care for - with a lifespan of up to 21 years!"

Mandarin Rat Snake Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Family
Colubridae
Genus
Euprepiophis
Scientific Name
Euprepiophis mandarinus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Mandarin Rat Snake Conservation Status

Mandarin Rat Snake Locations

Mandarin Rat Snake Locations

Mandarin Rat Snake Facts

Prey
Mice, rodents
Fun Fact
"This docile snake is a popular and long-lived pet - though challenging to care for - with a lifespan of up to 21 years!"
Diet
Carnivore
Average Litter Size
5 to 34; 12 on average
Common Name
Mandarin rat snake

Mandarin Rat Snake Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Grey
  • Yellow
  • Black
Lifespan
15 to 21 years
Length
2.5 to 5 feet
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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“This docile snake is a popular and long-lived pet – though challenging to care for – with a lifespan of up to 21 years!”

Mandarin rat snakes are sought-after pets due to their calm, docile temperament and bright yellow bands. Originally from Asia, they are now kept as pets all over the world. Their diet consists of small rodents, and they often use rodent burrows for shelter. In captivity, they are often fed frozen rodents.

Mandarin Rat Snake Amazing Facts

  • Mandarin rat snakes have a vibrant coloration, though they lack the genetic mutations that usually produce such color morphs.
  • Mandarin rat snakes can live up to 21 years.
  • Mandarin rat snakes are diurnal, meaning they are active only during the day.

Where To Find Mandarin Rat Snakes

The Mandarin rat snake is endemic or native to Asia. Specifically, it can be found in the countries of India, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Taiwan, and China.

Mandarin rat snake habitat includes both fields and woodlands. They like rocky areas, farms, areas with dense vegetation, and rice fields Basically, they like to live wherever their primary food source – rodents – live.

The climate in this range is cool with high humidity. In fact, Mandarin rat snakes have been found living at elevations from sea level to 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) above sea level. They are thus more tolerant of cool temperatures (68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit) than are many other snakes.

If you want to see a Mandarin rat snake, though, the easiest way may be to visit your local pet store. They are a popular pet among reptile enthusiasts. These snakes are diurnal, meaning they are active during the day. They are likely to be out and about, exploring their well-designed enclosure.

Mandarin Rat Snake Scientific Name

The Mandarin rat snake’s scientific name is currently Euprepiophis mandarinus. It is in the class Reptilia (reptiles) and the family Colubridae.

Its scientific classification has been much debated for more than a century. In 1842, it was given the name Coluber mandarinus. It was changed to Ablabes pavo in 1912, Elaphe mandarinus in 1925, Elaphe takasago in 1930, and Holarchus roulei in 1933. Then, in 1943, it returned to a variation of a former name – Elaphe mandarina.

By 2002, genetic research on mitochondrial DNA prompted the change to its current scientific name.

Did you know? The term “Mandarin” refers to the Chinese language, hearkening back to this snake’s home territory.

Mandarin Rat Snake Population & Conservation Status

Mandarin rat snake populations have not been evaluated, but they are listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List.

Like most species, future threats include habitat destruction due to land development. Rising temperatures may also affect this snake.

How To Identify Mandarin Rat Snakes: Appearance and Description

Mandarin rat snakes have a striking appearance. Their faces are striped black and yellow like a honey bee. The body is gray, brown, or reddish morphs, with large black diamonds or saddles. Within each black diamond is a smaller yellow diamond. Unlike other snakes, its bright colors are not due to genetic morphs.

Full grown Mandarin rat snakes typically grow to a length of 2.5 to 5 feet, with the majority of individuals remaining less than 4 feet in size. The longest full grown Mandarin rat snake on record topped out at 6 feet in size. The snakes stay slender throughout their lives, averaging 1 pound.

Unlike some other snake species, Mandarin rat snakes are not sexually dimorphic – males and females look the same. Size varies widely between individuals.

Mandarin Rat Snake Venom: How Dangerous Are They?

Mandarin rat snakes are not venomous. They are not considered dangerous. In fact, they are often kept as pets due to their docile temperament.

While lacking venomous fangs, the snakes do have teeth. If aggravated, they may bite, breaking the skin. A possible infection could result.

Mandarin Rat Snake Behavior and Humans

In the wild, Mandarin rat snakes are sky and secretive. They try to stay away from people. They are a diurnal species that are active during the day, primarily at dawn and dusk. They like to hide and hunt inside small rodent burrows.

If disturbed, the snake will attempt to flee. If this fails, it may hiss, spit, expel a pungent musk, or bite.

Breeding takes place in the spring. After breeding, the female typically lays three to 12 eggs. The eggs hatch after 48 to 55 days of incubation.

Sometimes, Mandarin rat snakes are kept in captivity. At one time, most Mandarin rat snakes on the market were wild-caught and often died in captivity. Now, breeding them in captivity is more common. A 20 to 30-gallon aquarium is sufficient for an adult snake. They can become accustomed to handling and are generally docile.

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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

Mandarin Rat Snake FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Mandarin rat snakes venomous?

No, Mandarin rat snakes are not venomous.

How do Mandarin rat snakes hunt?

Mandarin rat snakes hunt mice and other small rodents. They enter rodent burrows, tracking the small animals. They are nonvenomous constrictors. After biting their prey, Mandarin rat snakes coil their bodies around the animal, squeezing it until it suffocates.

Are Mandarin rat snakes aggressive?

No, Mandarin rat snakes are not particularly aggressive. In the wild, they are shy and will flee from human contact. In captivity, they are docile and can become desensitized to being held.

Where do Mandarin rat snakes live?

In the wild, Mandarin rat snakes live in Asia. They occupy a wide range of habitats – farms, forests, and rocky fields with high humidity. They are present wherever mice, rats, and other rodents like to live.

Mandarin rat snakes are also kept as pets around the world.

What does a Mandarin rat snake eat?

In the wild, mandarin rat snakes eat small birds and rodents.

In captivity, they are often fed frozen baby mice that have been thawed. Keepers at the Brandywine Zoo feed the Mandarin rat snakes in their care two to three small mice every other week.

Are Mandarin rat snakes good pets?

According to Bowling Green State University, the Mandarin rat snake is a good pet snake for beginners. It has a docile temperament, requires no special lighting, and can be kept in a 20 to 30-gallon aquarium. It is one of the most popular rat snake species to keep as a pet due to its unique natural coloration.

Because it requires cooler temperatures and higher humidity than most snakes, care and keeping of Mandarin rat snakes can be a challenge. Wild-caught specimens often die in captivity, while captive-bred snakes fare better. They can also be difficult to acquire; most are offered by online breeders.

It should be noted that these snakes are escape artists. Young snakes often find ways to crawl out of their tanks.

Price can also be a hurdle to keeping this snake. Though the price varies widely, $150 to $400 USD is the usual price range for this snake.

How big do Mandarin rat snakes get?

Typically, Mandarin rat snakes grow to a length of 2.5 to 5 feet. The longest full-grown snake on record was 6 feet in length.

Sources
  1. , Available here: https://www.bgsu.edu/arts-and-sciences/biological-sciences/facilities-and-resources/bgsu-herpetarium/animals/reptiles/mandarin-rat-snake.html
  2. , Available here: https://brandywinezoovolunteers.weebly.com/uploads/2/6/7/9/26793551/2014_-_mandarin_ratsnake.pdf

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