Rhinechis scalaris

( The ladder snake)

Rhinechis scalaris male
Rhinechis scalaris male
The ladder snake is one of the smaller european ratsnakes. It can reach about 150 cm, but is normally 100 - 120 cm in length.It is found in the western part of Europe including Portugal, Spain, the southern of France and the islands Menorca and Iles Hyeres. The ladder snake inhabit many different habitats but prefers warm south turning and sunny places in the vicinity of escape posibilities in form of bushes or stonewalls. They love the heat and can be found hunting in the middle of the day even in midsummer.
It is an atypical ratsnake and seems more similar to the american bullsnakes (Pithuophis) or Arizona elegans.
They prey on lizards, snakes, amphibiens, birds and mammels up to a size of a small rabbit.
The ladder snake is protected by law under the Bern - Convention
The ladder snake is unfortunately pretty rare in captivity. There are a few breeders left especially in USA, but the amount of animals in captivity is very low and it is endangered to disappear from the hobby.
Rhinechis scalaris, copulation
It is one of the easiest snakes to keep. They are very resistant against parasites and are easy to accept mice or small rats as feeding objects. Even newborn juveniles accept baby mice after few days.
The terrarium should be large and high because they are active snakes that loves to climb. The heating spots should be in the upper half to insure that they always are showing themselves at their best. In nature these snakes are very aggressive, but they quickly adapt the captive conditions and gets calm even when handled.
Rhinechis scalaris hatching
They reach maturity in 16 month - 2½ years depending on how much they are fed. A deep and long hibernation has shown mandatory for breeding success. Hibernation should be 2,5 - 4,5 month at 7 - 12*C. After hibernation the sexes are seperated untill first shedding. It can be difficult to get the males to copulate. Serious cleaning to remove all smell in the terrarium has proven to be a good idea, and more males together also improves the copulation rate.
A clutch can consist of up to 15 eggs (normally 5-8) and is deposited about 45 days after copulation and 7-12 days after shedding. A few days prior the female starts to be very active and seeks for the best place for her eggs. We use a plastic shoebox half filled with moist live sphagnum moss but if the female cannot find a suitable place she will use the water container and the eggs are destroyed.
The eggs hatches after 54 -59 days at 27*C. The juveniles are ready for their first meal after their first shedding and accept newborn pinckies as food from the start.