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_Jd   SoLA   Rolandslf  
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 Baby Rat Snakes

I got two juvenile rat snakes from egg, I guess they are eastern rat snakes of some sort, found in NC. I dug up a clutch in my backyard & even though I accidentally destroyed two of the eggs, there were 2 others I didn’t break with my spade. Not being new to reptiles & having no idea what kind of eggs they were, I kept them in a homemade incubator & got two baby approx 12 inch rat snakes within a month. If they had been cottonmouths or copperheads I would have killed them most likely, or sold them to anti-venom companies if I could do it before they died.

They were just cute little rat/corn snakes both starving for food, so I fed them the same number of artic mice pinkies and a couple of crickets at first. Once I tried the artic mice & realized they’re big enough at birth to eat pinkies, I fed every couple days for a week, & then started feeding every 7 days. I want to sex them but I’m not sure how. The bigger one that hatched first is very dark compared to the other & growing much faster then the other one. I don’t know what this could mean, I’m guessing it’s the gender of the snakes, but I guess it could be genetics. One snake is still about 12-14 inches & the other is already at around 20 in. They’re only a week apart in age, both about two months old.

I also have them separated right now, I know they’re constrictors. They seem fine when I have them together, but I’m afraid to mix them at night or when I’m not able to supervise. I’m afraid one might try and constrict & kill the other. Is this fear founded at all or should I worry about this??

I’m also very sure I want to keep only one of them. So if anyone in the NC area, who can promise to take good care of a snake, wants a rat snake, please let me know?? Otherwise I’ll probably have to release one, & I’ve heard after a couple months of being hand fed, a young-ling hatched in captivity has little chance of survival in the wild. Both of these snakes are handled very easily & like to move a lot, they don’t seem to mind any people at all even new ones. They just don’t like being picked up before you let them lick (aka smell) you, and they don’t like sudden movements, especially ones directly overhead of them, but this can be said for all pet snakes. Both snakes have been handled & held by my 5 year old niece, so they are kid friendly.

So, I’ll take any advice. I want to know how to sex them, why there’s a size & color difference, if they mix well, could I release or is it a bad idea, if the one growing faster will be bigger as an adult, what size should I expect them to be as adults, & if anyone wants one I’ll re-ask questions that weren’t clear later in this thread.

Thanks for all the advice & help.


05/28/10  05:56pm


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  Message To: _Jd   In reference to Message Id: 2151204

 Baby Rat Snakes

I will try and start from the beginning. They were not going to be cottonmouth or copperhead eggs. Both of those snakes give live birth. If that was a concern you had, you should probably not have incubated them. Antivenin companies would also not have been interested in baby cottonmouth or copperheads.

They can eat small rodents right out of the egg (usually they will refuse food until after their first shed though). I would have been a little surprised if they took crickets.

If you have never sexed a snake, baby snakes is not the place to learn how to probe them, and you really need someone to show you how to safely "pop" them.

The size and color difference could be from a number of things (mostly genetic). Size differences in animals out of the egg and shortly after can be fairly dramatic. It is however, not a sex difference (sex is the appropriate word, gender is subjective and based on a scale of more masculine or feminine).

As for them constricting each other, it is a possibility. Rat snakes usually have fairly good appetites. If they are well fed and the feedings are done in a controlled manner where they are separated and clean from scents of rodent when reintroduced, your risk is lower. However, it still exists. Ideally, housing them separately would eliminate these risks. But this is your choice.

Letting them go or keeping them is going to be a dice roll as to which would be better. There is no way to tell if the released snake(s) would be fine, or if they even would have survived in the wild to begin with. Usually it is best to leave animals alone, but you have created another small variable disrupting their chance of survival be acclimating them to captivity. With reptiles, they usually acclimate quicker and better than mammals, so they would probably be fine if let go, but we honestly don’t know this for sure.

I would say if you have learned something about nature and snakes having done this, keep them and continue to learn. You will have a better understanding that is certain on their survival if you keep them. Next time, leave well enough alone if there is not going to be some kind of mutual benefit.

Hope this helps.

05/29/10  08:58am


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  Message To: SoLA   In reference to Message Id: 2151312

 Baby Rat Snakes

Get some pics up to help with identification.

07/05/10  09:32am

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