Elaphe climacophora is a semi arboreal species of the colubrid family that are active during the day. The colour of the wild type is highly variable from quite dull olive to bright greens with flashes of yellows with some individuals being grey or even blue.

Some individuals are docile and handleable, whilst others remain nervous and defensive, biting and musking whenever you remove them from the cage. Despite their beautiful colors, active nature and fairly chill temperament, Elaphe climacophora are still rarely seen in trade.

  • Scientific name : Elaphe climacophora
  • Distribution : Japan, Kunashir
  • Average Size : 1.5 m (5 ft)
  • Life Span : 15 years or more
  • Difficulty : Intermediate


We believe that as a really active species, they need big terrariums/vivariums. Hatchlings can be kept in small tubs or racks as they are rather shy and defensive (too big enclosure can stress them). You want to make it really escape proof, as they are fairly strong even as babies.
For adult pair you want at least 1.5 x 0.6 x 0.6 meters (5 x 2 x 2 feet), but the bigger the better. As a semi-arboreal snakes they do well in vertical cages too, as they love to climb and will use all the space that you can provide. Climbing branches are a must with this species, and changing the decor once in a while is great idea as it provides the means to explore “new” places.
Japanese Rats are one of the species that can be kept in harems, or in groups of females. However keep in mind that it’s a controversial topic, so you should research about it before deciding if you want to keep your snakes together.

Hide box

Although these snakes are very inquisitive they need a suitable hide box. We provide at least two hides in each end of the enclosure, you can use boxes, flower pots (when they are young), a hollow tree trunk, anything that will be big enough for your snake. We prefer naturalistic looking vivariums, so we use tree trunks and fake plants for foliage.


Hatchlings are best kept on a paper towels as it’s easier to monitor their health on it. For juveniles and adults the two most popular substrates are shredded aspen bedding or coco-coir. They sometimes like to burrow and both these substrates allow them to do it. Coco-coir is best kept a little damp on the surface.

Lighting – Heating

Elaphe climacophora will benefit from having a full spectrum fluorescent tube on 12h cycle and will often bask under it. It will also help develop them their true colors, so we really recommend using one!
The temperature should be between 25°C(77°F) and 28°C (82°F). Providing a hot spot with 28°C (82°F) is needed for snakes to properly digest their food. Summer heat, even around 35°C (95°F) is not dangerous for these snakes too.


They will sometimes swim given the opportunity, so you would like to provide a water bowl large enough for them to fit the whole body. We always try to arrange the water area big enough to allow swimming. You can use normal tap water, and remember to change it frequently.


We really don’t measure humidity, the room humidity and large water bowl are sufficient. Most of the care sheets recommend humidity to be around 60%. Spraying the whole enclosure once in a few days helps to keep them well hydrated.


They eat rodents, lizards, frogs, birds and birds’ eggs. We feed our snakes frozen/thawed rodents, and the treat being quail eggs once in a month or fewer. Hatchlings should eat once in every 3-4 days, as they are growing really fast, and adults once every 14 days. Adults do well on one medium rat or two adult mice, but most prefer multiple but smaller prey items.
In winter months they often stop eating as they want to brumate.


As hatchlings they are rather shy and defensive. With frequent handling they will calm down, but you should be ready for a few baby bites and musking during the first few handlings. In the same time they are also very inquisitive, will always come to see what that scary monster is doing in their vivs/tubs. While growing up most of them realize you are nothing scary, but some will be nervous their whole lives. It all depends on the individual character of the snake, but even the most defensive snakes can be tamed to some extent with regular handling.


These snakes are having fast metabolism, so be ready to clean often. We spot clean every time we see the need for it (after every feeding at least once), and when the enclosure starts to look messy we are doing the big cleaning with changing the whole substrate, cleaning the walls etc.


You really don’t need to do anything special for them to shed properly. Water bowl large enough to allow soaking is all they need to shed perfectly.

Potential Health Problems

These snakes are rather hardy, the only problems we encountered were mites and going off food. For breeding females there is also risk of become egg-bound. Snakes kept in very poor conditions can develop mouth rot, scale rot or respiratory infection, but with this species it’s really hard to achieve. During winter be ready that they may go off food for a few months as they want to brumate!


Sylphie's Reptiles

The information contained in this care sheet reflect the opinions and methods of the mentioned breeder, based on their expertise and long-established experience.