King Ratsnake

Image Credit : AC Snakes – UK

Elaphe carinata is a big, beautiful non-venomous snake which is easy to keep and breed. They are heavily keeled and have big eyes with a round to vertically oval pupil, it seems like they are looking sternly. Most animals are grey-brown-black with yellow.

The name ‘stinking Goddess’ refers to their well-developed post-anal glands. When you pick them up, those can be emptied with a very bad, strong odor. There are 2 subspecies, E.c.carinata and E.c.yonaguniensis.

  • Scientific name : Elaphe carinata
  • Distribution : North Vietnam, Taiwan, China, Japan
  • Average Size : 1.7 m (5.5 ft)
  • Life Span : 15 years or more
  • Difficulty : Intermediate


I keep my adult Elaphe carinata in a 1.4 meters long, 0.6 meters deep and 0.6 meters high (4.6 x 2 x 2 feet) terrarium. I place a hollow log with some fake foliage in the enclosure so the snakes will feel more secure and I can see that they are utilizing the height of the log going over and under it.

Hide box

They don’t have a hide box, but they have some branches and stumps to crawl over and hide. It’s a good practice though to keep hide boxes big enough for the snakes to get it and feel secure on both ends of the enclosure.


Mostly I use cocopeat as substrate, but other substrates (aspen, bark) can also be used. Cocopeat is a good solution for most snakes, because it absorbs a lot of water and urine.

Lighting – Heating

It is recommended to provide a natural light pattern that mimics normal daytime according to the season.
They don’t like it too hot. That’s normal, if you know where they’re living in nature. I keep them between 20-22 °C (68-72 °F) at night and 26-28 °C (79-82 °F) during the day. I just use a light bulb to heat their terrarium. When it’s too hot in my snake room, I screw the bulb out…old fashioned.
Every year I give them a 2-3 month hibernation period at 10-15 °C (50-60 °F), each separately in a big curver box. I always stop feeding in October. Then I drop the temperature slowly for some weeks, to avoid the temperature shock is too big. That’s because they need to digest the food that’s in their body. After their hibernation period I slowly increase the temperature.


They always have a clean water bowl in their terrarium.


I do nothing special to increase or decrease the humidity. Humidity in my snake room is around 60-80%.


They are eating a lot of different preys. Mostly I give them rodents like mice and rats. But you can also give them eggs, fish, chicks. Take care with them, because they also eat snakes. If you have a pair or more animals and they have about the same size I believe it’s not a big problem, unless you don’t feed them enough. But never say never, so take care with putting them together. To feed them it’s better to put them apart, because that will avoid they bite or try to eat each other. When I put them back together after feeding, I’m always spraying with some water on them to avoid they see each other as a prey.


Wild caught animals can be very aggressive. Most captive bred animals aren’t that aggressive, but always handle them gently because they are food targeted and can see your hand as a prey. My animals have been about 2 years in a terrarium in my living room, they became really tame. Now they’re back again in my snake room, and they became more shy again. As I’m keeping snakes for a lot of years, I know how to handle them and they almost never have bitten me.


They have a high metabolism. Soon after they have eaten, they poop several times. I just take it away with the substrate that’s laying around, then it stays clean. When I see or smell it’s necessary to clean the whole cage, I do that.


When they have to shed, I’m spraying regularly on them and in the terrarium. More is not necessary.

Potential Health Problems

It’s always necessary to follow the basic rules of herpetology. Under normal conditions these snakes don’t have a lot of problems.


FD Serpenti

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