Elaphe schrenckii

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Elaphe schrenckii
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Elaphe
Species: E. schrenckii
Binomial name
Elaphe schrenckii
(Strauch, 1873)
  • Elaphis Schrenckii
    Strauch, 1873
  • Coluber schrenckii
    Boulenger, 1894: 48
  • Coluber virgatus
    Boettger, 1898: 51
    (fide Stejneger, 1907)
  • Elaphe schrenckii
    — Stejneger, 1907: 313
  • Elaphe schrenckii schrenckii
    Pope, 1935
  • Elaphe schrenckii
    Schulz, 1996: 235
  • Elaphe schrenckii
    Utiger et al., 2002
  • Elaphe schrenki [sic]
    Burbrink & Lawson, 2007
    (in error)
  • Elaphe shrenki [sic]
    Burbrink & Lawson, 2007
    (in error)
  • Elaphe schrenckii
    Wallach et al., 2014

Elaphe schrenckii is a nonvenomous colubrid snake species, which is endemic to Northeast Asia (China, Korea, Russia, Mongolia). Elaphe schrenckii is a relatively large colubrid, but due to its lack of colour and beauty, and despite its gentle temperament, it is not a very popular snake for keepers.

Common names[edit]

Common names for E. schrenckii include Amur rat snake, Manchurian black racer, Manchurian black water snake, Russian rat snake, Schrenck's rat snake, and Siberian rat snake. As one common name, Manchurian black water snake, suggests, E. schrenckii is an excellent swimmer, and it is also an excellent climber. The common name, Russian rat snake, is misleading as only a small portion of the geographic range of E. schrenckii is in Russia.


Elaphe schrenckii is NOT to be confused with the very similar Korean rat snake, Elaphe anomala, which was once thought to be a subspecies of E. schrenckii, and was known for a time by the synonym Elaphe schrenckii anomala.


The specific name, schrenckii, is in honor of zoologist Leopold von Schrenck.[2]


Adult Size: 140–180 cm. The northern, darker, most common variety is known to be more fearless, inquisitive & personable than its southern cousin, which is somewhat more nervous & shy.

Natural History[edit]

As the name suggests, this species inhabits fairly moist biotopes. Forest clearings, scrub, farmland, hiding amongst cavities in trees, piles of stone or wood, and when threatened can flee up a tree or into the water. E. schrencki has been noted up to 6m high in trees. This species lives in regions with altitudes up to 2000m. In the wild the diet of Elaphe schrenckii


It is one variety of rat snake, feeding primarily on small mammals, birds & bird eggs. It is often found in wetlands, but also found in a wide variety of mainly moist environments such as scrub land, farmland, river banks, swamp land, gardens, stones, log piles, forests and up in trees. The Manchurian Black Water Snake is a very good climber, found as high up in trees as 6 meters. Feeding on Rodents, Birds and their Eggs, Bats.

Scale Count[edit]

Ventrals: 200-236 Subcaudals: 55-78 Dorsals: 21-23

Known mutations: albino, melanistic, striped, anerythristic. The first melanistic Russian ratsnakes go back approximately 25 years, these were in the collection of a Polish Zoo in Płock. A breeder from Warsaw acquired some of their stock some 20 years back and has been working with them ever since. He bred his animals to normal looking E. schrencki making heterozygote animals. Some of these were sold, the guy who brought them bred them together producing some melanistic in the clutch, proving it to be a simple recessive genetic trait. It is not known if the striped trait is genetic, but several specimens exhibiting various amounts of striping have been known.

Conservation Status[edit]

IUCN Red List: Not Listed. China Species Red List: Vulnerable VU A2a. Manchurian black water snakes are an officially a protected species in Russia and South Korea.


  1. ^ "Elaphe schrenckii ". The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  2. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael; Grayson, Michael (2011). The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Elaphe schrenckii, p. 238).

Further reading[edit]

  • Boulenger GA (1894). Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xi + 382 pp. + Plates I-XX. (Coluber schrenckii, pp. 48–49).
  • Strauch A (1873). "Die Schlangen des russischen Reichs, in systematischer und zoogeographischer Beziehung ". Mémoires de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, Series 7, 21 (4): 1-288. (Elaphis schrenckii, new species, pp. 100–103). (in German and Latin).


External links[edit]