Japanese striped snake

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Japanese four-lined ratsnake
Elaphe quadrivirgata.JPG
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Genus: Elaphe
Species: E. quadrivirgata
Binomial name
Elaphe quadrivirgata
(H. Boie, 1826)

Elaphe quadrivirgata, commonly known as the Japanese four-lined ratsnake or the Japanese striped snake (Japanese: shimahebi = striped snake), is a species of non-venomous colubrid snake native to Japan.

Geographic range[edit]

It is found in all areas of Japan apart from the Ryukyu Islands.


It typically grows to a length of 1-1.5 m (40-60 in). The snake has a yellow or light brown ground color, and gets its scientific and common names from the four black lengthwise stripes sported by most individuals of the species. All-black variants exist; these are known in Japan as karasu-hebi (crow snakes).

Juveniles are reddish, and instead of lengthwise stripes have crosswise stripes and a spotted pattern similar to some venomous snakes. photo photo

The dorsal scales, which are weakly keeled in adults but may be smooth in juveniles, are arranged in 19 rows. The ventrals, which are angulate laterally, number 193-210. The anal scale is usually divided, and the subcaudals, which are also divided (paired), number 70-96.[2]


Elaphe quadrivirgata is an active, diurnal snake.


It feeds on a variety of prey items, including frogs, lizards, insects, rodents, as well as birds and their eggs.


  1. ^ The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
  2. ^ Boulenger, G.A. 1894. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume II., Containing the Conclusion of the Colubridæ Aglyphæ. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, Printers). London. xi + 382 pp. + Plates I.- XX. (Coluber quadrivirgatus, pp. 59-60.)

External links[edit]

  • [1] (in Japanese)

Further reading[edit]

  • Boie, H. 1826. Merkmale einiger japanischer Lurche. Isis von Oken 19: 203-216. (Coluber quadrivirgatus, pp. 209–210.)
  • Jan, G., & F. Sordelli. 1867. Iconographie général des Ophidiens: Vingt-quatrième livraison. Ballière. Paris. Index + Plates I.- VI. (Elaphis quadrivirgatus, Plate I., Figures 1-3.)
  • Stejneger, L. 1907. Herpetology of Japan and Adjacent Territory. United States National Museum Bulletin 58. Smithsonian Institution. Washington, District of Columbia. xx + 577 pp. (Elaphe quadrivirgata, pp. 327–333 + Plate XXI.)