Elaphe schrenckii

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Elaphe schrenckii
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Elaphe
Species: E. schrenckii
Binomial name
Elaphe schrenckii
(Strauch, 1873)
  • Elaphis Schrenckii - Strauch 1873
  • Coluber schrenkii - 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 - Burbrink & Lawson 2007 (in error)
  • Elaphe shrenki - Burbrink & Lawson 2007 (in error)

Elaphe schrenkii is a nonvenomous Colubridae (Colubrid) species found around North East Asia (China, Korea, Russia, Mongolia). This a relatively large colubrid, but due to its lack of colour and beauty and despite its gentle temperament is not a very popular snake for keepers. It is known as the Amur rat snake, Siberian rat snake, Russian rat snake, or Manchurian black water snake. As the name suggest they are excellent swimmers and they are also excellent climbers. The name comes from Manchuria the region of Asia in which the snake is found. Although very similar Elaphe schrenckii is not to be confused with Korean rat snake, Elaphe anomala which was once thought to be a sub species and came under the synonym Elaphe schrenkii anomala.


Adult Size: 140–180 cm. Often named the Russian rat snake although this is misleading as only a small portion of the snakes range is in Russia. 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: 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.


External links[edit]