Phrynonax Poecilinotus

I first saw these snakes at my buddys house. He had just recently acquired them from a breeder in Costa Rica. They were juveniles and hadnt colored up yet, I wasnt impressed. Fast forward a few years and they had transformed into these amazing looking animals. I bought them from him without a clue of how to keep them or even really what they were. My total experience with this species is limited to this pair of snakes and their offspring. For this reason, I will proclaim that I am no expert. What I can tell you though, is these are some really cool snakes. Large, heavy-bodied snakes, with a beautiful variety of color schemes. They are similar in size to a bullsnake. Mine are 7 feet, and very girthy. When I first got them, I assumed they were similar to indigo snakes. That was not the case. They arent as active as indigos. I dont find the cage furnishings "rearranged", and their food intake, and susequent output is much less than indigos. They dont just tear aroud the cage, they are very slow and deliberate.

I initially kept my poecilinotus in a rack system with undertank heat, the same rack, with the same heat tape and dimmer that I keep alterna, and rosy boas in. These were housed in larger tubs, 3x2x1 with one 3 inch flexwatt heat panel onder the tub. My room is between 65-75 degrees from march through November. During that period the single heat panel was set to keep a hotspot at 95 degrees. The ambient air temp of the cage fluctuated with the temp of the room, but it was usually 5 or six degrees warmer inside. To be real honest, Im pretty lax about the ambient air temp regimen. The hotspot allows them to warm up if needed. So, like I said, I keep these essentailly the same way I keep all my temperate colubrids, the only difference is these stay up for the winter. I use 2 additional heat panels in the winter when temps in my room drop into the 50s. The internal ambient air temp in the cage is in the 70s. in order to keep the air temp that warm the floor of the cage is very warm, in some spots too warm for the snake. I use large cardboard boxes as hides, which also act as arbpreal perches, allowing the snakes to avoid the hot floor. They can go inside the boxes on the coldest night if needed, but I rarely see them there. Generally I find them pressed against the coldest wall of the cage, signaling that the cage is too warm. If I see that, I turn down the dimmer. I kind of just try to feel out the preferred temp. I do however keep a couple thermometers in the tubs. I keep one on the cool side, and one on the hot, but Im mostly concerned with the cool side not getting below 65ish. I also use tupperware containers filled with sphagnum moss as moist hides. My male never used his so I removed it, but the female loves hers. When I see the male go blue, I spray him down frequently so his shed comes off properly. Water is provided at all times and that is a necessity as these snakes like to drink alot. Ive used many types of substrates, all of which have worked well. I generally just use aspen. Lighting is not necessary.

Recently I've put my poecilinotus in 4x4x2 arboreal cages. These snakes are large arboreal snakes and they are interesting to observe. Also, the wood cages I built allow me to control air temps better. It was necessary to use these larger cages but being 7 foot snakes, I felt it was a little better for them to get to stretch out. I use radiant heat panels on the ceiling of the cage, and multiple perches at different distances from the panel. In the winter Im using a heat pad on the floor as well, but may turn that off in the summer.

Feeding is a bit different for these snakes. The babies tend to want to be held in your hand and tease-fed. They usually take ft pinks, but Ive had a couple want house geckos. Some will eat stuff without being teased. They grow out of this with time, and eventually end up eating the more traditional way. My adults get 50% mice, 25% chicken eggs, and 25% chicks.

Breeding is pretty easy. Mine breed in July through October. They lay multiple clutches of 7-14 eggs. Oviposition and incubation is similar to all colubrids except it seems that the eggs are sensitive to warm temps. Ive had many dead in egg, fully formed babies. I believe the cause of this is allowing the eggs to get above 80. Another oddity is the incubation period. Ive had some hatch at 70 days and others at 110, despite the temp being nearly the same..

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