Click here for LLL Reptile & Supply
Your Text Ad Here! Only 41¢ a day!
click here for details
Locate a business by name: click to list your business
search the classifieds. buy an account
reptile events by zip code list an event
News & Events: Herp Video of the week: Snakes are just born that way . . . . . . . . . .  Hog-nosed snake with a side of southern hospitality . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiDay Melbourne - July 04, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiDay Chattanooga - July 04, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  Jacksonville Herp Society Meeting - July 04, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  Madison Area Herp Society Meeting - July 10, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiDay Fort Lauderdale - July 11, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  Repticon Memphis - July 11-12, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  All Maryland Reptile Show - July 11, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  St. Louis Herp Society Meeting - July 12, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  NY Metro Reptile Expo - July 12, 2015 . . . . . . . . . .  New England Herp Society Meeting - July 12, 2015 . . . . . . . . . . 
follow us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on YouTube link to us on LinkedIn

click to return to index

Click here for Rainbow Bearded Dragons
full banner - advertise here $.50/1000 views year
click here for Sunshine Chameleons
pool banner - $25 year
xeno1.jpg (13821 bytes)

Captive Husbandry of the Sunbeam Snake (Xenopeltis unicolor)
by Petra Spiess

The sunbeam snake (Xenopeltis unicolor) is native to Indonesia and is often encountered in rice paddies. This species garners its common name from the incredible iridescence of its scales, a trait difficult to capture on film. The ground color of the snake's dorsal side is a dark brown, almost black, with the ventral side being a white or cream color. In the sunlight, or under strong artificial light, the scales scatter the illumination like a prism, showcasing a breathtaking display of rainbow coloration. There is no snake in the world that can rival the iridescent of the sunbeam snake, this species most enchanting feature. In the wild these snakes are totally fossorial (burrowing) and spend most of their time underground. Their morphology strongly reflects this lifestyle, as their heads are sharply pointed with little neck delineation, enabling them to move underground with ease. In the wild, sunbeam snakes eat a variety of prey including amphibians, lizards, small mammals, and other snakes. Young sunbeam snakes look very similar to the adults, except that they have a strong white "collar" of white scales evident just below the head. This coloration fades within the first year.

Sunbeam snakes are not often captive bred, so they are heavily imported. This is rather unfortunate as most imported animals die within the first six months of capture. Wild-caught sunbeam snakes stress very easily, this combined with improper environmental conditions encountered during transport and holding at wholesale facilities, is just too much for many of these snakes. However, animals that survive importation can acclimate well if properly housed and attended to by a good reptile vet.

Captive Care Requirements

There are really only four things required to keep sunbeams snakes successfully, humidity, a burrowing medium, proper temperatures, and solitude. Sunbeam snakes hail from an extremely humid habitat (ever seen a rice paddy?-rice grows in wetland conditions), as such, they require very high humidity in captivity in order to do well. I keep my sunbeams at about 80-100% humidity all of the time. Many sunbeams snakes develop a condition that looks like blistering on their scales, this looks similar to a disease caused by excessive humidity-it is not. I am sure that many people, upon seeing this condition in sunbeams have thought that drying the snakes out would cure this problem, drying sunbeam snakes out kills them quickly. This is a bacterial infection exacerbated by stress and will disappear with correct antibiotic treatment and a humid environment.

Secondly, as sunbeams have evolved to be fossorial animals, they need a substrate in the cage to burrow in. I use 6-8 inches of cypress mulch, but other substrates such as moss or small reptile bark would work just as well. I keep the cypress mulch very moist, but not wet. The hot end of the cage is 86-88 degrees F and the cool end is 75-80 degrees F. All of the sunbeams I have kept have readily accepted stunned rodents from tongs. These snakes have an incredible feeding response so watch your fingers! Sunbeams snakes constrict their prey like other snakes, but I swear they are the fastest eaters I have ever seen, no other species can even compare to the speed at which sunbeams subdue and swallow prey. This may be because they are vulnerable when they are above-ground (where they must be to find prey and eat) so the faster eating snakes were exposed to less predation and passed on their genes to future generations (bear with me, I am a graduate student in ecology-I can't help it). One thing that new owners should be warned about-these snakes have a NASTY musk, and I mean nasty. If you get musked by an irate sunbeam, plan on taking a shower and washing the clothes you were wearing about five times. As sunbeams stress easily, do not handle them unless it is absolutely necessary. So success with sunbeams amounts to four things; keep them humid, buried, warm, and leave them alone.

I have kept a colony of 15 sunbeam snakes successfully with no losses in this manner for 4 years. However, even under ideal conditions, sunbeam snakes (especially recent purchases) may still die. I keep these snakes in an effort to develop a successful captive breeding program, which will hopefully reduce the amount of animals taken from the wild. We did produce sunbeams in 1997, but have had no luck since.

Sponsored Link

Click here for LLL Reptile & Supply
advertise here

Herp Events

Reptile and amphibian expos, symposiums, zoo and museum exhibitions and other educational events are great places to ask questions, get answers and network with other herp keepers.
Upcoming Reptile and Amphibian Events:
Submit a non-profit event - Purchase a commercial listing


Looking for a reptile or amphibian related business? A reptile store, breeder, importer, maunfacturer or supplier? Our business directory lists some of the most popluar herp businesses in the world.
Locate a reptile or amphibian business by name:
 - Reptile Rapture
 - Backwater Reptiles
 - Dubi Deli
 - Steel City Reptile Expo
 - Reptilinks Whole Prey
 - Xtreme Exotics
 - Northern Rodents
 - Wicked Leos
 - Underground Reptiles
 - Eden Reptiles
 - ECO WEAR & Publishing
 - Wicked Pythons
 - Backwater Reptiles
 - Eublah Exotics
 - Henry Piorun Reptiles
 - South Texas Dragons
list your business on

Video Gallery

Check out these reptile and amphibian submitted by staff, volunteers, and users of the community. Our system supports videos hosted on YouTube. If you have a favorite YouTube video, please submit it here.

more videos       submit a video

Site Tools

Manage - manage your user and advertising accounts
Register For A User Account Click Here
Manage Your User Profile Click Here
Reset Your Password Click Here
Change Your Email Click Here
Manage Your Banner Account/View Stats Click Here
Manage Your Business Directory Listing Click Here
Mark Your Business Directory Listing As Updated Click Here
Manage Your Classified Account Click Here
Post A Classified Advertisement Click Here
Remove A Classified Advertisement Click Here
Purchase - advertising and services purchase quick links
Purchase a classified account$20.00-$85.00Click Here
Renew a classified account$20.00-$85.00Click Here
Upgrade to an enhanced classified$ variesClick Here
Purchase a business directory listing$150 a yearClick Here
Purchase a banner advertisement$ variesClick Here
Purchase a standard event listing$100 a listingClick Here
Pay an open invoice Click Here
Contact the sales department Click Here
Support - help, tips, & resources quick links
Classified Account Terms Of Service Click Here
Classified Help Click Here
Classified Tips Click Here
Classified Complaints Click Here
Banner Ad Help Click Here
DBA Search Click Here
Business Name Registration Verification Click Here
Are you registered? To advertise here using a business name you must have your legal business name registration verified. Click here for details on the program or to register your business FREE!


Sites by Inc:
Pets: Reptiles & Amphibians | Insects & Arachnids | Birds | Cats | Dogs | Small Pets | Horse & Farm | Fish & Aquaria | Ponds | Connected By Pets | NRAAC.ORG

Also: | | | Connected By Cars | | Lizardkeepers | AprilFirstBioEngineering
Guns: | | |              Music: club kingsnake | live stage magazine

powered by
click here for The Bean Farm
pool banner - advertise here $50 year
click here for the Phoenix Reptile Expo
pool banner - $30 year
click here for Helix Controls
pool banner - $25 year® is a registered trademark of, Inc.© 1997-
    - this site optimized for 1024x768 resolution -