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The sunbeam snake is a beautiful snake species that is loved by people due to its iridescent scales that are black or brown in color. Whenever these species are hit by the sunlight, there is a formation f a rainbow dancing across their skin.   This snake species can be very tempting to every person looking for a snake pet due to its attractive looks. However, this species has a high mortality rate, and this explains why they are not an ideal choice for beginners. Also, they have very strict needs for the habitat and husbandry requirements, and this can be a challenge for a beginner.

This species is an ideal choice for experienced or expert keeps who are willing to put in the effort to construct a suitable enclosure. The sunbeam snakes belong to the family Xenopeltidae. This is one of the primitive species, and this implies that they cannot be changed or evolved from their ancestors. The Sunbeam snakes look very similar to the Mexican Burrowing snake.

The Sunbeam snakes originate from South East Asia, India, and some areas of Indonesia. They prefer living in moist areas with low temperatures. All you need to do is do thorough research before keeping them, and the process of taking care of them will not be difficult. However, as a keeper, you need to have every detail of the needs of this species, and with that, you can be able to take care of them.

This species loves to spend a lot of time underground, and this is one of the major factors you need to put into consideration before setting up the enclosure. The process of taking care of those species might seem to be hard, but all you need is to have dedication. If you put in the necessary effort, the whole experience will be rewarding. This guide seeks to give you all the necessary information about taking care of this snake species, and if you follow every detail, you are assured of a healthy and happy sunbeam snake.


The Sunbeam Snake has a very brilliant appearance with slightly flattened bodies with a wedge-shaped head that helps them in digging. Their body and head are of the same width, and therefore it is not obvious where their body begins. This species has two different subspecies, the Hainan and the common, but there is no physical difference in appearance between these two.

This snake species has an iridescent black or dark brown scale on the upper part of the body with a pale yellow, white or cream-colored belly. Often the younger species usually have a white ring around their neck, but with time this fade. Since this species is burrowing, they have small bodies and eyes, which are made for moving around underground in burrows. In terms of size, this species reaches an average length of two to three feet, but there are some reports of some attaining up to 4 feet. There is no significant difference between males and females.

The only means of telling the difference between a male and a female sunbeam snake is by probing. This is where a professional stakes a small instrument and inserts it into the snake’s vent to detect the presence of the snake’s male sexual organs.


The average size of a Sunbeam snake is between 3 to 3.5 inches in length. It is in rare instances that you will find some species getting close to four feet. This species is considered to be a moderately sized snake. This species is quite skinny, and at the widest, they have an average diameter of a quarter afoot.


 The Sunbeam snakes originate from South East Asia and parts of China. They are fully terrestrial and they prefer living in lowland to lower montane wild, disturbed habitat, and scrubland. On the local scale, this species prefers wet, boggy, or swampy ground where they adhere to a burrowing routine. In the woods, this snake species usually prefer living in swampy areas like the rice paddies.

The sunbeam snakes are excellently adapted to live in damp climates. If you wish to keep this species as a pet, then the environment should be moist. Whenever they are hunting for rodents, frogs, and other small reptiles, they usually burrow in the mud and soil.


There is little information about the lifespan of this snake species. In captivity, the average lifespan of this species is nine years, but they can outlive this up to 12 years. This is a decent lifespan that will granny the owner enough time to enjoy and enjoy the bond with his or her pet.

Some of the keepers believe that their lifespan is shortened by the fact that they are living in captivity, while others believe it is a product of importation. Irrespective of which is true, this species needs to be provided with quality living standards, and without this, the lifespan will shorten significantly.


The sunbeam snakes are non-venomous and remain most of their time hiding underground in the borrows. This species uses its wedge-shaped heads to push through litter, leaves, and loose soil. This species is capable o digging burrows, but they prefer using those that have been dug by others and left behind. The only time this species will come out of the burrow is when they need to hunt and at. They are generally solitary and secretive snakes that love privacy.

 They are not aggressive, but they do not love being handled

. Frequent handling of this snake might make them get stressed and disturbed. It is therefore advisable to ensure that you touch this species minimally and leave them to be on them as much as possible. They are also timid that they love being lest on their own. They mostly feel stressed out whenever they are picked up. However, whenever they are picked to clean the enclosure or for other reasons, they are not aggressive. Just like any other snake, there should be no problem in handling them.

Whenever the Sunbeam Snake is worried, they usually excrete a foul musk, and this is one thing that you need to keep in mind. This, therefore, means that unlike you love showering, you should avoid poking, prodding, and holding your pet. You should not do anything that might make this species feel threatened. Avoid handling them, and you can only do so once or twice a week. This species is mild-tempered, and they will rarely bite, but whenever they feel threatened, they might bite to defend themselves.

Generally, this species is shy, and they do not like being handled; however, these changes with time with regular and proper handling. Whenever they are around strangers, this species does not show any sign of distress since they are friendly and calm. This species is more active during the evening, and this is when they come out of the burrows to hunt. They usually move fast with their heads pressed against the ground while letting their tongues repeatedly flick to pick up the scent of any animal in the air.

 Whenever this species feels they are under threat, they will shake their tail just like the rattlesnakes do. This species does not have rattles, and therefore their tail usually moves silently. This snake usually emits a foul oozing from its vent section whenever the predators are around. Whenever they are touched by the predator, they usually stiffen their bodies and jerk about madly. This act does not pose any danger to the predator, but it scares them away.


As a snake keeper or an aspiring, you might have heard different things about the care of the Sunbeam snakes, but all in all, it is not a challenging thing as long as you follow the correct guidelines. This snake has some unique needs that might seem a little unusual for someone who is used to the standard requirements of the other snake species. But this will be made easier by the guidelines that have been discussed in this guide.

Another fun aspect of owning any pet, aside from picking the pet’s name, is the setting up of the enclosure.   From getting creative with decorations and accessories to establishing the right enclosure for your pet’s humidity and temperature gradient to creating the ideal enclosure, This whole experience is fun and rewarding. Of curse, you will also learn that the sunbeam snakes’ enclosure requirements are where its peculiarities stand out.


Due to their size, the Sunbeam Snakes do not need a big enclosure. The minimum size of the enclosure should be approximately 20 by 10 in size. This is equal to the 32-quart plastic tub or a ten gallons tank. This does not, however, mean that this is the limit; as with any species, a bigger home is always better as long as the space is used efficiently. Most snakes do not prefer having a large spacious enclosure since it leaves them feeling vulnerable, and therefore in a way, a smaller one is better. The height of the enclosure is not a big deal since this species is not known for climbing Walla.


If you have a shy, reclusive species, the ideal enclosure should be the plastic tubs. They are also important in helping you to maintain high levels of humidity, which is important for this species.

There are also some clear enclosures, such as glass and acrylic, which can also work but lack privacy. Suppose you have a species that seems stressed by exposure. You can always cover some or all sides with dark-colored construction paper or fabric. The other disadvantage of these types of enclosures is that the screen lid will make it hard to keep the humidity high. This can be resolved by covering the screen with something sold like plastic, wood, or glass.

The Sunbeam snakes are not the ideal occupants of the fanciful display terrariums because they are fossorial and easily stressed. That is unless you want to showcase the decorations rather than the pet itself.

 If you want to maintain the high humidity and offer some more privacy than the traditional aquarium, then the ideal choice for the enclosure is the custom wood and plastic enclosure. However

 these enclosures are often cost-prohibitive.


The Sunbeam Snakes love some bottom heat and this is supplied by a heater that is put under the substrate, heating pad, heat rope, or heat tape that covers one-third to one-half of the enclosure’s length. The heating element needs to be powered by a thermostat to ensure that it does not get too hot. This is because the heat emitters and lamps will dry out the air and substrate.

The average temperature that is ideal for this species should be between 70 to 75 degrees F. In both th warm and cold ends of the enclosure, ensure that you pace a thermometer so as to keep monitoring the temperature. This species is not tolerant to the usual high heat requirements f the tropical snake species.


The Sunbeam snakes need high humidity in their enclosure. In their natural habitat, they live in mucky wet rice paddies, and this needs to be replicated in captivity.  If you do not provide enough humidity, this will lead to poor shedding and some respiratory problems and undue stress to your pet. The enclosure should have a humidity of approximately 75 to 100 percent. Also, you should keep the substrate on the warm side, a bit moist and occasionally swamp-like. This helps release humidity into the air, and this mimics the natural environment. The enclosure should also have an area of drier substrate where they can retreat to whenever they desire to, and this will leave your pet happy.


You should consider adding a water bowl to your enclosure. It is rare to find the snakes drinking water, but they do when there is no one around. This is mainly for this kind of snake that is tin id. You should provide clean, fresh water every day in a bowl. The water should be removed and replaced each day since it easily gets dirty and contaminated. The water bowl should be large enough for your pet since they love bathing for a while. Ensure the bowl is wide enough and will not flid when the pet tries to get in.


The Sunbeam Snake needs some substrate in its enclosure, and the best choice for the substrate is the coconut coir which is also referred to as coconut fiber. This can be bought loose or in compressed bricks in order to save money. The blocks need to be soaked in water to break apart. Before adding the substrate to the sunbeam’s habitat, ensure that you squeeze out the excess water.

 The coconut-like substrate is the soil, and it gives you room to create an environment that is swampy and wet that will keep the enclosure humid This also allows the snake to burrow, which is imperative to keep this species healthy and happy. Below are some of the other materials that can be used or mixed with the coconut cor;

  • Potting soil
  • Moss
  • Sand
  • Cypress mulch


The Sunbeam Snakes do not require a lot of accessories and decorations since they spend most of their time in underground burrows. If you like the appearance, you can add a branch. You should not expect your snake pet to become an arboreal suddenly. This is because they can cave in on the burrows and tunnels and might end up crushing your sunbeam snake. The water bowl should be deep and wide enough for your pet to thoroughly soak in, but it should not be deep that it can not escape or might drown.

It is advisable to leave your sunbeam snake alone but always keep checking the water every day or after two days in case it is soiled with substrate or feces.


The sunbeam snakes spend most of their time in the burrows underground, and this implies that they do not need much light kike the UVB light for the reptiles. You can use day/night kits or something similar for lighting the cage for 2 hours each day to give a day and night cycle. The lighting is also important since it makes cleaning proc less easy since you can see and access it.


The sunbeam snakes get moisture from different sources within the environment that surround them. It is, however, recommended that you provide them with a shallow water dish. This dis should be wide enough for the snake to get in since they often use it for soaking. You might even find them drinking as they take a dip. The dish should be cleaned regularly, and you should also ensure that it always has some fresh water in it. By not following this, it might lead to bacterial build-up and a whole slew of unpleasant diseases.


 Generally, the Sunbeam snakes do not bite, and even if they tried, their jaws and teeth are somewhat small for their size, and therefore, they may not be able to even break the human skin. However, this species is capable of getting stressed out by overhandling. This specie dos not like getting handled so much. It is supposed to be kept more for a look and not for touch.

After you have introduced the pet to the new home and has taken enough time to get used to the new diet, and has started to eat regularly, you can now introduce handling to the et. The handling sessions should be kept short, approximately 15 minutes three times a week. This will enable them to get used to it without stressing them. If you find out that there is a behavior change in your snake when you start handling, you should cut the handling again or completely eliminate handling.

To create a bond between you and your snake, do it during the feeding time by watching it engage in its natural behaviors inside the enclosure.


The feeding behavior of this species may be a bit shocking in captivity. This is because it is so strong to a point it might even mistakes your fingers for a pinky. As such, be sure to exercise safe feeding practices such as sunning the feeding tongs. 

This species has smaller jaws compared to the other snakes of the same size. They are meant to feed on the soft, tiny amphibians around their wet natural home and the small; baby rodents hiding underground in the nest. Due to their string feeding response, the sunbeam snakes might be willing to accept frozen mice immediately. If you find out that your pet snake has already adapted for several weeks and still will not eat, you can scent its food using a frog or gecko.

The feeding frequency of this species changes with time as they age. The hatchlings are able to feed on pinky mice; subadults snakes can feed on fuzzy mice while the adults will feed on the hopper mice.


 The sunbeam snake feeds in different frequencies at different ages. The hatchlings should be fed every five to seven days, while subadults will eat every week. The subadult snake is a snake that measures approximately feet in length. The ideal body composition of this species as they approach maturity down the feeding frequency to every two weeks. Also, increase or decreases the rate if you find out that your prey gains too much weight. The approximate size of an adult since should be around 3 feet long.


There is little information available about the breeding of sunbeam snakes. However, there are some breeders who have successfully bred this species. Most of the sunbeam snakes are caught in the wild and then bred in captivity. This is not a big deal since the pet trade comes with little impact on the wild population. This species is oviparous, with every clutch consisting of between 3 to 17 eggs.


Every snake species usually sheds its skin from birth until adulthood. This often occurs when they are young. If you notice that the eyes of your pet have started becoming cloudy, you know that the pet is about to start shedding. Mainly the snakes can handle this process on their own. If you feel that your pet is not struggling with skin shedding, you can seek professional help from a professional breeder.


The Sunbeam Snakes are mainly imported, and this implies that they carry parasites and worms. The treatment is very important and should be given as soon as possible. After buying this snake species, before even taking it home, take it first to the nearest herp or exotic vet. Most of the sunbeam Snakes are usually covered with blisters all over their bodies since they are not well housed before being housed for sale. If you notice that your pet has some blisters, then ensure that you treat it with antibiotics.

As discussed earlier, this species loves wet and humid environments, but this kind of environment can be a challenge since it can be a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. This, therefore, means you need to be thorough when doing the cleaning of the enclosure. Ensure that you remove every fecal matter instantly. Also, the substrate replacement should have adhered to that after a few weeks.

 The coconut fiber substrate is the best for this species since it is capable of completely absorbing the odor and prevent the mold from spreading and breeding. Nonetheless, the humidity level should be consistently high for the snake’s health and comfort and do not forget to replace water.

Poot care for this species leads to some common health problems. They can end up becoming carriers of worms and mites that might cause a number of diseases. The following are some of the signs of a sick snake pet;

  • Blisters
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Labored breathing
  • Fluid discharge from mouth and nostrils


 Are Sunbeam snakes Friendly

No, the sunbeam snakes are not friendly since they are timid. They do not like being handled, but they are not aggressive.

Can Sunbeam Snakes Bite?

The sunbeam snakes are not likely to bite, although they might look fierce whenever they feel under threat. In most cases, timid snakes remain harmless.

Are the sunbeam Snakes venomous?

 No. The sunbeam snakes do not have venom or fangs. They can therefore be the ideal pets for the reptile keepers who are patient enough.


From the guide, we can conclude that the Sunbeam snakes care is not as difficult as some people think. As long as you have the right information and they will spend the necessary time to ensure that your snake is comfortable, everything will be fine.

The experience of owning one of the sunbeam snakes is great and incredibly rewarding. They will give you a stunning visual display on a daily basis, and they will really live up to the hype. It is worth a trial, and you will never regret it.

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