Thai National Parks

Reptiles of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Long-tailed rat snake

Thai: งูกาบหมากถ้ำ, ngu gaap maag tham

Binomial name: Elaphe taeniura, Edward Drinker Cope, 1861

The beauty rat snake (Orthriophis taeniurus), also known as the beauty ratsnake, the beauty snake, or the cave racer, is a species of long, slender, semi-arboreal snake that is native to East and Southeast Asia. Several subspecies are recognized. Their average total length (including tail) is about 5 - 6 m, with an unofficial record of slightly under 10 m. Captive bred snakes can make very nice pets, but wild caught adults have been known to be quite temperamental even many years after capture.


The ground color of O. taeniurus is yellowish-brown to olive. The dorsal surface of the head and neck is unicolor. The markings on the back almost always consist of two pairs of black rounded spots, which join together. From each eye there is a dark stripe, which extends to the corners of the mouth. The upper labials are yellowish-white.


The temperature for hibernation is around 18 - 20 C F. Mating usually results about a month after hibernation period. Hatchlings are about 11+3/4 - 17+3/4 cm disp=flip in length and shed after about 14 days. Following shedding, pinkie mice should be fed immediately. They grow quickly and attain a length of 135 cm ftin after only 14 months. They are capable of reproduction after only 18 months.


Subspecies of this species include:

  • Chinese beauty rat snake (Orthriophis taeniurus taeniurus) - Native to China.
  • Cave-dwelling rat snake (Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi) - This snake is native to Thailand and Peninsular Malaysia, and as the name implies, often lives deep within caves where its diet consists mainly of bats. They have a yellow to beige background color that darkens to a grey-black towards the tail. A white to cream mid-dorsal stripe starts about half of the way down the body and continues to the tip of tail. Both sides of the head are marked just behind the eye with a black stripe surrounded by blue.
  • Mocquard's beauty rat snake (Orthriophis taeniurus mocquardi) - Native to southeastern China and northern Vietnam, as well as the island of Hainan.
  • Taiwan beauty rat snake (Orthriophis taeniurus friesei) - Native to Taiwan.
  • Vietnamese blue beauty (Orthriophis taeniurus callicyanous) - Native to Vietnam; frequently exported for the pet trade.
  • Orthriophis taeniurus grabowskyi - Native to Sumatra and the provinces of East Malaysia and Kalimantan on the island of Borneo.
  • Orthriophis taeniurus schmackeri - Native to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan.
  • Orthriophis taeniurus yunnanensis - Native to China, India, Laos, Myanmar, eastern Thailand and Vietnam.
  • Orthriophis taeniurus ssp. - Native to Burma, Thailand and Vietnam.

In Popular Culture

The 1988 Hong Kong film Thunder of Gigantic Serpent features a member of this species as Mozler, the titular monster. Much like the real life counterpart, Mozler is kept as a calm pet throughout much of the movie.


The beauty rat snake is an important species in the snake skin and live snake trade in China.

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Scientific classification

Elaphe taeniura

Common names

  • English:
    • Cave racer
    • Beauty snake
  • Thai:
    • งูกาบหมากถ้ำ, ngu gaap maag tham
    • งูกาบหมากดำ, ngu gaap maag damm (Ridley’s racer)
    • งูกาบหมากยูนนาน, ngu gaap maag Yunaan (Yunnan racer)


  • Elaphe taeniurus callicyanous, Klaus-Dieter Schulz, 2010

    Common name: Blue beauty rat snake, Vietnamese blue beauty

    Range: Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand

  • Elaphe taeniurus friesi, Werner, 1927

    Common name: Taiwan beauty snake, Taiwan beauty rat snake

    Range: Taiwan

  • Elaphe taeniurus grabowskyi, Johann Gustav Fischer, 1885

    Common name: Grabowsky's beauty snake

    Range: Indonesia & Malaysia

  • Elaphe taeniurus helfenbergeri, Klaus-Dieter Schulz, 2010

    Common name: Helfenberger's beauty snake

    Range: Myanmar, Thailand

  • Elaphe taeniurus mocquardi, Klaus-Dieter Schulz, 1996

    Common name: Mocquard's beauty rat snake

    Range: China, Vietnam.

  • Elaphe taeniurus ridleyi, A. Butler, 1899

    Common name: Cave-dwelling rat snake, Ridley’s racer

    Range: Malaysia, Singapore (?), South Thailand (Up to Kaeng Krachan National Park)

  • Elaphe taeniurus schmackeri, Oskar Boettger, 1895

    Common name: Sakishima beauty snake

    Range: Japan (Ryukyu Islands).

  • Elaphe taeniurus taeniurus, Edward Drinker Cope, 1861

    Common name: Chinese beauty snake

    Range: China

  • Elaphe taeniurus yunnanensis, John Anderson, 1879

    Common name: Yunnan beauty rat snake

    Range: China, India, Laos, Myanmar, Eastern/Northern Thailand and Vietnam.


  • Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi, Sacha (2015)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus callicyanous, Laita (2013)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus grabowskyi, Roberts & Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2012)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus schmackeri, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus mocquardi, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus helfenbergeri, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus grabowskyi, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus friesi, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus taeniurus, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus callicyanous, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus yunnanensis, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (2010)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus, G. O. U. Wogan et al. (2008)
  • Elaphe taeniura, Larry Lee Grismer et al. (2007)
  • Elaphe taeniura mocquardi, Switak (2006)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi, Wolfgang Grossmann & Frank Tillack (2005)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi, Wolfgang Grossmann & Frank Tillack (2004)
  • Elaphe taeniura schmackeri, Richard C Goris & Norio Maeda (2004)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus yunnanensis, Romulus Whitaker & Ashok Captain (2004)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus friesi, Andreas Gumprecht (2003)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus yunnanensis, Andreas Gumprecht (2003)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus, Urs Utiger et al. (2002)
  • Elaphe taeniura grabowskyi, Rudolf Malkmus et al. (2002)
  • Elaphe taeniura, Thomas Ziegler (2002)
  • Elaphe taeniura ridleyi, Wirot Nutphand (2001)
  • Elaphe taeniura friesi, Franz Tiedemann & Heinz Grillitsch (1999)
  • Elaphe taeniura ridleyi, Tanya Chan-Ard et al. (1999)
  • Elaphe taeniura yunnanensis, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Elaphe taeniura ridleyi, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Elaphe taeniura, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Elaphe taeniura, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (1996)
  • Elaphe taeniura mocquardi, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (1996)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus mocquardi, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (1996)
  • Elaphe taeniura ssp., Klaus-Dieter Schulz (1996)
  • Elaphe taeniura yunnanensis, Klaus-Dieter Schulz (1996)
  • Elaphe taeniura mocquardi x, Elaphe taeniura yunnanensis SCHULZ (1996)
  • Elaphe taeniura taeniura, Merel J. Cox (1991)
  • Elaphe taeniura grabowskyi, Ulrich Manthey (1983)
  • Elaphe taenura, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Denzer (1982)
  • Elaphe taenura sic grabowskii, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Denzer (1982)
  • Elaphe taeniura grabowskyi, Edward Harrison Taylor (1965)
  • Elaphe taeniura taeniura, Edward Harrison Taylor (1965)
  • Elaphe taeniura, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1943)
  • Coluber taeniurus pallidus, Carl Hialmar Rendahl (1937)
  • Elaphe taeniura yunnanensis, R. Mell (1931)
  • Elaphe taeniura grabowskyi, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1930)
  • Elaphe taeniura vaillanti, (François Mocquard) R. Mell (1929)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus friesi, Franz Werner (1927)
  • Coluber friesi, Franz Steindachner cited in Werner (1927)
  • Coluber taeniurus var. friesi, Franz Werner (1927)
  • Elaphe taeniura, Thomas Barbour (1912)
  • Elaphe taeniurus, Leonhard Hess Stejneger (1907)
  • Elaphe schmackeri, Leonhard Hess Stejneger (1907)
  • Coluber vaillanti, François Mocquard (1905)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi, A. Butler (1899)
  • Coluber schmackeri, George Albert Boulenger (1896)
  • Coluber schmackeri, Oskar Boettger (1895)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus schmackeri, Oskar Boettger (1895)
  • Coluber tæniurus, George Albert Boulenger (1890)
  • Coluber taeniurus, George Albert Boulenger (1890)
  • Elaphis taeniurus, George Albert Boulenger (1887)
  • Elaphis grabowskyi, Johann Gustav Fischer (1885)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus grabowskyi, Johann Gustav Fischer (1885)
  • Elaphis yunnanensis, John Anderson (1879)
  • Orthriophis taeniurus yunnanensis, John Anderson (1879)
  • Coluber Nuthalli, William Theobald (1868)
  • Elaphe tæniurus, Edward Drinker Cope (1861)
  • Elaphe taeniurus, Edward Drinker Cope (1861)
Elaphe taeniurus helfenbergeri

Elaphe taeniurus helfenbergeri

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi

Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi


Elaphe taeniurus helfenbergeri

Elaphe taeniurus helfenbergeri

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Distribution map of Long-tailed rat snake, Elaphe taeniura in Thailand
  • Ao Luek District, Krabi
  • Ban Rai District, Uthai Thani
  • Bannang Sata District, Yala
  • Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Khanom District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Khao Phanom Bencha National Park
  • Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khao Yoi District, Phetchaburi
  • Khlong Saeng Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Kra Buri District, Ranong
  • Lan Saka District, Nakhon Si Thammarat
  • Mae Ramat District, Tak
  • Mueang Chonburi District, Chonburi
  • Mueang Chumphon District, Chumphon
  • Pak Chong District, Nakhon Ratchasima
  • Pang Mapha District, Mae Hong Son
  • Phu Luang Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Sai Yok National Park
  • Salak Pra Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Tha Song Yang District, Tak
  • Tha Yang District, Phetchaburi
  • Than To District, Yala
  • Ton Nga-Chang Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Umphang District, Tak
  • Waeng District, Narathiwat

Range map of Elaphe taeniura in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits and Parinya Pawangkhanant for their help with many range data.

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