Coelognathus helena / Trincket snake - Care

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Specification Description
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Scientific name: Coelognathus helena
English name: Trincket snake
Average length: 60cm
Distribution: Asia
Reproduction: oviparous / egglaying
Status: Non threatened
Cites: non

Coelognathus helena, (Daudin, 1803)

This snake looks a lot like the relative Coelognathus radiatus but stays a lot smaller and also has a less defensive character. This species has been placed in the genus of Coelognathus but still is often named and adverted as the Elaphe helena. There are two known subspecies, the most kept Elaphe helena helena and the Indian Elaphe helena monticollaris which is found less in captivity.


General appearance:  Adult males are on average 60 to 80cm, females average 100cm to 120cm for the really big individuals. The Coelognathus helena has an interesting pattern as can also be seen in for example, the Elaphe taeniura. The first 30 to 40% of the body consists of a grid pattern of saddles on the back with connect to a pattern on the sides. This pattern continues in a pattern of longitudinal stripes of a light brown stripe across the back and sides and a dark brown on the dorsal which creates a sharp contrast with the light cream coloured ventral scales. The tail is very long and is used for support when climbing. The head is relatively flat and pointed and the eyes are well developed which aids in their nocturnal activities. In the neck they have four distinct longitudinal stripes, two on top and two on the sides. Under the eye is often a dark line. The colour and contrast of the pattern is often most evident in young animals. Where adult animals are often a lot darker and have a bit less contrast.

The C. h. monticollaris  has considerably less pattern and the base colour is this grey instead of brown. The contrast between the colours and pattern is smaller whereby especially in adult animals, the rear part is often completely grey with a light pattern in the front part.


Behaviour:  The trinket snake as it is also called is a nocturnal snake, although they will also travel by day. They are active hunters and are often seen near human establishments while hunting for small rodents that come to the leftover food and waste left by man. They are generally referred to as defensive, especially juveniles will not appreciate being disturbed. When the snake feels threatened is standing in the classic S position which often contains more loops than your average S. They spread their necks vertically so a black / white marking between the scales become visible and often they lift this front part of their body off the ground to look bigger. The mouth will open and often push out their tongue. The tail they will vibrate as much Colubridae do. Animals that get older and are used to being handled will often lose this behaviour.


Origin and habitat:  This species is naturally widely distributed in central southern Asia, Pakistan, southern India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. They inhabit a variety of habitats and areas including humid forests, subtropical forests, grasslands and cultivated areas. This species is often found in the vicinity of people being attracted by the rodents that come to feed on leftover food and the garbage people produce.


Housing:  For an adult couple  a terrarium requires a minimum of 80x40x50cm is needed and a terrarium of 100x50x50cm for a trio. Heating can be done by a heat spot or heat mat. Create a hotspot of 30C. Air temperature on the cool side 24C and 26-28C on the warm side.

Create by means of plants and climbing branches enough climbing possibilities. Always offer a variation of hides in the warmer and cooler zones. This can be done by Reptile-caves, Snake caves but also hollow or half pieces of cork bark etc. As substrate one can use multiple options. Reptibark, Forest Floor bed or, for example coco peat. Spray several times per week to provide a higher humidity and always provide them with clean fresh water that is changed daily.

We can certainly recommend a bio-active setup for this species.


Diet:  They can be fed on a regular schedule of one’s a week. For young animals this can be done with pinky mice. Adult Coelognathus helena can be fed with medium sized till adult mice.


This species does not require a hibernation.

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