Sunbeam snakes are stunning reptiles that have recently garnered a lot of love and attention. And, it is easy to see why when you glimpse their magnificence!

Sunbeam Snakes, sometimes known as Iridescent Earth Snakes, are a little-known species of snake.

With just one glimpse, they capture the interest of reptile Enthusiasts due to their iridescent beauty and peculiar way of living.

This species’ popular name comes from the remarkable iridescent scales, which are difficult to portray on film. Unlike most other snakes, Sunbeam snakes prefer to remain wet and somewhat chilly.

The most enchanting Sunbeam species famous for pets are the Hainan Sunbeam Snake (Xenopeltis Hainanensis) and Common Sunbeam Snake (Xenopeltis Concolor).

Whenever a pet reptile gets popular, a flood of disinformation follows. You would be surprised at the suggestions we have seen on other websites!

So we are here to clear things up! This article will teach you all you need to know about the sunbeam snake. Let us get into it right away!

Table of Contents

Taxonomical Classification of Sunbeam Snake

Scientific NameXenopeltis Unicolor

Ecological Habitat for Sunbeam snake

Sunbeam snake on the ground

The sunbeam snake is a lowland snake found in woods, swamps, and savannahs. The species may be found in disturbed and pristine settings, such as urban areas, rice paddy fields, other farming regions, and rainforests.

This primitive snake is most commonly seen in warm and wet places, such as gardens near a secondary forest.

These reptiles spend most of their time underground, emerging only at night or after heavy rains during the wet season.

The appearance of Sunbeam Snake

Adult Sunbeam snakes will grow to be around 3 feet long, making them smaller and slimmer than other exotic snakes. Their broadest point will be around the size of a quarter.

They have a short, angular head and an underside that is creamy in hue. Their little wedge-shaped head is capable of burrowing into the Earth.

Adults are typically less than 3 feet or 0.9 meters in length. Others can reach 49 inches (1.25 meters) in length. Sunbeam snakes in confinement can weigh up to 2.2 lb (1 kg) or somewhat more.

These snakes have fine, interlocking smooth scales that allow them to burrow and keep debris from getting stuck in their body. Their black or brown scales include tiny ridges that help them slide across the ground.

These overlapping brown or black scales function like a prism to provide a rainbow appearance.

The behavior of Sunbeam Snake

Sunbeam coiling sensing the threat

These snakes are ambush predators that suffocate their victims in their muscular coils.

They are fossorial species and devote most of their time underground. They may occasionally strike if handled violently. But, they usually try to flee if lifted.

When challenged, they have been observed shaking their tails in a rattlesnake-like manner.

Sunbeam Snakes are lonely and secretive creatures who like their seclusion. They are not hostile, but they do not enjoy being handled frequently.

While these snakes are initially wary, consistent adequate treatment transforms their temperament in the long run.

Sunbeam Snakes are calm and pleasant since they exhibit no symptoms of anxiety when approached by strangers.

Food Habits for Sunbeam

Sunbeam snakes consume a wide variety of meals in the wild. Frogs, rodents, and tiny reptiles are among their favorite foods.

It is crucial to realize that Sunbeam Snakes may consume quite quickly. They typically devour their prey faster than most other snakes of similar size.

These snakes are known to enjoy skinks, rodents, and frogs. They also devour snakes that are smaller in size than them. If you want to keep one, acquire a separate cage for other pets.

In captivity, these snakes often consume rats and mice. Fuzzy mice and hopper mice are excellent food choices for captive specimens.

Defense Mechanism in Sunbeam Snake

Sunbeam snake at person’s palm

Sunbeam Snakes are more energetic in the evening. During this time, they frequently emerge from their tunnels to scavenge.

They move quickly with heads pushed against the ground and tongues frequently flicking to pick up the aromas of any animal in the air.

Because snake species lack rattles, their tails move softly. When carnivores approach, these snakes will expel a foul-smelling odor from their vent region.

When the predators touch them, they tense and jerk around wildly. While this move does not endanger predators, it is sufficient to drive them away.

Reproduction in Sunbeam Snake

Many people are perplexed by Sunbeam Snake coupling and reproductive activity.

Almost all Sunbeam Snakes for sale are captured in the outdoors. Nobody has figured out how to breed and produce them in captivity effectively.

These snakes are oviparous, which implies their offspring are enclosed in eggs.

There have been very few reports of captive breeding. Female Sunbeam Snakes have been observed laying up to seventeen eggs per season.

It takes roughly seven to eight weeks for these eggs to hatch. Other than that, scientists know very little about their reproduction.

The lifespan of Sunbeam (Shorter in Captivity)

Sunbeam snakes live for a shorter period in confinement, with an average lifespan rate of ten years.

Sunbeam snakes are seldom captivity produced; as a result, these primitive species are widely imported from the wild.

Wild-caught sunbeam snakes are easily stressed, and the poor environmental conditions encountered during shipping and detention at wholesale sites are too much for many of these snakes.

Wild-caught snakes are notorious for their complicated characters and the risk of health problems upon delivery.

The health hazard occurs due to parasites like snake mites that are widespread in the wild.

Most imported sunbeam snakes die within the first six months of confinement. Animals that survive exportation can adapt well if properly kept and cared for by a qualified reptile vet.

Sunbeam Snake as a pet

sunbeam snake as an exotic pet
Exotic pet Sunbeam Snake in the sun

Sunbeam snakes are excellent terrarium pets. Housing them can be complex and tiresome, but they make excellent pet snakes once settled adequately.

Sunbeam snakes are easy to handle and seldom if ever, bite. They are also quite silky and pleasant to the touch.

Pet Sunbeam snakes necessitate only four elements to thrive: humidity, a burrowing substrate, appropriate temperatures, and privacy. These beautiful snakes require exceptionally high humidity in captivity to thrive.

Second, sunbeams require a loose substrate in the cage to dig in because they are fossorial creatures.

Sunbeam snakes, contradictory to what their name implies, prefer colder temperatures!

They don’t need a hot area to sunbathe like other animals. Employing a basking light may lead them to dry out and develop health problems.

The ideal temperature for the terrarium is 80 degrees Fahrenheit on the lowered side and 70 degrees Fahrenheit on the dry side.

Sunbeam snakes prefer to dig in the sand. Thus, the foundation in the terrarium should accommodate this. The ground should be damp, allowing them to dig burrow easily.

Consider that when these exotic reptiles are stressed, they produce a horrible smell. As a result, avoid bumping, poking, and cuddling your pet unless you enjoy showering.

That smell is something you won’t want to carry with you! Do nothing that would make it feel uncomfortable.

Sunbeam Snakes have a calm demeanor. They seldom bite, but if they feel intimidated, they may strike.

Baby sunbeam snakes must be fed every 5-7 days, sub-adult once a week, and adult in two weeks.

Some essential elements are necessary if you want to raise a snake captive.

  • Adequate tank sizes based on snake size,
  • Tank heater for Ambient temperatures,
  • Thermometer to measure temperature gradient in various tank regions,
  • Coconut coir as the layer of substrate,
  • Shallow water dish for humidity

A similar setup works for other famous true python pet species such as Ball Pythons, Lipped pythons, and Mexican Burrowing Pythons.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are sunbeam snakes poisonous?

The sunbeam snake is not at all poisonous and not dangerous to humans or any other large animals.

Do sunbeam snakes have teeth?

The sunbeam snake’s skeleton has specific unique characteristics. There are teeth in the front of the upper jaw, hinged at the base rather than securely linked to the jaw bone. The teeth can move back and forth when needed, which is not typical for other serpents.

Are sunbeam snakes docile?

Sunbeam snakes are pretty calm and may tolerate being held on occasion. However, they may detest being handled frequently or for an extended period and exude a musky odor if stressed.

How long can sunbeam snakes get?

It has a tiny, depressed head, a cylindrical body, and an average length of one meter (three feet)—though some individuals can reach 1.3 meters (about 4 feet).

Are sunbeam snakes suitable for beginners?

These lovely snakes are appealing to everyone searching for a pet snake. On the other hand, Sunbeams are not for novices due to the high mortality rate, stringent habitat, and farming requirements. They are particularly fit for an experienced keeper ready to put in the time and effort to build a proper cage.

Sunbeam Snakes and humanity often avoid each other in the wild. These splendid snakes are becoming increasingly popular as reptile companions because their color-changing scales attract many people.

On the other hand, maintaining captive snakes as pets might be difficult. That is correct since they usually remain underground, and when touched, they even emit a foul odor.

This fascinating animal is a prime example of the pet trade. Though these active borrowers have a conservation status of least concerned, they might not stay such for long.

The other snake in North America that changes our perception of snakes is Red Racer Snake. Read its characteristics and how did it get its name? Is it the color or speed, or both?

(Last Updated on September 5, 2022 by Sadrish Dabadi)

Shradha Bhatta holds a Bachelors’s Degree in Social Work along with a Post-graduate degree in Project Management from Georgian College in Canada. Shradha enjoys writing on various topics and takes pleasure in discovering new ideas. Her life’s mission is to make the world a better place for all beings.