This truly remarkable looking snake is a RHINOCEROS RAT SNAKE, which in the wild can be found in subtropical rainforests from northern Vietnam to southern China.
They get their common name from the bizarre scaly ‘horn’ on the front of their snout and are sometimes also known as the Vietnamese longnose snake or the green unicorn. This snake was the subject of a naming competition, which I ran throughout May 2013, and he is named Pinocchio! Whilst the ‘horn’ isn’t actually a nose this name seemed perfect for him and it was definitely my favourite of the many suggestions received. Thanks very much to Lisa Simmons & Neil Bundhoo from my home town of Swindon for thinking up this excellent name!
The common name of green unicorn is certainly suitable when they are mature, or approaching maturity, but they do in fact start out in life a fairly bland grey/brown colour. Here are some pictures I took when I first bought Pinocchio as a baby in February 2013:
I had been wanting to keep this species for many years so it was very exciting when, in late February 2013, I stumbled upon an advertisement for this gorgeous snake. He was captive bred in Estonia but was being sold by a UK breeder who had bought him for himself but then had a change of mind. I was more than happy to be in the right place at the right time to have him!
As the species grows they develop more of a silvery-grey colouration as you can see here, these pictures having been taken around 4-5 months after the ones above:
As adults their colouration is absolutely spectactular by comparison to their juvenile colours!
When Pinocchio is preparing to shed his skin, his colour fades massively and his eyes cloud over and look bluish-grey. This is common to all snakes and is caused by the secretion of a lubricating fluid betweeen the old outer skin and the new skin, which helps the snake to shed its skin by allowing it to slide off more easily. The pictures below are ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots of Pinocchio’s shedding process!
Pinocchio was hatched on 7th June 2012 and, during a visit to a South Gloucestershire school in July 2022, Pinocchio met a Year 5 pupil who was remarkably born on the exact same date in 2012. Here is Isla, 10, holding her birthday buddy!