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Reticulated PythonDownload as PDF (205KB)

Latin name: Python reticulatus

Size

Mainland reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus reticulatus) are one of the world's largest snakes, with exceptional examples being recorded at 32 feet long and weighing in at 350 pounds. These specimens are exceptional and very rare, with the average adult size staying between 10 to 20 feet long. On the other hand, several wild populations of reticulated pythons have proven to reach much smaller adult sizes than the "mainland" varieties. These "dwarf" reticulated pythons (P. r. jampeanus, and P. r. saputrai) max out at 10 to 12 feet, and there are also "super dwarf" reticulated pythons that appear to max out at 6 to 8 feet in length.

Life Span

On average, reticulated pythons live 15 to 20 years, with some individual snakes reaching 25 or even 30 years of age

Diet

Frozen-thawed, appropriately sized rodents/rabbits warmed to room temperature.

Feeding

A good rule of thumb is to feed one prey item, of comparable girth to the thickest part of the snake's body, every 7 to 10 days. Reticulated pythons fed more often will grow faster and can reach greater lengths, but overfeeding snakes can cause health problems, as with any animal. No snake should be handled directly after a feed and should be left for a minimum of 24 hours.

Housing

Size - The most important aspect of housing is that it must safely contain the snake. Tight-fitting racks or strong enclosures with locks are a must. Baby reticulated pythons can be kept in shoebox-sized cages or 10 gallon terrariums. Adult reticulated pythons can be housed in 6-8ft x 3ft vivariums. Custom-built cages should be constructed of strong, waterproof materials for ease of cleaning.

Substrate - Newspaper, Aspen, Cypress Mulch or Corrugated Cardboard.

Habitat - Hide spots are a fundamental asset for all reptiles and are particularly effective for juvenile reticulated pythons. We recommend something tight fitting but with an entrance large enough for the animal to enter and exit easily.

Temperature - Temperatures should range from 76° Fahrenheit on the cool side to 92° as a hotspot. To achieve these temperatures several heating devices can be used such as:-

  • Heatmats
  • Basking/Infrared Bulbs
  • AHS heaters
  • Ceramic bulbs

These are down to personal preference and all should be used with the appropriate Thermostats to control the temperature and avoid overheating.

Lighting - Snakes need a photo period light cycle; provide 8–12 hours of light daily; do not leave white light on at all times; to view snakes at night use a black or infrared light.

Water - A large water dish should be available at all times, constructed of dishwasher-safe or easily sanitised materials, and it should be heavy enough to not be easily tipped over. The water dish does not need to be large enough for your snake to soak in, though reticulated pythons can be soaked for a few hours in a separate container or a bathtub once they begin shedding to ease the removal of shed skin.

Do not house different species of reptiles together.

Recommended Supplies

  • Enclosure/rub with secure lid
  • Thermometer and humidity gauge
  • Appropriate substrate
  • Hiding or retreat area/sturdy branch
  • Large water dish
  • Incandescent bulb or ceramic heater
  • Light timer
  • Under tank heat source
  • Book about Retics
  • Infrared or black light

Handling & Temperament

Baby reticulated pythons can be nervous about having giant predatory animals (such as humans) around them all the time and may hiss or even strike, but with gentle daily handling they become quite confident.

Acclimated reticulated pythons have a strong feeding response, so expect that whenever you open the enclosure they will be interested in food. Everyone handles this differently, but the basic idea is the same; before you reach toward your snake with your hand take the time to show the snake that it’s not being fed. We use a newspaper, which will not hurt the snake’s teeth if it bites it. Pat the snake on top of its head until it moves away and is no longer looking for a target to strike at and eat. Once this happens, we simply pick the snake up by hand. Once they’re out of their enclosures, our reticulated pythons are usually very receptive to handling.

When dealing with any large snake it is wise to have a second experienced handler present and keep the animal’s head pointed away from you and others at all times, especially if you’re handling an easily spooked animal.

Habitat Maintenance

  • Clean out water dish and replace water daily.
  • Remove faeces daily.
  • Remove food if not eaten immediately.
  • Thoroughly clean the tank at least once a month. Set snake aside in a secure enclosure. Scrub the tank and furnishings with a 3% bleach solution, rinse thoroughly with water, removing all smell of bleach.
  • Dry the enclosure/furnishings and add clean substrate.

Grooming & Hygiene

Snakes will regularly shed their skin; if old pieces of skin remain after shedding, mist the snake and gently rub off the old skin.

Because all snakes are potential carriers of infectious diseases and salmonella, always wash your hands before and after handling your snake and/or the habitat contents to help prevent the potential of spread of diseases.

Pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems should contact their physician before purchasing and/or caring for a snake.

Signs of a Healthy Animal

  • Active and alert
  • Eats regularly
  • Clear eyes
  • Regular shedding of skin
  • Healthy skin
  • Sheds skin in one complete piece
Common Health Issues
Health Issue Symptoms or Causes Suggested Action
Dermatitis Blisters; rapid shedding caused by an unclean habitat or one that is too cold or damp. Clean the habitat and lower humidity. Consult your exotic reptile Veterinarian.
Respiratory Disease Laboured breathing. Mucus in mouth or nostrils. Can be caused by a habitat that is too cold or damp. Keep snake warm and dry. Consult your exotic reptile Veterinarian.
Stomatitis White, cheese-like substance in the mouth; loss of teeth and appetite. If untreated, can be fatal. Consult your exotic reptile Veterinarian.
Ticks & Mites Parasites on skin; can transmit diseases. Consult your exotic reptile Veterinarian.
Red Flags
  • Unusually frequent or infrequent shedding
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargic or reluctant to eat
  • Bumps or spots on skin
  • Abnormal faeces
  • Laboured breathing
  • Difficulty shedding
  • White, cheese-like substance in mouth
Note: The information in this Care Sheet is not a substitute for veterinary care. If you need additional information, please refer to the above sources or contact your veterinarian as appropriate.