Choosing a Python as a Pet
Pythons are non-venomous constrictor snakes which are widely recognised as one of the largest species of snake in the world. Some species grow to lengths of up to 35ft. Originating from tropical and sub-tropical continents of Africa; Asia and Australia; they have come to be popular pets for experienced keepers in Europe and the USA.
The more popular species to keep as pets are the Ball; Royal; and King Python, which will grow to about 5ft long. The Children’s Python which has an average adult size of 2-3Ft long.
Other species, like the Burmese Python or the Reticulated Python grow extremely large; and can be quite dangerous. Therefore they are not advised to be kept as pets.
Company for Pythons
Pythons, like most snakes, tend to be solitary pets and it is recommended that they are kept alone. Multiple snakes will require multiple set-ups.
Depending on the species, some pythons can live for up to 40 years.
Where Pythons Like to Live
Ball Pythons are not hugely active pets but they will require quite a large tank due to their size. Choose a vivarium which is secure so that your Snake cannot escape.
Strong branches, and sheltered hides will be needed for your Python to feel safe and well; in addition a heat mat and basking lamp will be needed to regulate your Snake’s body temperature. Nocturnal snakes, your Python will not need specialist lighting. However, to view your snake at night, you should use a night-time light.
Your snake will also need a water bath deep enough to soak in, especially during shedding periods.
Give your snake a couple of days to settle in, before you try handling it. Be gentle and persistent, with short sessions at first to build trust. It shouldn’t take too long for the snake to get comfortable in your company. Remember these snakes are constrictors so they may try to wrap themselves around you.
Be gentle, and try to avoid sudden movements. If they do wrap around your arm or neck, gently grasp its tail and unwrap it. Never try to unwrap it by holding its head.
Diet & Nutrition
Pythons are carnivorous and can be fed exclusively mice or small to medium sized rats (choose food size according to the size of the snake). An adult Python should only need to be fed once every two weeks. On the other hand, younger snakes should be fed fuzzy mice every 5-7 days.
Dangling the prey in front of the snake with forceps usually gets the snake interested.
Fresh water should be available for your Python at all times for your snake to both drink and soak.
Health & Hygiene
Pythons are a hardy species of snakes, so are generally quiet resilient; and with a good diet and a routine will remain quite healthy.
As a reptile grows, its skin becomes too tight and worn. A new skin awaits just below the old. When a snake gets ready to shed, its body colour will start to dull and develop a whitish sheen. To assure proper hydration, providing additional misting during the shedding process will help them. Occasionally during shedding, your Python may retain some skin around the eye. If this happens, it is important to help remove the dead skin. Bathing your Python in warm water for about ten minutes should help. If within 24 hours, the skin remains, it is recommended that you seek medical assistance.
These are small black parasites that live on your Milk Snake and feed on their blood. If affected by mites, they will be visible around the eyes, mouth and under its scales. Symptoms will include lethargy and loss of appetite. If mites are discovered, bathe your Snake immediately in warm water. Remove all the contents from the vivarium and fully disinfect it. After that, replace substrate with kitchen roll and keep furnishing to a minimum. You will need to use a mite treatment to rid the tank of all mites, and medical attention is recommended.
Bacterial infections are typically caused by poor cage conditions, low temperatures or too much humidity; but they can also transfer between snakes. Symptoms include a wheezy breathing sound, excessive saliva and nasal discharge. Mild infections will generally go away once living conditions are improved, but veterinary advise is recommended for serious infections.
If you are concerned about your Snake’s health, our Pet Care Advisors are on hand to help, although veterinary attention may be recommended. Regurgitation may occur if your Python is handled too soon after eating, or if their food is too large; although it may also be a sign of digestive problems. If regurgitation occurs, monitor it closely for other symptoms. O if your Python repeatedly regurgitates its meals, shows signs of excessive weight loss or shows any other signs that are worrying, seek medical attention.
Cleaning the Habitat
Snakes generally require little cleaning as they rarely defecate. Remove feces and soiled bedding as necessary, and if your snake defecates in its water bath, it should be disinfected straight away. A full deep clean every four weeks, with a mild disinfectant will ensure your Snake remains healthy.
Hand washing is very important when owning any reptile. Washing your hands before and after handling your Snake will help keep you and your pet healthy. If you wash your hands before handling you reduce the risk of passing anything on to your pet.
As with all reptiles, Pythons have the potential to carry pathogens such as salmonella; so children under five should not handle them. Hands should be thoroughly washed before and after handling.
Take Me Home Checklist
Before you take your Python home, it is important that you have a habitat set up for them to move straight into. This list will help you identify what you need, and if you have any questions, our Pet Care Advisors in store will be only too happy to assist.
• Suitable vivarium with secure lid
• Substrate & Bedding
• Water dish
• Decoration and hides
• Misting bottle
• Humidity gauge