Care Sheet for Reticulated Python - Python reticulatus
Care Sheet written by: Paddy ClareThe king of constrictors, reticulated pythons have the potential to reach 23ft, although this is unlikely, you can expect a female mainland reticulate python average out at about 16ft-18ft. At least 3-4 people should be at hand when handling a snake of this size. Reticulated pythons are built for combat with over 100 curved, when biting Reticulated pythons are known to twist there head to achieve allot of damage. They get there name from the patterning along their spinal column, they are known as retics. They originate from Thailand although they accommodate surrounding islands such as, Sumatran, Honey island, Sulawesi, Java and many other surrounding islands. There are many smaller localities of reticulated pythons such as Jampea, Bali yellow head, Madu and Kayuadi. The smallest of the localities are the Madu and the Kayuadi that max out at anywhere between 6ft to a max of 10ft.
HousingThese big snakes require big homes, most adult reticulated pythons can be kept in a Viv 6ft * 3ft * 3ft, this is a minimum requirement. I would want to keep a snake between 12ft long and 17ft long in one of these vivs, at 16ft a new, bigger viv is required. A adequate home would be 8ft * 3ft * 3ft at 17ft or 18ft. These snakes will climb as juveniles but will not as much when adult, so climbing facilities are not necessary. I house my 4ft long retics in 50l rubs, these are ideal for them and can be heated with a statted heatmat. When pushing between 5ft and 6ft a 4ft * 2ft * 2ft viv must be available. This viv can be heated with statted ceramic bulbs and sufficient lighting. 8ft is the next viv upgrade, at this size move the snake into a 6ft * 3ft * 3ft enclosure, this will then be a suitable size until around 16ft and would be best heated with AHS heaters, these are around £90 but are a really good piece of heating equipment and I recommend them for any big viv.
Temperature/humidityI keep my Retics temperature between 85F and 90F in the warm end, and let it drop to as low as 75F in the cool end, a humidity of around 60-70% can be achieved by using a big enough water bowl or use less ventilation on the viv. The best substrate for retics is newspaper, it is cheap, easy to clean and is easily disposed of when soiled. Although it isn’t the nicest of substrates it is certainly the most beneficial. The next choice is aspen, although it cost a bit to fill a big viv, it looks nice, it does its job, it’s easy to clean and it helps to keep a steady humidity and stop the viv getting to moist.
TemperamentReticulated pythons are generally very tame snakes with alot of handling, but do get very food orientated so it is therefore best to hook the snake out of the viv. Another useful method to remove a snake from a viv is tap training, this is where you rub the snake gently on the back of the head when handling with a soft object, this helps the snake to tell the difference between feeding time and handling time. If you are bit followed by constricted by any big snake, vinegar should be sprayed in the mouth of the snake, snakes do not like the taste and will therefore release their grip. This is also a reason 2-3 people should be on hand while handling these monster snakes, they can assist you to remove the snake in a case of a bite.
These snakes require big prey items because of their big size, this can become costly. Small to medium rats should be offered to a 5-6ft long retic, rabbits can be offered at around 8ft long. At around 12ft long medium to large rabbits should be offered every 2 weeks to stop the snake becoming obese, No snake should be handled directly after a feed and should be left for a minimum of 24hours.