The Burmese Python is in the top 5 largest snakes in the world with sizes of up to 26 feet being recorded. This is however quite uncommon and it is possible to keep a Burmese python to a much more sensible size of 12-14ft.
Burmese Pythons make a loud ‘hissing sound’ as part of their defence techniques, this is created by them expelling a lung full of air and it not by making a sound from the mouth.
Burmese Pythons hunt using heat pits in their mouths which allow them to see heat created by mammals, this is why we always advise dipping the defrosted prey item into boiling hot water for 1-2 seconds before offering to your snake. Be sure to shake off any drips onto some kitchen roll first.
HOUSING YOUR SNAKE
There are a number of wooden, plastic and glass enclosure available for reticulated pythons. Always purchase an enclosure which is a suitable size for your animal. Plastic or wooden and part glass enclosures are the best as glass alone can make it hard to control temperature. Always try to use a thermostat with your enclosure to enable the snake to gain suitable hot and cold temperatures.
Reticulated pythons can reach large lengths and some have been recorded at 25ft in the wild, however with a sensible feeding regime this is more likely to be 9ft for males and 14ft for females, with dwarf and SD being smaller. On purchasing a reticulated python, considerations should always be made to housing the snake as an adult. Reticulated pythons require a large enclosure which is custom built, there are a few vivarium building services available.
Whilst your snake is still small, there are hatchling tubs available or some people choose to use Really Useful Boxes which are also available as custom kits. Heating should be provided via a heat lamp if using a vivarium, or a heat mat if choosing a terrarium or RUB. UVB light is not required, but natural lighting can be provided by a tube or LED light. Forest substrate is best as it retains some humidity which is useful for shedding purposes, but Lignocel, Aspen and other substrates are also suitable. Provide a large water bowl which should be replaced with fresh water daily. Reticulated pythons like to climb, so it is a good idea to provide branches or an alternative to climb on.
HANDLING YOUR SNAKE:
When handling your reticulated python it is important to use an antibacterial hand wash before and after touching your animal. This ensure that no parasites or bacteria is passed between you and your snake. When handling always use a hook to gently stroke the snakes head to let it know you are going to touch it- we call this tap-training. Over time, the snake is able to distinguish between feeding and handling times by not expecting food once it has been stroked gently on the nose. This should be continued throughout the snakes life.
Gently pick the snake up by scooping around 2/3 of the way down the snakes body. Don’t restrict the snake and try not to hold the first 3rd of the snake where the vital organs are, this can cause discomfort to your snake. Always leave 48 hours or more after feeding your snake before handling to prevent bites and discomfort to your animal which can cause regurgitation. We advise not to handle your snake 48 hours before feeding- especially for fussy feeders.
Genus, Species Python bivittatus
Adult Size 7-18 feet
Habitat Grassy, Marshy areas
Lifespan 15-20 Years
Diet Mice, rats, rabbits
Ambient Temp (f) 84-88
Basking Temp (f) 88-92
Humidity (%) 50-70
Locality Southeast Asia Difficulty 3
Breeding Age Female 3, Male 18 months
Social Structure Live alone except breeding times
- Dust free substrate
- A water bowl large enough for your snake to submerse in
- Hides or décor on hot and cold sides
- A thermometer to check the temperatures
- Ideally a thermostat
- Feeding tongs: steel ones are a good idea
- A pet care book / care sheet
- Heat bulb/ceramic/heat mat
- A reptile safe disinfectant for cleaning
- A Rat or Mouse for feeding your snake
SEXING YOUR SNAKE:
Male and female snakes may differ between sizes and length of tail, but to get an accurate gender there are 2 methods.
1- probe your snake by sliding the probe under the vent towards the tail. If the probe goes in a small amount then the snake is female, if the snake is male the probe will slide further, this is where the hemipenes are located.
2- ‘pop’ the snake by holding the snakes tail in one hand and gently rolling towards the vent with the other exposing the genitals.
Snakes can be badly damaged during sexing and should only be sexed by a professional.
It is important to regularly check the health of your burmese python and there are a few common diseases and disorders to look out for.
Eyes– check the eyes are clear of infection, discharge or stuck eye caps (these can occur from a dry shed, increase the humidity or place snake on soak periodically until eye caps come off) you can provide a moss hide for your snake close to shedding time or soak the snake for 20 minutes at a time until the shed comes off.
Skin– check the skin for black spots or raised scales which can be a sign of mites. Mites can usually be seen around the eye socket and under the chin. Mites can be treated using a number of chemical products or for a natural cure, Taurrus predatory mites can be used regularly for prevention and treatment.
Respiratory Infections– RI is a term for a broad spectrum of infections in the lungs and respiratory system. It is generally caused by ill health along with damp or cold conditions and can be treated with a nebuliser. We always recommend seeing the vet if you suspect RI, however it is extremely rare and is not usually the actual cause of the symptoms that are seen. It is normal for Burmese pythons make a loud hissing sound as they move around of if they are startled or feel threatened.