What is a python snake?
When faced with a python snake, you can look for three main characteristics:
- Dark brown blotches shaped irregularly on a tan background.
- Blotches fit together like a puzzle or giraffe pattern.
- Dark wedges on top of the head, below the head, and behind the eye
Regardless of length, pythons are bulky for their size. They have triangular-shaped heads and sharp, backwards-curving teeth that they use to grab prey.
Most pythons are large snakes such as the reticulated python (Python reticulatus), which can grow over 30 feet [9 meters] in length. There are also small python species such as the anthill python, which only grows up to 24 inches [61 centimetres in size and is considered the smallest python species globally.
The colouration and size of different species of python vary widely. Depending on their local habitats and camouflage needs, colouring can range from elaborately patterned scales, solid brown and bright green.
The longest reticulated python ever recorded was found in 1912 and measured in at a staggering 10 metres – that’s more than half the length of a bowling lane and makes this snake longer than a giraffe is tall.
History of python snakes
The python snake is native to the tropics and subtropics of the eastern hemisphere. The name Python was proposed by François Marie Daudin in 1803 for non-venomous flecked snakes.
Eight species of Python live in sub-Saharan Africa, India, China, Southeast Asia and the Philippines. Despite their large size, some of these species survive in urban and suburban areas, where their secretive habits and recognized value as rat catchers. Meaning they are respected and protected due to their exceptional skill.
Most pythons are terrestrial to semiarboreal, and a few, such as the green tree python (Morelia Viridis) of Australia and New Guinea, are strongly arboreal. Terrestrial pythons are regularly found near water and are proficient swimmers, but they hunt and eat almost exclusively on land. More gigantic pythons prey mainly on mammals and birds; smaller species also eat amphibians and reptiles.
Many people in Asia, Australia, and Africa live closer to pythons than they think, as the snakes often use backyards, basements, and roofs as their habitat. Pythons may also live on or near farms or gardens, where rodent species are abundant. Some people appreciate the pest control pythons provide, but others consider the snakes to be pests and kill them on sight. Pythons are often run over on purpose while sunning on or crossing a road. In Asia, pythons are killed for folk medicine uses and as a food source. The larger python species, particularly the Indian Python, are killed for their beautiful patterned skin, used for clothing and apparel.
In Australia, pythons are a protected species, although many are illegally taken from the wild to support growing trade in pet pythons. Pythons everywhere suffer from loss of habitat.
Pythons, boas, and anacondas. Giant snakes like these capture our attention as stars of monster movies. None of these giant snakes is hateful or evil.
Buying a python snake
The Python themselves are inexpensive to purchase, whether you buy them from a shelter or a shop. They usually cost between £40 to £200, whichever source you choose but bear in mind that there are many bearded dragons without a home in shelters.
Blue cross, petsathome and many other charities offer you to adopt bearded dragons that need a new home.
Blue Cross says: “We help find the perfect pet for you by matching the pet to suit you and your family’s lifestyle, ensuring that whatever animal you adopt it is the right one for you.”
On the other hand, websites such as gumtree allow people to post private listings of their Python. However, make sure you look carefully, as sometimes the owners are not looking out for what is best for the Python.
If you are looking for something with more guarantee. Pets at home sell python. They can also provide you with more information. You can also pick up everything you need for your Python (cage, bedding, food) when you are there.
Python snake Habitat
Pythons can be challenging to find and watch long enough to learn their habits. They are found in rain forests, grasslands and savannas, woodlands, swamps, rocky outcrops, desert sandhills, and shrublands, depending on the species.
Wild pythons may be active day or night, depending on species, habitat, and most active prey.
Most pythons seek shelter in tree branches or hollows, among reeds, rocky outcrops, or abandoned mammal burrows. When mimicking their habitat, make sure to include these things. You can buy recommended ‘toys’ for your Python on websites such as amazon.
However, there are two exceptions – the woma and the black-headed Python. These two pythons create their burrow by digging with the head and scooping out the dirt by curving their neck.
A plastic cage for your pet python will ensure ideal conditions for maintaining correct temperatures and humidity levels with a secure top stopping any budding escape artists!
Base the size of the cage on the size of your reptile:
- It would help if you started with a 10-gallon container for your hatchlings. Anything much larger will cause stress
- Juveniles should have 20-gallon enclosures
- An adult ball python should have a 30-40 gallon enclosure
Decorate the enclosure with other fake fauna, rocks and places to hide to encourage exploration:
- Hatchlings should have at least one hide box and some artificial fauna & rocks in their enclosure
- Include at least two hide boxes (half logs or cork bark tubes work great) for your adult ball pythons, one on the cool side and the other on the warmer side of the enclosure
Ball pythons do not require any special-lighting (e.g. UVB) in their tank; however, regular day-night cycles should be mimicked as well as possible.
Do not place the enclosure directly next to a window; you cannot control the sun’s rays’ intensity or duration! A basking-bulb can be provided. However, it should only heat a small area, large enough for your snake to coil under.
Like most pet snakes, Ball pythons need supplemental heating in their enclosure.
Many shop-purchased plastic enclosures for snakes may already come with heating tape on the bottom. Heating tape or a heating mat is ideal as it heats from the snake’s underbelly and can be installed to heat a specific area of the tank.
Aim to only heat one-third of your snake’s enclosure.
Providing both a more relaxed and warmer side in their tank is essential as it gives your ball python a choice and better replicates their natural environment.
Diet of a python Snake
All snakes are carnivores. The snake’s diet depends on the species.
Depending on the size of a pythons snake, they may eat rodents, birds, lizards, and mammals like monkeys, wallabies, pigs, or antelope. It has been recorded that scientists found a rock python with a small leopard in its stomach!
Live prey should not be fed to snakes, as the prey will suffer psychological stress while being hunted by the snake. Furthermore, the pray may harm the snake by biting it before it is eaten. Even a small mouse can bite and severely injure a pet snake by inducing a severe, potentially life-threatening infection from the bite.
You should train your snake to eat dead prey. It is more humane for the prey and safer for the snake. Offer your snake either thawed, previously frozen prey, or freshly killed ones. You do not have to kill the prey yourself, as most pet stores will supply newly killed or frozen rodents to feed.
Once a snaked has consumed a meal, the pythons will look for a warm place to rest while their food digests.
The age, size, and activity level will depend on how often they need feeding. Smaller or younger snakes usually eat twice each week, while larger, more mature snakes typically eat once every week or two. You can feed female snakes approaching breeding season more frequently.
Breeds of python snakes
Before buying your python snake, take a look at the different breeds there are, speak to other snake owners and take look at what specialists have said.
The anacondas live in the marshes, swamps, and slow-moving streams of the Amazon and Orinoco basins in South America.
They are slow on land but stealthy and quick in the water.
Their eyes and nasal passages are on the top of their heads. The placement allows them almost wholly to submerge themselves in the water to wait for prey.
The anaconda can grow to a thirty-foot maximum length.
If you are considering a python for a python snake for a pet, look at the Ball python. The ball pythons are among the most common pet snakes in the world.
Due to them not getting huge compared to other snakes in the python family, they are relatively easy to care for.
The ball python got its name as it can coil itself in a ball as protection from predators.
However, when considering the ball python as a pet, remember they can live up to 30-50 years in captivity.
Blood Pythons live in the forest regions of Southeast Asia.
They are heavily built, meaning they are relatively wide for their length. Their tails are short, while their bodies are thick compared to other snakes of the Python family.
Colour patterns consist of beige, tan or greyish-brown ground colour overlaid with blotches that are brick- to blood-red in colour. The skin is so beautiful that they are killed for their scales. Roughly 100,000 blood pythons are harvested every year for their scales.
The blood python is around ten-foot maximum in length.
Boa constrictors come in a variety of colours. Generally, they are brown, grey, or cream colour with red and brown patterns. These patterns become more pronounced near the tail, as in the case of the red-tailed boa.
The snake’s colouring is an effective camouflage in South and Central America’s jungles and forests, where this species is commonly found. These snakes prefer the rainforest because of the humidity but can survive in near-desert climates if necessary.
Fun fact: The Boa constrictors can weigh up to 60 pounds!
Carpet pythons are found mostly in Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea. There is no one distinct colour for this species. These snakes lay eggs, and the mother snake coils around her eggs until they hatch, but after the eggs hatch, the mother snake does not care for her young. Carpet pythons are usually nocturnal but often warm themselves in the sun.
The carpet python can grow up to thirteen-foot maximum length and weighs up to 33 pounds.
Emerald Tree Boas
Emerald Tree Boas are rarely seen on the ground. These snakes coil themselves around tree branches waiting for prey to get close enough. They have a slower metabolism than other snakes, so they can go months without eating.
These snakes live in the rainforests of South America.
They have highly developed front teeth that are proportionately larger than those of any other nonvenomous snakes.
Females give birth to live young, producing an average of between 6 and 14 babies at a time, sometimes even more.
Python snake exercise
Many snake keepers are known for getting a snake as a lazy pet. However, when snakes are in the wild, they are always on an adventure. A python snake will spend hours out for hours for food, water or trying to find a mate.
Handling your snake regularly should be just as much as taking your dog for a walk. It is a way of taking the snake out of its typical environment to provide exercise and an array of unusual smells.
Many wild-caught snakes are not used to being handled should have limitations on the amount of time spent handling as it may cause stress.
However, captive-bred individuals that get regularly handled will often enjoy human interaction and the chance to move around different surfaces.
On a warm day, don’t be afraid to take your snake outside in the garden and let it roam around on the grass. Be very careful not to take your eyes off the snake though, the last thing you want is for it to burrow into the ground quickly or, worse still, grabbed by a passing predatory bird.
Being able to handle your snake will allow exercise and scent stimulation and allow for easier maintenance and veterinary care if needed.
It has been hardly recognized that snakes require mental stimulation to stay fit and healthy in captivity. Perhaps as snakes do not show visible signs of expression or emotion, it is almost impossible for a keeper to spot if their snake is healthy or happy.
The easiest way to tell is through an X-ray, but there are some other signs you may wish to look for. The thickening of the mid-body, more excellent contrast in colour and behaviour changes all add to a strong pregnancy indication.
Snake owners will see some of the following signs and get excited their snake is pregnant, only to be disappointed or concerned when nothing comes of it. The common mistake, in this case, is the owner let the male lock on the female when she hadn’t even ovulated – without ovulation, there are no ova in the oviducts waiting to be fertilized.
After ovulation and mating, be on the lookout for the ball python’s body’s overall thickening. There won’t be a single large lump as with ovulation, although you may seem some areas thicker than others.
When the ball python’s body gets overall thicker, this is your first sign she may be pregnant. A female python will gather and store fat in preparation for growing the eggs and the venting or laying process.
Another sign you may see is a starker contrast in the python’s colours. The exact colour depends on the individual python and its colours or colour morphs. In general, you’ll notice the darker colours such as brown will get deeper and darker.