Breed profile: Information about the Burmese python
Breed profile: Information about the Burmese python
First things first, this is not a beginner pet. Burmese pythons can grow up to 25 feet in length and weigh 250 pounds. You must research these snakes and know that you can give them what they need to survive in captivity, they are huge, expensive and can be very dangerous. It is the advice of many that, due to their unsuitability for beginner pets, they may be best left in the wild and that’s not to mention the difficulty of rehoming such a massive snake. Having said that, for the right person these can be extremely interesting pets, so long as you are willing to learn how they need to be looked after and make the commitment to their size and cost of living.
These snakes are not going to be winning any contests for speed anytime soon, they are slow and are considered docile in comparison to other snakes of larger sizes and are reasonably undemanding in what they require. They can be aggressive at feeding time and it is vital that you differentiate between you and their meal, some owners suggest gentle tapping the snake on its nose with a newspaper that’s rolled up, as a notice to tell them it isn’t feeding time. Whichever way you decide to tell your snake you are not food/it isn’t feeding time; you need to get this right. You don’t want to end up with your massive Burmese python hanging off your arm as it’s mistaken you for its lunch, or worse, wrapping itself around your body.
Do not handle your snake for a few days after it has fed as this may cause it to regurgitate its food. Also have at least one other person present when feeding your python, this is less important when they are little but once they start hitting the 7-foot mark, you need to be very cautious when feeding them. If your python does try or succeeds in wrapping around your body, try to unwrap it from its tail. Another thing you will need to be aware of is that Burmese Pythons can be head shy, this is where your python will jerk back when being touched on their head. This is something they will get over with training but is something to be aware of.
Snakes are escape artists and the Burmese python is no stranger to finding ways to get out, so make sure you snake’s tank won’t let them escape. Their home should be large enough that they can turn around in it, but a size that allows for acute temperature measurements as well as humidity control. Their tank doesn’t need to be high as these snakes stick close of the ground in their natural habit. Young pythons will grow quite quickly so be cautious of this when buying housing for them, it may not be worth it to step up the size of their tank each time but rather skip a few. Also be aware that for adult Burmese pythons you will very likely need to build an enclosure for them by hand.
As with all snakes and reptiles, you need to make sure they have a hide, you can buy this depending on your snakes’ size or make one – cardboard boxes are great for this. If your snake is on the larger size, you may want to think about storage bins with a hole cut into them – be wary that there are no sharp edges your snake can catch itself on. When your snake is shedding you can provide them a place that’s humid to go to – sphagnum moss in their hide is a good idea.
Temperature and substrate
Your python will need to have a daytime temperature around 30-31 °C and an area for basking that stay between 32-34 °C. To do this you can use ceramic heating elements or a heating pad under their tank but make sure they cannot burn themselves on the light and that they are protected to not burn your snake. At night the temperature can be maintained between 25-27 °C for them but keep an eye on it, so they are not getting too cold. When your snake becomes larger you can investigate other options for heating, such as a pig heating blanket.
As with most snakes, when they are young it is a good idea to line their tank with plain paper or kitchen towels so you can check their health, these substrate options also make it easier to clean. Once your snake starts to grow and become larger, out or indoor carpeting is a good idea as it’s easy to clean and you can sterilize it without too much hassle. Lino can also be used as, once again, it’s easy to clean.
Food and water
As with all snakes you must remember not to feed them anything that is larger than their width at the largest point. These snakes will eat, and it is prudent not to overfeed them as they will become obese if you do this. Hatchlings can be fed once or twice a week on mice or small rats, progressing to rats and, as the snake grows, rabbits. Adult Burmese pythons will only need feeding once every two weeks but monitor them to make sure what is going to be best for your snake.
Water should always be available to your snake for soaking (when your snake is younger) and for drinking. You will need to change this daily, so your snake has access to clean water. Once your snake has outgrown their dish for soaking you will need to provide them access to a tub of water so they can have a soak.
Once again, these are NOT beginner snakes and should only be purchased by experienced snake owners.
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