Caring for your Burmese PythonCommon Name: Burmese Python
Scientific name: Python Molurus Bivittatus
Homeland: Burma, China, Indonesia, Thailand, and SE Asia
Size: Friggin' huge! Can get over 20 feet long and 150 pounds. And boy, do they grow fast. In 2 years they could be 6 feet long.
Lifespan: 25 years if not longer when properly cared for.
HousingI hope you have a lot of room and lots of money cause you got a biggie! When they reach about 4 feet I believe that it is best to get a cage that will last them their entire life. That's 25 years my fellow Snakeling, so be prepared. You are invited to come by and clean my cages anytime. There is a standard size that whatever the length is of you snake it should have that size in length and width. So if your snake is 16 feet long he should be able to stretch out in an L so a 10 foot long by 6 feet wide would be good. If the cage it too small some snakes just don't adapt and will constantly rub their noses and push to get out. I took a python in one time that had rubbed it's nose/ mouth down to the bone. Before I had a snake barn built my first case cost almost $2,000 to build becasue I wanted it to be perfect and larger than needed. I did get a discount by giving the carpenter a membership to my site and some free photos of me. He still has a hard time explaining to his wife that those photos are "job related." Moving along, don't forget height. my cages have two levels in it along with Infrared heating panels to keep its temperature perfect 24 hours a day year round. Burms DO need a lot of room to move around and climb although not too often for the really big guys but often enough that you will be depriving them if you don't. This allows for good muscle tone to develop. This is important, a costly cage is part of python ownership. If you don't have the money don't get the pet. It is not recommended to let them roam you house unless you keep your home hot and humid and it's escape proof. I have seen bedrooms converted into amazing habitats though.
SubstrateI have found that Dry-dek (the rubber mats used behind most Bars and in kitchens at restaurants or in shower stalls) work great. They are raised off the ground so the pee runs under and your pet is not always walking or slithering through it and it hoses off easily for disinfecting. I see wood chips recommended but I don't like them. They can get lodged in mouths and cause abcesses. Newspaper leaves ink especially visible on albinos. The rubber mats have lasted me over 20 years now. You can get similar bar back type mats fairly inexpensive at Wal-mart or Costco. You can also order them from me but I will charge you twice as much due to the weight in shipping. Save the money get them local and use the left over cash to buy my pictures. That sounds like a good deal now doesn't it? Hmmm?
BehaviorThey call them the gentle giant. "They" never saw them at feeding time! They are very gentile but due to the incredible size they can also be dangerous. Some are just sweet as can be and a few somehow end up being nasty . You must handle these guys often to keep them gentile or one day you will have 20 feet of unhappy animal to pry off your leg. It will be your fault if the only time you handle them is feeding time. Some even act kind of floppy in handling and will even fall out of your hands if you don't hold them up. Constant interaction is a must. Don't you have better things to do?
Daytime temps range on one side of their cage starting at 80 degrees to 92 on the far end. Nighttime drop on the cool side so the cage gets no lower that 78. Now I keep it that way year round. This can gets expensive on the ol' electric bill which again is why I love the heat panels. Click here to learn about them.
I have an inexpensive vaporizer blowing in steam 8 hours a night, every night. The humidity is good for boids but tuff to clean. It makes a great place for mold and bacteria to grow. Daily cleaning is a must. If you do not like that idea don't get the pet. Another way not so troublesome but better than nothing is to get a rubbermaid bin, plastic shoe or sweater box at K-mart or such and fill the bottom with vermiculite and/ or coconut bark. Add enough water so that when you squeeze a handful it clumps up and breaks apart if you poke it with one finger. You'll get the idea when you try it. Then cut a hole in the lid big enough for your snake to climb through and he will hopefully go in there for his humidity. Not good for big snakes though. It also acts as a great shelter for the smaller snakes too. One last thing here, pick up a hygrometer to keep track of the humidity. I have the digital thermometer/hygrometer combos but you can pick up inexpensive ones at Walmart or Radio Shack.
SheddingMy kids shed every 4-5 weeks. Do not handle them during this time. Make sure water is available for soaking, especially if a water bin is your only humidity source or you may have a patchy shedded snake and you will have to help him out. You also want to be sure those eye caps come off or you can have problems later if they build up.
FeedingAs babies it is easy but they grow fast. They will over eat if you let them, which can lead to vomiting. Snake vomit smells kind of like HELL. Have I made myself clear on not over feeding? All my snakes are offeredfrozen/ thawed rodents every 10-14 days, except hatchlings of course. I get my rodents from www.rodentpro.com and www.gourmetrodent.com. If you have space to store frozen rodents you can save a lot rather than getting them from the pet shops. I bought a separate freezer for them. Feed rodents or rats of appropriate size. Look at the roundest part of the snakes body and give them food that will fit in there without a lump. It's better for their digestion to feed two smaller food items over a 4-day period than one large meal. Do not handle after they eat for at least 4 days. 7 is better. Many of my kids have got to the point where I just leave a food item on the floor of the cage and they casually move up to it and start to eat. No attempt to strangle at all. Some people liek to feed their snakes ina separate feed box so they don't get the idea that when you go near the cage its feeding time, so to lower the chance of getting bit (notice I said lower not guarantee) it is not uncommon to have a feeder box.. This can allow for a clean feeding area if they squeeze any stuff out of their food you just throw the box away and get another. I used to feed all my snakes in a separate feed box but have since stopped with no problems. This was difficult with the large snakes so I used an aluminum water trough. As soon as they' were in it they went nuts looking for food. One of the very few signs of any intelligence I get from them. Also, it does not hurt to keep a feeding, shedding and pooping chart. This will be helpful to your Veterinarian if problems arise.
This and That:
Size, size size. When you have a full understanding of these three elements of Burmese python care you will know if you should get one. Mine are so large I never handle them alone or even change their water alone. Even though I'm too big to eat I am confident if one latched on to me and pinned my arms to my side strangling me, they could kill me if they wanted to.