The Herp Shop

[top]What is the best first snake/python?

You must first decide a few basic things:
  1. How large you would like the python to be when fully grown
  2. How much are you looking to spend
  3. Is it for show only or is it a pet to be handled from time to time.

Here is a rough outline of what I think are some of the better pythons for first timers.

SpeciesFully Grown Size (m)Average PricePrice LowPrice HighPet Store Price
Childrens Python1.2$150-$260$150$400$300
Spotted Python1.5$150-$260$150$400$300
Stimson's Python1.0$200-$280$200$500$350
Woma Python1.5-2.3 ( depending on locality)$280-350$200$450N/A
Black Headed Python2.5$550-650$400$1000$700
Centralian Carpet Python3.0$290-$390$250$1100N/A
Diamond Python3.0$380-$480$300$1200N/A
Coastal Carpet Python3.3$100-$250$100$1000N/A
Murray Darling2.4$150-$250$150$600N/A
Darwin Python2.4$150-$400$150$600N/A

There are many other pythons available but these are the basics. This is just a rough guide of prices; the high end price is due to locality, colours, and patterns. Morph’s can fetch much higher prices than most other pythons and I have not priced them here as morph prices usually go into the thousands, morph’s are pythons like the albino, or have different markings than normal.

Some species are available through pet stores, but other reptile specific stores can sell many other species and prices will vary from store to store, and state to state as laws, rules, and regulations differ. Some python can live for more than 25Yr’, so they are a long term pet. Be sure that you can fit an enclosure into your home that can to fit your python when fully grown. It is sometimes more convenient to purchase an older python, as you know they are feeding well, and can see their temperament. But it can be a lot pricier. A hatchling can be hand reared and can grow with you starting out with a small enclosure which can be easier on the wallet for starting out. The larger enclosure should be half their length, by quarter of their length, by quarter of their length minimum. Larger the better in the end, as they will appreciate the room when fully grown.

[top]Purchasing Your First Python

When purchasing your first python you should take great care in choosing. You should ensure that the python is feeding well, if in doubt, ask to come on a feeding day to see it being feed. This will also show you how to feed the python as well. With your python you should get a feeding, Shedding, and maybe even a defecation history. You would not be out of line to ask to see the parents. You can then see what markings the parents have and their temperament. Also check the snake over and handle it a little, as hatches they may be feisty and bite but it doesn’t hurt, it’s more a shock the first time. If something looks wrong with the python, there probably is. Follow your instincts with health, regardless of what you are told be the seller.

[top]What enclosure do I keep a hatchling in?

Hatchlings are usually kept in click-clacks. Click-clacks are small plastic tubs available at most hardware stores, supermarkets, etc. It is just any reasonable sized container with a locking lid that has no gaps where a python might be able to get out. Pythons are professional escape artists so you must ensure that there are no gaps and they can not force the lid off, you would be surprised by their strength. If they can get their nose into a space they will force their head through and will have no problem getting the rest of their body’s through. You will need to ensure that there is sufficient ventilation by making small holes in the enclosure; I usually just drill a number of strategically placed holes. A heat mat is the best heating for a hatchling/juvenile in my opinion as it is cheaper, and is less prone to overheating than heat cord. Lamps in a click clack can be very difficult to mount. The heat mat should cover around 1/3rd the flooring of the click clack and not more than half the flooring space. It should also be fastened to the underside of the click clack at one end. This allows a heat gradient, from one end to the other. Your aim should be to have a warm end of approximately 30-32 degrees Celsius, and a cool end of around 24 degrees Celsius the python can then move between the warm area and cool areas to self regulate its own temp. You will need to use some type of flooring on the bottom of the enclosure, I would suggest absorbent paper, or news paper to start off as it is cheap but professional floorings are available. You will also need at least 2 hides, more if you like, they will appreciate places to hide. You will need 1 hide in the warm area and 1 hide in the cool area. Sufficient water supply is also required. Remember that from time to time they may choose to curl up in their water bowl so you will regularly need to check their water and change if necessary.

A good example of a click-clack can be found at this link

I personally scrunch up some newspaper and then pull it out a little to put in their enclosure so that they can hide in amongst it and slither against it. They are best kept on there own in these enclosures.

The exception to this is the diamond python because it requires UV-A and UV-B light (sun light). This can not be achieved through glass as the glass filters out the much needed UV light. Although a diamond python can be kept like this, it requires a regular dose of sunlight each day for at least 1 hr a week, or UV-A/UV-B producing lights in its enclosure. Their habitat temperatures are much cooler than most other Aussie pythons with a warm end at 27degrees Celsius, and a cool end of 20 degrees Celsius.

[top]How often can I handle my snake?

While they are young I would say no more than 15-20min, 4-5 times a week. Over handling them can stress them out to much and can result in feeding problems and death. As they get older they can be handled more frequently and for longer durations. After purchase of a python I try not to handle my pythons for 1-2 weeks to let them settle into their new environments. After this time I feed them wait a few days after feeding and then start handling them. Avoid handling them during shedding as it is a difficult time for them, and it can split the shed making it more difficult to shed their entire slough (old skin) complete.

[top]What can I feed my python?

Captive pythons are mainly feed a diet of frozen rodents, mice, rats, and rabbits being the most common. It is advised that frozen or pre-killed prey be feed to your pythons as many accidents have occurred where the mice or rats have killed or damaged the python. A python can eat prey up to 3 times the size of their head and it is advised to feed them prey approximately 2 times the size of their head. Part of a pythons growth requires that they eat this large prey so that they disarticulate their jaws, and the skin at the front of the jaws learns to stretch. A young python should be feed approximately every 7-14 days and as they get older it should become less frequent. Adult pythons should be feed approximately every 3-4 weeks. Over feeding can lead to pin head syndrome, where their body continues to grow but the head does not, and obesity. Obesity in snakes causes many health related issues. This can be very detrimental to their health and a severe diet would be recommended. Some people choose to give their pythons treats from time to time. Chickens, or pieces of chicken uncooked, fish, and raw meat, are the most common.

[top]Why won't my snake feed?

Most pythons will not feed when coming up to a shed, or when stressed. Firstly don’t panic, and don’t stress, pythons can go for prolonged periods without feeding without any long term damage. An adult python can go for several months or more without feeding and younger pythons can easily go for 4-6 week’s. If they are due for a feed but refuse when offered wait another week and try again. If you notice they are coming up to shed it is likely that they will refuse food until the shed is complete. After they have shed they will be very hungry and will often take multiple rodents. If they have gone 2 weeks past their feeding due date and are not showing signs of shedding a few things to try are:
  1. Braining: force a pin or sharp object through the skull of the rodent until juice comes out the snake will quickly pick up on the smell.
  2. Hide and Wait: leave the rodents at the entry to their hide, close the enclosure and come back in the morning. Often the rodent will be gone in the morning.
  3. Chicken Soup/Stock: dipping the rodent in chicken stock
  4. Skink Scenting: putting a skink and the rodent in a container together so the rodent takes on the smell of a skink.
  5. Check your temps
  6. Try leaving it alone for a few days prior to feeding and just place it in the enclosure and leave it alone.
  7. Do not attempt to force feed your python unless you are experienced. Force feeding should only be attempted by experienced vets and keepers.
  8. Stimulate a feeding response by gently rubbing the food item behind it's neck.

For more information, see also Getting Hatchlings to Eat.

[top]Why is my python not shedding correctly?

Pythons will shed their skins on a regular basis, it is part of their growth cycle. There are many signs of shedding they are:
  • White eye’s
  • Flaky skin
  • Dry skin
  • Milky colour
  • Dull colouring on the skin
  • Sitting in water bowl.

Most of the time pythons will shed an entire skin complete. From time to time this will not occur and some level of assistance will be needed by the owner/carer. During times of shedding it is advisable that you raise the humidity within the enclosure to assist them. Misting an enclosure with a spray bottle, and moving a water bowl over a heat source should help raise humidity. Sometimes dry flaky skin will remain attached you should not pull it off as you may do the python damage. Using a wet tea towel, let your python slither through the tea towel moistening the snake and allowing the python to remove its skin on the tea towel. If this is not working you can soak your python in luke warm water (tepid). The water should only be slightly above room temperature. Your python might freak out a little at first but let it swim around a little and it should settle down. A plastic fish tank with a clip on lid is perfect. Do not leave your python alone in the water as there is always the possibility they might drown. You can also add something for it to rest on as this may help keep stress to a minimum. Some pythons will enjoy it so much you will have problems removing them from the water. Many pythons will also put their heads under the water and search the bottom of their pool - this is normal. Another way, if the python continually tries to get out of the water, is to soak a large towel so it is dripping with water, and 'plaster' it around the walls, then put the snake in, and leave it in there for a while, do not leave it alone as it will try to escape.

A good thread to show you how it I'd done is

[top]How can I sex my python?

Sexing Pythons should only be done by experienced breeders and vets. It is not something that should be attempted by recreational reptile keepers. If you must know, take it to a vet, no matter how many tutorials there are on the internet telling you how to, you can seriously damage a python this way.

[top]Can I keep more than one snake in an enclosure?

There is much debate on whether or not you can keep pythons together in an enclosure. For most of the Antaresia Species it is not a problem as long as they are of similar size, age, and species. Diamonds, Green Tree pythons, Murray Darlings, and Coastal pythons have also been known to co-habitate happily. This is in no way a guarantee that things won’t go wrong between these species. There are always risks involved in keeping pythons together there are many story’s of pythons turning on cage mates and eating them. Keeping males together may also cause them to fight, and do damage to one another or kill each other. If you do choose to keep pythons together remember to feed them separately and clean them before putting them back into the same enclosure. If feed together they can start eating the same prey, and one may eat the other, it comes down to who gets their jaws over the top of the other first, and they will just continue to eat the other python. Don’t feed your pythons together.

[top]Can I use real plants in my enclosure?

Real tree limbs and rocks make good features and are good for your pythons climb on. They also provide abrasive surfaces to shed against and provide places to sleep, bask, and hide. Things like these need to be treated. Rocks can be baked in an oven (for a short time! Too long and it may explode). This is done to kill ticks, viruses, and bacteria found on these item. You can also treat them with a product known as F10 which is a designed product to treat bird and reptile items. If this is unavailable then a 1/10 mix of bleach can be used, and then rinsed clean with water. Try to find out if the plant could be toxic before putting if in with your much loved reptile. Also be aware that plants require a UVA light and have many thousands of micro-organisms in the soil keeping them alive, any one of which could cause serious problems for your python.

[top]What kind of diseases can my snake get?

There are 3 major diseases that are causing concern amongst the herp community they are OPMV, IBD and Diamond Python Syndrome. Here is a brief description of the symptoms would be. Respiratory problems laying on side/back panting having problems breathing, starry eyed look and convulsions. This is a deadly and highly contagious disease; any python found with these symptoms should be quarantined, taken to a vet and reported. Pneumonia is a more common problem amongst beginner reptile keepers. It is caused by stress, cold, and high humidity. Respiratory problems can also occur and are diagnosed by a clicking or wheezing noise whilst breathing. They will also try to take the weight off of their lungs by lying on their sides, or backs. Ticks and mites also can harm your pythons and would show up between their scales. A regular check of your python should find most ticks and mites. Ticks and mite’s can be easily treated using “Top Of Descent” (TOD)
This is from the TOD web site
Directions For Use
-Remove water bowl/tub from the enclosure before spray, clean it and leave it out for 24 hours
-Remove the reptile from the enclosure
-Spray the interior of the enclosure to form enough fume in the enclosure
-Suggest spray 2-3 seconds for a standard 2 x 3 foot size enclosure
-Leave the enclosure closed for 10-15 minutes, and then return the reptile
-After 24 hours, return the water bowl/tub to the enclosure
-After another 48 hours, clean out enclosure and destroy any substrate (it helps remove mite eggs)
-Spray the enclosure surrounding area as well
-Do not rinse the enclosure and the reptile after spray
-Re-spray the enclosure about seven days later after first application, a third application might be necessary depending on the infestation
Other Tips
-After treating the reptile and the enclosure, spray a line around the enclosure to create a barrier
-Frequently (every day or two) spray around the enclosure to keep the barrier working during treatment
-Suggest use paper as bedding during treatment so that changing bedding is easier

Diamond python Syndrome is a disease we know little about, the python begins to lose the ability to move properly, and becomes 'Floppy'.
If your python begins to show ANY of these symptoms, immediately take them to a vet, and ask their advice on quarantine and treatment.

[top]What kind of substrate should I use?

There are many different flooring substrates available. Here are a few of the Pros and cons of some of the more common types available.
  • Astroturf: Although it is good looking, it can be very sharp, and has the ability to cut the cloaca causing problems for your python. It also tends to come apart over time when regularly washed. Advised to have 2 or more precut squares for cleaning.
  • Newspaper: A very cheap and easy substrate, easy to replace, lacks in the looks department. Good for large numbers of enclosures. Also doubles as a good hide. However does not absorb or lessen the smell.
  • Chip Bark: Looks good but tends to smell. Pythons may also consume some of the bark which can give them a splinter in the gut or cloaca.
  • Gravel: Looks good easy to clean, can be eaten by your python though and block their digestive system. Does not absorb liquid waste
  • Marine Carpet: Looks good, needs a bit of a scrub to get clean, but most users of marine carpet switch a new carpet for the old. Highly recommended, but can be costly.
  • Breeder’s Choice/Kitty Litter: Okay looking, very easy to clean and replace. The paper absorbs everything and should do no harm to the python if swallowed. However tends to suck moisture out of he air and can cause serious shedding problems. Reports of plastic and even metal paper clips in bags surface from time to time so be weary.
  • Shredded coconut shell: Looks great environmentally friendly and holds a little moisture just like dirt. If consumed passes easily through but can be time consuming to make up and needs to have boiling water added to kill micro-organisms. Purchased in bricks from Bunnings (ensure to buy one without any added fertilisers, etc.) easy to spot clean. Great plus is it helps with the smell
  • Sand: Looks good easy to spot clean but can cause bacterial growth if all of the faecal material is not removed properly. Also it is not recommended to keep non-desert species (i.e. not naturally found on sand) on sand as it has been known to cause blockages or impaction in the gut a serious problem.

[top]What are some good books to get started with?

  1. The Keeping Series
  2. What’s Wrong With My Snake
  3. Care of Australian Reptiles In Captivity

[top]Will my snake bite me?

Yes if you handle your snake particularly a Hatchie you may get bitten it is a defensive mechanism and obviously the smaller the snake the more easily it will get scared best ways to avoid this as much as possible is to handle them regularly, move slowly, and use tongs when feeding

[top]Does a python bite hurt?

Yes and no. Hatchies and yearlings generally don’t hurt and, until you get to the yearling stage, almost never draw blood. However, once you get into the larger-sized pythons, it will hurt and will bleed.

[top]How big a food item should I feed my new snake and how often?

General rule of thumb is not to feed any item that is fatter than the largest part of your snake (slightly larger is ok)it is best to feed your snake once every 5-7 days when they are younger however once they start to get larger you can fed 1 large item per fortnight or even month.

[top]My snake is currently eating mice but won’t take rats what should I do?

A lot of different methods for this you can try scenting it with a mouse skink or house gecko (rubbing it all over the rat) before feeding, Defrost it in water you just used to defrost a mouse in, Feed a small mouse then follow it straight up with the rat, as long as it is taking mice you have plenty of time to try different methods.

[top]What are hypos, Albinos, Amery’s, ect ect?/

These are various kinds of genetic mutations concerning colour a hypo has reduced black pigment while an albino has no black pigment, anerys have no red pigment and so on and so on if the snake you are looking at is a “het” it means it carry’s 1 of those or other genetic trait even if it snit showing yet by breeding this het with another het will produce a mixture of hets pure and normal offspring.

[top]How often should my snake poo and shed?

Generally with younger pythons they should be defecating a few days after every feed provided your feeding large enough food items and shedding will occur about every 4 weeks once again provided its being fed the right sized food, however when your snake gets larger this will tend to slow down somewhat.

[top]What do I do with mouldy eggs?

Light dusting of tinea powder works well, some people use a diluted solution of f10 400/1 applied with a cotton tip.

[h="1"]Best kind of lights to use for night viewing?[/h]
You have a few options I for one use an infra-red heat bulb which allows me to see in of a night time however if you have heating and daytime lighting sorted you can use party lights (must be cultured glass not painted) blue, red, purple are all good colors to choose, other than that neon’s or led strips of those colors mentioned will work also/

[top]Best age to start breeding my pythons?

Generally around 3yrs old is best for them however people have bred succesfully with younger pythons.

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