Pet Pacific


[top]Overview

Adults usually reach 1.4 to 2.1 metres (4.5 to 7 feet) in length, with females usually larger than males. The colour pattern can vary from tan and black to bright yellow and jet black. Most specimens have white bellies although some can be yellow. These snakes are semi-arboreal and their natural habitat is monsoon jungle. Captive specimens have lived for 20-30 years and feed readily on mice, sometimes taking rats or small chicks, depending on the specimen in question.

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[top]Range and Habitat

The typical locality given is "Ravenshoe", on the Atherton Tableland, North Queensland.

The jungle python occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from the rainforests of northeastern Queensland (Morelia spilota cheynei) through the River Red Gum/Riverbox woodlands of the Murray and Darling Rivers (Morelia spilota metcalfei), to the arid, tree-less islands of Nuyts Archipelago off the South Australian west coast (Morelia spilota imbricata). Often found near human habitation where they perform a useful service by eating rats and other vermin. Morelia spilota spilota is even know to occur in areas that receive snowfall. Although jungle pythons are tree snakes, they do not completely rely on trees and are capable of moving around elsewhere on the ground.

[top]Diet and Feeding

Diet includes mainly mammals and birds but can also include lizards and frogs.
Jungle pythons are known to be picky about their food, with some prefering mice instead of rats. Pythons that are proving difficult to make the switch from mice to rats can usually addressed by defrosting a mouse and a rat in the same container, getting the mouse scent all over the rat and offering then offering the rat as food, however this may take some persistance. To prevent this problem to begin with, it is advisable to start jungle pythons on rats as soon as possible while they are younger to get them used to that type of food, this will save the keeper from feeding several mice per feeding instead of a single rat.

[top]Reproduction



[top]Captivity

Very common in captivity. This species generally makes a great pet however, some locality types of jungle python (Palmerston) are generally known to be more aggressive than other varieties such as the Atherton or Tully pythons, and as such are generally better suited as display animals rather than pets, keep in mind this is only a generalisation and does not cover the individual temperament of the snake or its upbringing. Juveniles of this species are also known to be nippy, with temperament becoming more good to excellent once appropriately handled and more mature.


Ideal Captivity Conditions
Temperature & Humidity
30*-32*C (88*-90*F) basking area, daytime ambient should not drop below 26*C (80*F) with nightime ambient not below 22*C (72*F).
Heating is considered to be best when provided from an overhead heating source, as the python is semi-aboreal, however, no issues have been encountered when properly utilising adequate substrate heaters.

Humidity is usually fine at normal ambient air temps (10%) however during shedding, this should be increased to around 40-60% when the snake is coming up to shedding. A water bowl big enough for the python to soak in when coming into shedding is ideal.

Enclosure:
These snakes are known to be escape artists so due care must be taken to ensure that all possible escape routes are identified and action is taken to prevent escape.
Young specimens are best kept in small enclosures/containters. Larger snakes should be kept in an enclosure that will allow them to spend adequate time on the ground as well as climbs, suspended hides and other climbable obstacles which will allow the snake to excercise and remain active. An enclosure 1200hx600lx600d mm or larger will be fine for an average sized adult or larger.
Enclosures around light fittings are necessary to prevent burns and injury to the snake by wrapping itself around a globe or heating element.



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