Black Headed Python Tips? - First Snake

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Haylen

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So, I just got myself my first snake, he's a Northern Territory Black Headed Python, about a year old and around 90cm long. I've only had him for 2 weeks and he feeds well so far and is getting used to being handled. I don't have any real concerns, I am more just after some husbandry tips or advice on keeping him happy.
His name is Leeroy.
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-Cork chips on top of sheets of news paper as substrate.

-Heat cord sandwiched between tiles for a heat source.

-I take him out in the sun when ever I can, usually twice a day for 5-10 minutes.

-I feed him a weaner rat, once a week on the same day (rat size = 1 - 1.5x thickest part of him). I leave him alone for 48 hours afterwards. He pooped 5 days after his last rat, it didn't seem to have the really bad smell I was warned about and it was all brown from what I saw, no pelt or bone parts.

-Humidity stays around 50-65% in the tank, I had to fix an exhaust fan to the back vent and change to a dryer substrate (cork chips), previously used coconut bark to achieve lower than 70% humidity on average.

-Hot side is around 30-33°C but, on the tiles it can go over 40°C at which point I turn the heat cord off, I am saving up for a thermostat to control the heat cord, the cool side sits around 27-31°C. It is summer at the moment, so it's pretty hot in Queensland. I use an infrared temp gun to test temps in different parts of the enclosure and a digital hygrometer that I got from the pet shop for humidity.

-Very strong room lighting from a large window, no in tank lighting unfortunately, (no Heat lamp or UVB) it has a solid wooden top, will cut holes for lights if necessary.

-Hides on either side of his tank, some PVC pipe, a pronged log and a ramekin for water dish
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I don't see him basking on the heat source often, have only ever seen him use it at night for short periods of time, he spends pretty much all day sleeping in a hide and then gets really active at night, trying to escape it looks like.
He stays in his hide more after being fed, even at night time. I assume this is normal?
He doesn't burrow in this substrate, he occasionally did it in the coconut bark.
I have seen him drink water a few times.
He handles well, the breeder said he hadn't been handled much before I got him. He hasn't bitten me (yet) and has only striked at me a few times when I let him loose in the grass and I guess he didn't wanna go back to his tank, I learned that he can jump pretty high.

I'm trying my best to keep him happy, but as he is a reptile he doesn't really tell me if I am doing a good job or not and I want my little mate to live a long and healthy life.


Be gentle with me, I'm new to owning reptiles...
Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated, thanks.
 

Pauls_Pythons

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Welcome to the wonderland of BHP's.
I started with my 1st 5 years ago and have 19 adults/sub adults now. (Plus this seasons hatchlings)
Couple of things............
UV is not needed. At all.
Humidity I don't worry about though 70% probably was a bit high, the substrate change was probably sufficient.
I use newspaper, kitty litter or shredded paper on mine depending on a few factors but substrate is always whatever works for the keeper and the snake.
Outside time is up to you but not needed as much as you are giving. Debatable if there is actually any benefit at all other than activity/exercise.
Thermostat on your set up is critical but you already know that.
Don't over feed or feed larger fatty foods as your animal grows. Better more small food items rather than larger food items as adults & sub adults. Many BHP's suffer an early death/baron breeding because of being overweight.
Yes it's normal for them to hide away after eating.
Some burrow/some don't. I see the behavior from males more than females but have no idea why.
Most are not aggressive but have a huge feeding response as adults. I find it better not to get food out of the freezer until I finish cleaning or I suffer the consequences.

Hope this helps a bit.
 

Haylen

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Thanks for your reply!
Very helpful indeed!
I am aware that BHP are prone to obesity as they eat reptiles in the wild which are less fatty than mammals (i think), I bought a pack of 5 weaner rats which don't seem to be too big for him, cant even see a lump in him after hes eaten one. After those 5 are gone I was considering changing to quails, as I have been told they are less fatty than rodents, would you say quails are a good idea or bad idea?
Is feeding him every 7 days too much?
A thermostat will be $75 so I will get one asap for the heat cord.
I could just get him out once a day instead of twice haha...
Do I need to get a heat lamp or is my home made "heat pad" enough?
 

Pauls_Pythons

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I feed my females every week and males every 2 weeks. From yearlings through to adult.
That said I do feed females smaller leaner rats so through to 3 years old or so I only feed 125g rats. 3 years on I feed them 150-175g rats.
Yearlings are on 'size appropriate food'. It sounds like yours could do with something a bit bigger though.
Quail will be leaner but expect a big clean up......birds seem to give them the runs! Some will eat small fish....again good lean food. Some keepers use chicken legs/necks etc but I haven't done that myself.

Your heating so long as the temp is ok should be fine but i dont like belly heating at all but thats just my preference and not an indication of the application.
I keep mine 38-41 hot side 20-25 cool side.
 
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