burmese python, information and care
this is my first care sheet, and although it seems to be in order, i may have missed somthing out, or made mistakes etc so if i have made any mistakes etc, please PM me and say, so i can edit it. thankyou
Care sheet for Burmese pythons.
Choosing your snake. Firstly and foremost, Burmese pythons are not a recommended for most people to have as a pet. This species will grow to around 15 foot or more, will weigh 10stone or more, and is capable of killing adult humans. It is also an expensive snake species to own, and is very demanding. To have a tame snake, daily handling is a necessity, and as an adult, it may pass more than 2 stone in weight of excrement, very smelly excrement.
If you have experience with other snakes, can accommodate a huge snake, and have the time and resources that a Burmese python will require the there a few snakes that are more rewarding.
What is it?
A Burmese python is a huge snake from the family pythonidae, or pythons. They are large bodied, and have "pits" on their face than are sensitive to heat.
What does it look like?
Naturally Burmese pythons are brown, with black, green and tan markings, not unlike that of a giraffe. In captivity, various patterns or morphs have been bred in, which include albinos, tiger, green, labyrinth, granite and several others.
Where does it come from?
Burmese pythons originally come from the tropical rainforests of south East Asia. And Indonesia.
How big do they get?
HUGE. An adult female Burmese python will easily reach 16foot in length, but males tend to be smaller. The record for this species is 26foot.
How old will they live?
You can expect a Burmese python to live anything up to and over 20years in captivity.
The rest of this is split into sections, as below.
1, am I ready?
3, environmental requirements
6, notes and tips
7, disclaimer and copyright
1 am I ready.
Ask yourself these questions before considering a Burmese python as a pet.
--can I accommodate a snake that can reach 10 foot in its first year?
--do I have the time to handle this snake every day?
--do I have a reliable and trustworthy person to look after the snake while I am on holiday/business etc?
--can you feed previously frozen rodents to a snake?
--can you source a constant supply of frozen rodents, or varying sizes?
--can I rely on another person to help with handling, everyday, and cleaning, feeding and maintenance.
--can I rely on a third person when the snake reaches 15 foot.
If you answered yes to all of these questions, please read on.
If you answered no to any of these questions, please reconsider, and think about a more manageable snake species.
Burmese pythons hatch at around 1 1/2, to 2 1/2 feet long, and grow quickly. I recommend putting a young snake into an appropriate sized enclosure and upgrading when necessary. For a hatchling a 3x1x1 is minimum size, and the snake will quickly outgrow this. I would recommend a 4x2x2foot, vivarium, and at around 6 foot in length, I would upgrade to a 6x4x2, or 6x4x4. This size should be big enough for the snakeís whole life. However some large specimens may require 8 foot in length.
The vivarium should be of sound construction, and with adequate ventilation. I would recommend a wooden vivarium, with glass panels at the front, to conserve heat and to allow the snake to feel more secure. I briefly kept my Burmese python in a [drained] fish tank, with substrate and hides, but she showed signs of stress immediately, and in 2 days I had to put her into a vivarium. I only intended to leave her there for a week, but that would have been too much.
The minimum requirements in the vivarium are lighting, heating, substrate, hides, and water. I believe that snakes show more natural behaviour in decorated vivariums, made to look like the wild, but other keepers prefer to keep the vivarium "sterile".
There are many choices with regards to substrate, and you will need to decide which is best for you. Burmese pythons originally come from Indonesian Asian rainforests, the substrate there is soil, bark, moss and leaves, a very aesthetically pleasing combination. For my Burmese python, I tend to use orchid bark, with some moss on top and a few autumn leaves. This looks very nice in my opinion, and holds humidity well.
The easiest substrates to use are defiantly paper based. Newspaper, kitchen towel or butchers paper are good candidates, of those the best is kitchen towel, because it absorbs any liquid waste the best. All of those are easy to change, and keep clean.
Aspen shavings are good for young snakes, but larger snakes (young adults, and above) can sometimes get pieces stuck beneath their scales, or in their pits/ nostrils, so it is not recommended.
Cedar should be avoided at all cost as this is highly toxic and can kill reptiles.
Most snakes are naturally secretive, so there needs to be hides available, for the snakes well being. For small snakes, half pieces of bark, cut out tree stumps, upturned flower pots, with a hole, or commercially available reptile hides work well. For adults you will need to be more creative, a good idea I recently heard was an upturned plastic dogís bed. Alternatives would be a dustbin, with a hole, or a purpose built wooden hide.
Hides, as said are an important necessity in the vivarium. There needs to be at least three hides, one in the hot and cold ends (see temperature in environmental requirements) and another in the middle. This will allow the snake to correctly regulate its temperature, while in the security of a hide. A long hide, such as a 3foot piece of bark, or half carpet tube/gutter will allow thermoregulation without the need of coming out into the open, so will benefit a nervous, or stressed snake.
Decor in the vivarium can be as simple, or as imaginative as you like. In a "sterile" setup, there is no need for any decor. But in a natural setup, it can make the vivarium beautiful.
Climbing branches are a good idea, as young snakes in particular like to climb. Depending on the setup, a variety of climbing items can be used. PVC pipes, reptile vines, or real branches, along with the moulded commercial type.
If you decide to use branches from a local forest, before using them it is a good idea to strip all bark, and soak it in bleach, to remove all nastys. If it is a large branch, it can be placed in a bath of 5% bleach solution for 24 hours, then rinsed repeatedly until there is no smell of bleach present. For smaller branches, the same method can be used in a bucket, or they can be baked in an electric oven. To bake place the branches on a tray, and cook for 30-60 minutes at 150-200*c.
Live plants can be very attractive, but most will not survive the humidity, and temperature. Those that can are likely to be crushed by the heavy bodied snake.
Plastic is therefore the best alternative. Reptile plants are readily availably, or commercial plants in Wilkinson or similar stores do an equally pleasing job. If using plants not specifically designed for reptiles, remember to wash beforehand. I put them in the washing machine with a non-bio detergent, and some bleach on a wool wash (other washes are a little to violent) at 40*C, and then hang to drip dry. Do not spin.
3, environmental requirements.
The vivarium requirements are in the previous chapter, and although equally important this chapter is about the minimum requirements for a happy, healthy snake.
The temperature is very important, and needs to be maintained carefully. snakes, like other reptiles, are ecothermic, or coldblooded. This means that unlike us, they do not produce their own heat, and need to rely on the warmth of the environment to regulate their temperature. Incorrect temperatures can make a snake ill, refuse food/regurgitate, cause stress, and thus aggression, and in some case it can lead to death.
All temperatures should be controlled by a thermostat, and should be monitored by separate thermometers. I recommend a habistat dimming thermostat, or the microclimate dimming thermostat. They are very similar, and will largely depend on what your supplier has in stock, or to order.
The thermostat's probe should be placed into the vivarium, the exact location is subject of debate to hobbyists, and in honesty doesnít matter as long as the thermostat is set appropriately. This means if you place it in the hot end, set the stat to the max temperature that you want, and if it is in the cold end set the stat to the minimum temperature needed.
The temperatures best for Burmese pythons are 80*F for the cold end, and around 90*F for the basking spot. At night this temperature should be allowed to drop to an all round temperature of 75-80*F.
To create this temperature gradient, a basking area needs to be created. This can be done with either bulbs, or ceramic heat emitters. ALL HEAT SOURCES MUST BE GAURDED AT ALL TIMES. I cannot stress that enough. A Burmese python can lift its body more that 6feet off the ground when fully grown, so can reach any mounted heat source. Donít take the risk.
Heat mats can also be used, but because of the large amount of liquids in the excrement of large snakes, they should be either mounted on the wall of the vivarium, or under the floor, to avoid the risk of electrocution, if the seal should break.
It is considered that snakes do not get a benefit from UVA/B lighting, and as such does not need to be provided. A supplemental light cycle of 12/12 is a good idea, to allow the snake to get into a regular routine, with regard to day and night. This can be provided by a normal fluorescent tubes, or incandescent bulbs.
Burmese pythons originate from the Asian forests, and in the forest humidity is high. The vivarium should be kept at around 60%, but when shedding they should be kept at 70-80% to aid in the process.
Fresh water should be readily available and cleaned daily, unless a filter is employed. Young snakes can make use of a large dogís bowl, where large snakes will need a large box, or even a babyís bath. if they out grow the biggest container you can provide, then a large container of water should be offered for drinking, and the python should be offered a bath in your bath tub, when in shed.
Burmese pythons eat a variety of mammals, and birds, and can eat this in captivity. The best food is frozen, as this is easily obtainable, and safe for the snake. Freezing will kill any nasties on/in the prey item, and allows you to keep a stock of food rather than continual trips to the shop.
A hatchling Burmese python will eat a medium mouse, or a small rat. As the snake grows so does the food. Larger snakes can eat adult rats, then rabbits, and should it need to, piglets, lambs and goat kids are the next size up. Chickens and other birds can also be fed occasionally, but should not be the staple of the diet, because they lack the nutrition found in mammals.
Live food should never be fed. this is stressful on the prey item, and can lead to serious injury, or death of the snake, and is not necessary on this species, as 99% will readily take frozen, and the few that donít can be tempted with a prekilled, and then weaned onto frozen. If the snake refuses rodents, then offer a bird. There are other techniques available also that eradicate the need for live food.
A snake should be left for at least one feed when obtained to allow it to settle. After it has eaten, wait two days, and then gently stroke the snake on its back, careful to avoid the head. If the snake goes to hide, or shows other sins of stress (hissing, striking) then leave for an hour, and try again. If it continues to show signs of stress for three tries, leave overnight to the next day, and try again. When you have stroked it for 5 minutes without a response, or have tried for 3/4days, gently pick the snake up. With hatchling scoop it with one hand under the body, and the other holding the head or tail or other parts that hang off, and let it move through your hands. If it is a large snake than gently, but firmly grip it behind the head, and support the body with your other hand, and arm. Then let the snake move through your hands, so he feels comfortable.
a general rule for snakes, is one person per 5 foot of snake so for a snake less than 5 foot, one person, if it is between 5-10foot,, two would be recommended, three for a 10-15, and if you are luck/unlucky enough to get a 15-20 or even a 20foot+ snake, four or 5 people are required
6, notes and tips.
When buying a snake, ensure that it is captive bred. This is much safer than wild caught, or captive farmed.
When feeding a large snake, I place mine in a blue tub, and thatís the only place she gets food. Although it is disinfected between feeds, she knows when sheís put in the tub, food follows. This will prevent feeding responses when handling.
Always have a snake hook. This is a very useful tool, and can be used should the snake become aggressive.
Find your local reptile vet; look for one with a good reputation.
Have some basic first aid on hand, for minor wounds, it should include some wound cleaner, (iodine, hibiscus, or a specialist brand), a bandage, some tweezers, a syringe (for feeding/fluids).
Make plans for a blackout/power cut, should one occur. Have hot water bottles on standby, and if you donít have a gas stove, get a camping stove to warm the water. Alternatively, get a generator to power the electrics.
Join an online forum, there are several around, and all offer free advice from experienced keepers.
Quarantine all animals before introducing.
7, disclaimer, and copyright.
This is my personal advice, and should be taken as a keepers, methods, and not the "correct" way. All of my pets are healthy, but I am in no way liable should this contain any incorrect advice.
This is copyright (c) 2007 Danny Turrant, please do not reproduce in part of full without permission. Permission can be obtained by emailing me on [email protected] or via PM on this forum. Also any suggestions or comments are welcome to the above address'.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, may all or your reptiles be healthy and long lived.
EDITED Pm'd you
cheers snakelover, a good point. it wont let me edit at the mo, but will do later.
the burmese python does not need a 4foot high viv, this is what i will use in the future, but is not necissary. they would also be happy in a 3 foot depth, but i reccomend 4 foot for extra space. this is a matter of preference though.
very good guide...very few focus on the more larger snakes above boa size i find
I WENT TO THE GYM TODAY AND TRIED THIS NEW MACHINE AND WAS ON IT FOR HOURS UNTIL I WAS SICK..DID EVERYTHING..MARS,TWIX,SNICKERS..THE LOT
notice that it states that i think that one person is needed per 5 foot of snake. i could lift a 10-15' burm, and probably a 20' (with a struggle) and i could deffinatly get it out of the viv, etc, the other 1,2,3 or 4 people are there to prise it off, if it ever gets nasty!
thats why theres 4 one to hold the head, and 3 to drag it off!
if its smaller, it wont be as strong so will need less people to pull the bugger off.
it is a very real threat that all keepers of large constictors NEED to concider before purchase. even a 10' boa can do damage, an would need 2 people, or one extremaly strong person to handle safely.
if my burm did go nasty, i would get a big box, or dustbin, and get myself and a few others to put it in their when the time for mantinance arrives. i'd get the head, (with hook if necassary) and the others can over power the body, or at least match the strength, and i'd focas all my efforts on the head. when its in the bin, the latches are locked. putting it back would be simple, in theory, tip it out of the bin, and into the viv. (IN THEORY!)
Last edited by darkdan99; 14-02-2007 at 01:17 AM..
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