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Reticulated Python Care Sheet

Scientific Facts

Common Name:Reticulated python
Scientific Name:Python reticulatus
Life Span:12 to 20 years (in captivity)
Size:10 to 20 feet
Habitat:Bodies of water near woodlands and rainforests
Country of Origin:South and Southeast Asia

Physical Characteristics

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The reticulated pythons are among the biggest snakes living on earth. The largest reticulated python was 32 ft. long and weighed 350 lbs. That is not the usual case, though. On average, adult reticulated pythons reach the length of 10-20 ft. However, those living in the woods tend to be smaller than the “mainland” species. “Dwarf” reticulated pythons max out at 10-20 ft. Also, there are some species called “super dwarf” pythons that are only 6-8 ft. long. 

Reticulated pythons have complex and geometric patterns on their skin, which come in different colors. These patterns are mostly irregularly diamond-shaped markings on their backs. These patterns are typically lined with smaller marks with light centers. These markings are giving the reticulated pythons a netlike pattern. On their heads, there’s a line that runs from their eyes up to their jaws. 

Reticulated pythons are very carnivorous. Their teeth are sharp and curved to the back of their mouth. These snakes seem to have 100 teeth that are capable enough of grabbing the prey. However, reticulated pythons don’t kill their prey with venom or any other venomous substance. Instead, they wrap themselves tightly to the animal. This will stop the animal from breathing and its heart from pumping up the blood. 

Sooner, the prey dies, and that is only when the reticulated pythons will swallow it whole. These snakes have a slow metabolism, so they can go on and survive without food for weeks. They will eat only when their last meal has been fully digested. 

Morphs

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The morphs of reticulated pythons are popular mainly due to their cute skin markings and vibrant colors. You can’t find these species in the forest, but you may get them from a professional breeder. In the past few years, there are now around 200 morphs of reticulated pythons created. The following are the most popular but rare reticulated python morphs:

  • Albino Tiger Super Sunfire
  • Albino Motley Tiger Sunfire
  • Anery Tiger
  • Black Golden Child
  • Marble
  • Platinum Sunfire Genetics Stripe
  • Platinum Avery Golden Child
  • Platinum Sunfire Phantom
  • Renick Ghost
  • Super Tiger Reticulated
  • Tribal

Here are 3 of the most common morphs of reticulated pythons

Dwarf

These are a recent breed which shows up within the breeding industry. Most breeders create this species and offer the resulting snakes for sale. Dwarf reticulated pythons are small enough and easy to handle, considering that their length is less likely to reach 10 feet. 

Dwarf pythons are just 6-8 ft. long only if the dwarf blood is dominating in their bloodstream. If the percentage of this blood is not at the expected level, then these snakes will grow longer and reach the average length of ordinary reticulated pythons. 

If you plan to keep dwarf reticulated pythons, make sure your budget is big enough. The more dominant the dwarf blood in their veins, the more expensive these snakes will be. 

Tiger & Super Tiger

This morph comes with a remarkable pattern located in the mid-dorsal region. It has some stripe markings on their bodies. These two morphs of reticulated pythons don’t have the black stripe on their heads, unlike the ordinary reticulated pythons. Also, they have white marks on their sides, which look bigger and elongated. Super Tiger reticulated pythons have tan and yellowish markings all over the body and slim black stripes on the top. 

Albino

This reticulated python morph is among the world’s prettiest pythons. It is also the most requested morph that most people search for. This morph is available in 3 different colors: white, purple, and lavender. Since these reticulated pythons lack the pigmentation on their skin, which should give them a darker color, they also have pink eyes.

Life Span

If they live in the woods, the reticulated pythons often last for 23 years. They can live a bit longer for 25 to 29 years. The reticulated pythons are now becoming a popular option for reptile pets. These snakes are big, so it can be hard to provide them more space. However, captive reticulated pythons will live longer if they enjoy a stable food supply and a well-maintained environment within a controlled setting. 

Records say the reticulated python with known longest lifespan had lived for up to 32 years. However, the reticulated pythons living in the forest often struggle in finding food and environmental security, which are possible reasons for their shorter lifespan. Records are also showing that there was a reticulated python that lived for up to 23 years. 

Habitat

The reticulated pythons are more common in areas close to watercourses in woodlands and rainforests. The little snakes often spend their time in the shrubs and trees, while the adults prefer to be on the ground mainly due to their weight.

When the day is over, these snakes will return to the caves and rock crevices after having their meals. The reticulated pythons are active at night. They tend to be aggressive. When something is threatening them, these snakes will elevate their heads and hiss loudly. These are their common defensive moves. If the predator doesn’t leave them alone, these snakes will strike the target several times. 

Behaviors

The reticulated pythons are great swimmers, but they can also travel far out of the water when hunting. These snakes can’t move fast, considering their weight. That is okay because they are so meticulous. Their slow moves allow them to wander around a big area in just one day. They are so aggressive that they quickly coil up if they feel threatened. 

Since the reticulated pythons are big snakes, you will not see them climbing up in most cases (unless they are still young and small). They can climb, especially when they are still young. They eventually stop doing it as they grow heavier.

In many cases, the reticulated pythons hang around the river, swamp, or any other bodies of water. They do because they think of these areas as a good hunting location. They wait for other animals that may drink from these locations and attack them. 

Also, these snakes are not sociable. They prefer being on their own. These snakes will look for companions only during the breeding season. The reticulated pythons show aggressiveness, not only when there’s a threat as they do the same thing when being fed. However, these snakes are never confrontational. They try to escape from their enemies if they can and defend themselves only when they can’t.

Reproduction

The reticulated pythons are sexually mature by the age of 2 to 5. The male snakes breed at 7-9 ft. long. The female reticulated pythons become receptive once they become 11 ft. long. Breeding often occurs between September and March. Females can lay up to 80 eggs all at once. Her eggs are white and with a soft and leathery shell. The female snakes will take care of their eggs. They wrap their bodies all over the eggs until the perfect time for hatching. You may call this behavior as brooding, which is important in keeping the eggs under the ideal temperature. Brooding will protect the eggs against extremely high and low temperatures. 

The eggs should stay at a temperature of 89 degrees Fahrenheit or a bit lower than that throughout the incubation time. To achieve it, the female reticulated pythons will “shiver” that leads to muscle contractions. With this, they can effectively increase and maintain the temperature of their eggs. The snakes will keep on doing it for around 85 days. 

When the eggs hatch, the babies will be in charge of themselves. They have to feed themselves and find a perfect place to hide and keep safe from predators. In this situation, they need to use their coloration and those reticulated patterns all over their skin in protecting themselves against predators while hunting for food. Unfortunately, many of the hatchlings end up getting killed and ingested by big animals. 

Communication & Perception

Like other snakes, the reticulated pythons can’t hear the airborne noises. Also, they are blessed to have immovable eyelids. Therefore, these snakes need to depend on their tongue and skin in finding both their prey and predators. 

Aside from that, the reticulated pythons don’t have ears. Instead, they have the ossicle organ known as columella that allows them to detect and feel the vibrations around them. Since they don’t have ears, these snakes, including other pythons, are using physical movements so that he can create vibrations to communicate with each other. 

The reticulated pythons use vibrations in initiating mating or to warn other snakes of the probable territorial domination. Though these snakes have nasal cavities, they use their forked tongue in flicking air particles to their vomeronasal organ that sits on the upper part of their mouth. 

These snakes communicate with each other with the help of the pheromones that they apply to the ground. Pheromones let the snakes recognize the gender, age, and reproductive success of a snake. This is true when females are around as the reticulated pythons fight against each other to create dominance and entice the female snakes to mate. 

Predators

Predation involving these snakes is almost impossible, mainly because of the size of these snakes. However, the eggs and hatchlings serve as prey to some animals like eagles, hawks, herons, and small mammals. Adult reticulated pythons are less likely to be killed by other animals, except for bigger creatures like crocodiles. 

The adult snakes are more likely to be killed if they stay close to the edges of the rivers or swamps where the crocodiles may be waiting for food. The only thing they can do as a defense when attacked by crocodiles is their strong ability to constrict that can kill any animal in just 3-4 minutes. 

Their Role in the Ecosystem

The reticulated pythons play a big role in controlling the population of harmful rodents in areas near the grasslands and farmlands. The feces of these snakes have sporocysts that lead to the development of cysts in most rodent species, especially those who live in the tropical islands in Western Malaysia and Singapore. These lumps will develop in the esophagus and larynx of the rats, which causes extreme pain and difficulty in breathing and water and food intake. On the other hand, no parasites were found living in the body of a reticulated python.

Positive Importance on Humans

The reticulated pythons are among the most hunted snakes all over the world. With their big size, people often hunt for these snakes, kill them, and sell their skin internationally. Also, the hunters are selling their meats. Others are keeping alive and reserved for the commercial pet trade as the demand for exotic pets has grown tremendously throughout the past few years. Likewise, these snakes are a great help to people as they hunt and eat tiny rodents living close to farmlands. They help in preventing these rats from damaging the crops. 

Negative Importance on Humans

On the other hand, the reticulated pythons can ingest more food in just one feeding, making them dangerous to primates and mammals. Though it’s not a common case, these snakes also tend to attack and ingest humans. The snakes are using their bodies in constricting and killing the prey. 

In the Philippines, indigenous people called Agta were competing with these snakes for predation and food. These people are also killing these snakes for food. From 1934 until 1974, there were 6 reported fatal attacks on people involving the reticulated pythons. 

Among those indigenous people from the Philippines, 26% of the adult males said they survived predation attacks by these snakes. Though the reticulated pythons are capable of killing humans, the communities living in the wild, including the Agta, continued hunting for pythons while keeping themselves protected against these animals. 

Human fatalities involving the aggressive reticulated pythons outside the woods are so rare. However, there was a reported incident involving a 21-month old baby who was found lifeless in his crib after the captive reticulated python successfully escaped its enclosure. The corpse had many puncture wounds made by the snake. 

Distribution

The reticulated pythons are native to Southeast Asia. They are more common on the islands, mainly due to their needs for water. They are easy to find in the woodlands and rainforests. They wander but only in a short distance from the wild or in areas with bodies of water like lakes and streams.

These snakes have become a famous choice for reptile pet owners all over the world, which resulted in a wider distribution. These animals often escape from their keepers. In some cases, their owners set them free into the wild if they can’t manage them well at all. 

Diet

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The reticulated pythons are constrictors like other pythons. They don’t have venom, so they try killing their prey by constricting and squeezing them. The snakes coil tightly on the bodies of their victims and inhibit breathing. The prey will eventually die due to asphyxiation. That is when the reticulated pythons will start swallowing their food. 

Large snakes usually feast on birds and mammals. They can take bigger animals like wild boars and deer. They will swallow these animals completely, which will keep them full for several months. Their slow digestive system will work on these large items for a long time, allowing these snakes to survive a long period of food scarcity. 

However, the diet for reticulated pythons is a bit diverse. Aside from pigs and deer, they can also consume primates, rodents, and many more. They can even digest living things that may be as heavy as them or heavier than them. These snakes are great predators. They wait for the perfect time to attack. They attack when the prey seems helpless and is not capable of defending itself. 

The reticulated pythons can eat, not just their fellow wild animals. Domestic animals are also welcome. They are eager to take dogs, cats, and sheep. Therefore, it created extreme tension between humans and snakes. These animals learned to consume the pigs on the farms. 

These snakes are so food-oriented. They become too excited when it comes to food. Many of them are okay with live prey, but they can also consume frozen and softened prey or even freshly killed food. These snakes may not be willing to eat the frozen and softened food at first. That is normal, but don’t be discouraged. Offer this type of food to your pet occasionally. Eventually, the snake will accept the food. However, some reticulated pythons don’t switch to lifeless food. Some of them require live prey as the main and the only food source. 

When feeding a reticulated python, always remember that the food should be only one in every feeding time. Also, it needs to match the widest and thickest portion of your pet’s body. Frequent feeding can lead to faster growth, but overfeeding poses a multitude of possible health issues.

Tips for Feeding Your Reticulated Python Properly

Since the reticulated pythons can grow larger and be stronger as they age, you need the assistance of another person in feeding your pet. If that is impossible, then you can develop some ways to safely feed the snake without getting yourself, or the animal hurt. Here are some things that can help you:

  • Keep the prey item within the reach
  • If you’re keeping two or more reticulated pythons, feed them one by one. 
  • In cleaning the cage of the snake, do it with the snake hook, or any other hard barrier like a wooden board to separate you and the snake. 
  • Feed your pet with pre-killed prey because live food can be harmful to your pet. If you feed it with a big rabbit, then that animal may scratch and even bite your pet when introduced live. 
  • Larger pythons enjoy consuming fowl. They can eat whatever kind of fowl and whether it’s alive or pre-killed. 
  • Though they enjoy consuming chicken, still you should avoid feeding your pet with it. Chicken makes a python fat. Some keepers out there feed their pet with chicken as a way of getting them ready for breeding as these snakes don’t feed them for a short period. 

Always follow these tips in feeding a reticulated python as it becomes aggressive when being fed. The nature of the snake is not to intentionally hurt you, but feeding it in a wrong way or holding the food nearer to the snake’s mouth may cause harm to you. 

Bite and Danger to People

The reticulated pythons may bite, but this isn’t a major issue. The bite can be painful until it heals. Since these snakes are non-venomous, getting bitten by these snakes is never fatal. However, once your pet bites you, don’t leave the wound untreated. Leaving it so increases the risk of infection.

Beware of the reticulated python’s constricting tendencies. Since they constrict their food before consuming it, always ensure your safety when feeding your pet. At the same time, be sure you’re giving it the right kind of food. 

Temperament

The hatchlings can be anxious about being always around the big predatory animals and even humans. They may hiss and even strike people. However, with regular and gentle handling, the baby snakes finally become confident and comfortable when touched. 

Once acclimated, these snakes develop an aggressive feeding response. Meaning, they will expect food whenever you open their enclosure. Every keeper handles it differently, but the general rule is this: before reaching out to your pet with your hands, take time, and let the snake understand that it is not the time for feeding. 

You can use a roll of paper towel, which is safe for the teeth of your snake in case the animal bites it. Pet your snake by touching the top of its head. Wait until the snake moves away and no longer looks for a target. 

The reticulated pythons are generally interested in handling once they are out of the enclosure. If the snake is big, then you should seek help from an expert handler. Keep the snake’s head always pointed far from you and other people, which is more important when handling a quickly spooked animal.

Handling

Golden Reticulated Python

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The reticulated pythons are normally not sociable, but humans can turn them into great reptile pets with regular and proper handling. It does not happen overnight. The snakes need time. Let your pet learn through routine interaction. This will make the snake understand that it’s in good hands with you. Never force the snake to learn it right away, especially if your pet is wild-caught. Time, consideration, and patience are necessary for getting through this challenge. 

Captive-bred reticulated pythons are less likely to be aggressive when being handled. These snakes grew up with confidence and trust for their breeders. They settle very well in the established daily husbandry routine. 

As more and more people succeed in raising and breeding the reticulated pythons, these snakes are now available in different types and colors to choose from. Likewise, they often breed the snakes that have gentle dispositions – a characteristic that they can pass on to future generations. Some local reticulated pythons like the Sulawesi giants tend to be more anxious. So, choose your pet not just based on its appearance but pick the one with good dispositions. 

Young captive-bred snakes are easier to tame than hatchlings and adults. When you take the snake out of the enclosure, hold it with your hands, and let it crawl over your fingers. Spending more time with the young snake will help it adjust to your smell, touch, and company. It has to be a positive and consistent interaction, allowing yourself to become a part of your pet’s daily encounters. 

When handling your pet, let it crawl over your hands while showing its long tongue that flicks slowly. Handling time will help in building rapport and trust between you and the snake. 

Shedding

These snakes shed like other pythons. Young retics will shed every 4-6 weeks. Shedding is more often when the snake has been power fed, but it will happen less when you do the opposite. If the snake seems to struggle when shedding, then do the following:

  • Increase the level of humidity in the cage to 60%. 
  • Provide the snake with a wet hide at the start of shedding.
  • Offer a rough material in which the snake can rub its body against to induce shedding. A brick is a good example.
  • If the snake finds it hard to shed, then wash it with a pillowcase, washcloth, or any other similar material.
  • If your pet still struggles, bathe it in the bathtub. 

Common Health Issues Among Reticulated Pythons

Like other reptiles, the reticulated pythons are also susceptible to various diseases and other life-threatening issues. When you notice something weird to your pet, then do some sort of first aid or bring the animal right away to the nearest veterinary clinic. 

If your snake looks healthy, here are a few things that you should watch out for someday. Early detection of the disease will help prevent any possible complications. 

Parasites

Other captive snakes like your pet are susceptible to mites. They keep themselves attached to the body of your pet to collect blood by puncturing the snake’s skin. Aside from mites, your pet is also vulnerable to other parasites. 

When you notice these small insects on your pet, which can be white, black, or red, soak your pet in a hot bath a few hours to remove the mites. When the mites fell off, and your pet looks clean, your next step is the cleaning and sterilizing the enclosure. 

Respiratory Infections

Pneumonia is a common respiratory disease in the reticulated pythons. You can prevent it by ensuring there’s a temperature gradient inside the cage. This means one side of the cage must be cold while the other is cold. 

Some ways to determine if your pet is suffering from pneumonia is by listening to its breathing. If there is a wheezing sound as your pet breathes, then it could be a sign of pneumonia. Also, your pet might have pneumonia if it elevates its head to breathe. Foaming from the lower throat and mouth of your pet is also a sign, but it indicates a worse case of pneumonia. Contact a veterinarian as soon as possible if that is the case. 

IBD

This disease is extremely serious and fatal to your pet. IBD is more common to boa constrictors and pythons of all kinds. Snakes carry IBD, just like how humans carry HIV. The snake might begin to show signs over certain neurological issues like the so-called “stargazing”. The snake will twist its head and neck up and may even refuse to eat. The snake may eat, however, but will eventually vomit the food. 

Caging

The most crucial element of a reptile habitat is that it should safely contain and keep the snake. Tight-fitting racks and strong enclosures with locks is important. The baby reticulated pythons can be kept in the shoebox-sized enclosures or 10-gallon terrariums. Adult snakes can be kept in a cage that measures 2 ft. tall x 3 ft. wide x 6 ft. to 8 ft. long terrariums. Occasional bigger snakes might require a 3 ft. tall x 4 ft. wide x 10 ft. long cage. A custom-built enclosure must be made of sturdy and water-resistant materials, making it easy to clean. 

Using high-quality cleaning supplies is also a must for the sake of your snake’s health. Reptile hides are a great snake home product and asset for the reptiles that are more ideal for young snakes. Provide your pet with a tight-fitting hide but with a big entry hole so that your pet can easily get in and out of the hide whenever it wants to. 

Substrate

You can use printed newspaper as a substrate for your pet’s enclosure. Your other options are aspen, pre-cut ridged cardboard, and cypress mulch. Check the substrate every day for urine and stools and replace it whenever necessary. Use only the best cleaning products for the substrate.

Decoration

While loose substrates are more likely to be swallowed by accident, this is not an issue if you use rough beech woodchips. This kind of substrate is also so easy to clean and maintain. In decorating the enclosure of your reticulated python, you can some sort of hiding boxes. These accessories will make your phyton feel safer and more comfortable. If you can, decorate the enclosure with different wood pieces and synthetic plants. 

A cage made for a young snake may include a few vertical structures. These accessories will allow your pet to climb on. Look for the vertical structures crafted using natural wood decors and vines. 

Heating and Lighting

A range of choices exists for the lights and heating tools. These include heat pads, spot lamps, heat panels, and heat tapes. A good-quality thermostat is a smart addition to your pet’s enclosure. This will help a lot in making sure that you’re giving the ideal choices for normal thermoregulation. Temperatures range from 76 degrees Fahrenheit for the cool side while it should be up to 92 degrees Fahrenheit for the warm side. 

Water

A big water dish must be always available. It can be made of dishwasher-safe materials or those that are easy to clean and sanitize. Your reticulated python will occasionally crave a bath, so the water dish must be big and heavy enough to prevent it from tipping over as your pet tries to get into it. 

Availability – Where to Buy One?

Both captive-bred and imported reticulated pythons are widely available today. Imported snakes as not so expensive, but they often come with parasites, plus they struggle to get used to a captive setting. 

Due to the big clutch sizes provided by the captive breeders, healthy hatchlings are no longer hard to find. These snakes are sought-after as they come with better temperaments. Since there is a wide range of choices for the sizes of the adults, their coloration, and temperament, be sure that your pet will come from a credible breeder. Also, this breeder must be able to give you all the information you need regarding the snake you would like to purchase. 

You may look for a reputable breeder during a reptile show. Or, you can shop for reticulated pythons at a popular online reptile pet shop. Taking care of a reticulated python is a long-term commitment. You need to be responsible and do not release the snake intentionally, or even take it to a situation that can become an opportunity for the snake to escape. 

How to Care for a Reticulated Python?

Baby reticulated pythons can be jumpy and nervous in the first few days of its life with you. However, it tames and gains confidence under your care with proper and gentle handling. In the first few weeks of its life with you, be sure you interact with the snake as often as possible. Doing this will help you make the snake feel comfortable and safe whenever you’re around. In the end, the snake will become interested in handling. 

Taking care of a reticulated python may not be easy for novices and seasonal keepers. For avid snake owners, the job will be easy. The snake just needs a safe and secure enclosure, a good substrate, hide box, water dish, lighting and heating systems, and a stable supply of food to stay active and healthy. 

FAQ

Does a reticulated python like to climb?

A reticulated python likes to climb only while it’s young and small. This is a big snake, so it tends to stay mostly on the ground once it reaches adulthood. 

Do reticulated pythons eat people?

The reticulated pythons are among the largest pythons and are physically able to swallow a human. However, attacks on humans involving these snakes are less common. 

How often I should feed a hatchling reticulated python?

Frequent feeding of once to twice every week can lead to rapid growth. Gradually reduce the quantity and size of food that you introduce to your pet in each feeding as it grows.

How long does it take for the reticulated pythons to reach their full size?

In the first 2 to 3 years of their lives, the reticulated pythons can grow up to more than 5 feet within a year. Their growth speed will then slow down after that.

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