|Common Name:||Ringed Python/Bismarck Ringed Python|
|Scientific Name:||Bothrochilus boa|
|Life Span:||More than 20 years|
|Size:||Average of 5 feet|
|Habitat:||Rainforest, forests near rivers, plantations|
|Country of Origin:||Bismarck archipelago|
The Ringed Python is considered one of the more beautiful species of snakes because of how distinctively colorful and diverse it looks. It also is a moderately big type of python but does not grow as big as the larger types of pythons you know of such as the reticulated python. The Ringed Python, instead, can grow to lengths of about 6 feet.
What really makes the Ringed Python stand out as a pet is its captivating and eye-catching color pattern. While younger, these snakes tend to have vibrant colors that are close to orange. In fact, many people love how colorful they are as juveniles. For about a year into their lifespan, the Ringed Python has a beautiful orange-colored body that is adorned with black rings from the neck down to the tail. As such, these snakes really live up to the “ringed” in their name. However, at times, the bands do not always look like rings but can vary from snake to snake in terms of pattern. Some Ringed Pythons have spots, stripes, or blotches instead of the usual rings that surround the body of most of these snakes.
But, as they grow older, the vibrancy tends to tone down. A few years into their lifespan, the Ringed Python’s bright orange color will appear lighter in terms of tine and even fades to give them an appearance that is less than vibrant. Most of the time, the snake will eventually turn to color that is closer to yellow than orange. There are even times when the scales of some of these snakes darken instead of lighten and will eventually look like brown pythons that are line with different rings of black.
While the Ringed Python generally has a black head and also has black rings or patterns around its body, its color will vary depending on where the snake came from. As mentioned, older Ringed Pythons change in color as they age but the end result really varies. There are those that turn yellow while others turn brown. Some Ringed Pythons even darken so much that their formerly orange scales turn into a color that is close to black already to give them an almost all-black black appearance.
Pythons, in general, have heads that are bigger than their necks to allow them to swallow larger prey whole. However, the Ringed Python is quite different in that regard because these snakes actually have heads that are smaller than their necks. It is believed that the reason for such is that their smaller heads allow them to burrow into the ground easier than snakes with larger heads.
Meanwhile, in contrast to their smaller heads, Ringed Pythons have bodies that tend to be quite thick or stout for their body length. This may be a common trait in pythons but what makes it a unique one for the Ringed Python is that its thickness does not seem to be in proportion to the length of its body. Nevertheless, its stout body adds muscle to its vice grip when it is choking the life out of its prey.
As with all pythons, it is generally believed that female Ringed Pythons are much larger than their male counterparts. Thus, you may be able to tell two pythons apart in terms of sex by looking at their size so long as they are close in terms of age.
The Ringed Python starts out as a hatchling that is about a few inches short of a foot. These snakes are usually are somewhere between 7 and 9 inches and are already thick enough to look like pencils. As hatchlings, Ringed Pythons usually already display the bright and vibrant orange color that they are known for. Even as these pythons reached their juvenile years, they will retain that lovely striped color but will gradually change as it sheds its skin while growing at a rapid pace. By the time the Ringed Python reaches adulthood, it will be somewhere near 5 to 6 feet long and its orange stripes will already be either light yellow or dark brown. At adulthood, they are also quite thick and are about as stout as a child’s clenched fists.
Ringed Pythons, like any other python, are carnivorous reptiles. They only eat anything that is meat-based and will not hesitate to feed on anything that fits into their mouths. Some owners also say that the Ringed Python is not a very picky eater and is quite easy to feed compared to other types of snakes. As long as you offer its prey life, there is always a good chance that it will eat it without demanding a lot of effort on your part.
Since the Ringed Python is a constrictor that is not venomous, this python uses its large and thick body and its strong muscles to constrict its prey until it crushes it to death. After that, it will swallow its prey whole. This is a behavior that is common in pythons and other types of non-venomous snakes. In captivity, however, they will not mind eating thawed pink mice that you kept frozen. You can tease or entice the snake by offering the mice to it using tweezers. After that, it will grab on its food and then proceed to swallow it whole.
As early as their hatchling days, Ringed Pythons are already big enough to eat small pink or white mice whole. It really is not difficult to entice them to eat the thawed pink mouse. A simple tease will do the trick and, before you know it, the small 10-inch Ringed Python will be eating the mouse whole. However, if you bought your snake as a hatchling, make sure to buy one that was already feeding for a few weeks because those are the ones that are not very difficult to feed. Even Ringed Pythons as small as hatchlings have quite the appetite when they start feeding. These snakes almost always never refuse food that is offered to them. On top of that, hatchlings and juveniles are quick to metabolize their meals thanks in large part to their rapidly growing bodies. That means that regular feeding is a must if you want them to grow up to be healthy pythons. You may want to feed them about two to three times a week.
The Ringed Python’s meals should move up in size as the snake gets older. You do not always have to stick to small pink mice as you can slowly move up to rats or to bigger mice. But the one thing you need to consider when feeding adult Ringed Pythons is that they do have small heads despite their large bodies. As such, a single large prey is not ideal for them because their mouths are not big enough to swallow them. Instead, it is better to feed them with multiple smaller prey that fit nicely into their mouths. Adults should be fed about 2 to 3 times per month because their metabolism tends to slow down at this point. You would not want your Ringed Python ending up obese due to overfeeding as obesity can lead to more health complications in the future.
When feeding your Ringed Python regardless of its age, remember to avoid using your hands directly as they do have a voracious feeding response. Always use tweezers or sticks when enticing them to eat their meals. Also, do not try to handle them long enough just before their feeding because their hunger might be enough to force them to attack you. It also is better to feed a Ringed Python in its enclosure so that it will not associate you with food whenever you are handling it. Lastly, you should consider not feeding your snake when it is in the middle of shedding because these pythons do not really like eating while they are still shedding.
Ringed Pythons are nocturnal snakes that will most likely spend the entire day resting or asleep and become active during the night when the sun is down or when the lights are off. They are also semi-fossorial, which means that there will be times when they will spend the day sleeping in burrows that they themselves dug up. These reptiles spend about 12 hours asleep and the other 12 hours active. Because they are nocturnal, it is better to feed them at night when they are expected to hunt for food when in the wild.
Keeping fresh water in a large enough dish or bowl inside the Ringed Python’s enclosure is essential for hydration. On top of that, these snakes may spend some of their time soaking in water especially when they feel dry. Having well-hydrated and moist skin aids in helping these snakes shed easier. They will also soak in their water bowl if they feel like the nights are a bit too cold since the temperature in the water is a bit warmer compared to the temperature out in the open during winter or any other cold season.
Ringed Pythons breed in the wild when the female releases pheromones that will attract nearby male Ringed Pythons. Breeding often happens during the warmer or wet seasons and is usually after winter in northern-like countries. When they are breeding, male Ringed Pythons may fight for the affection or the right to mate with the female. The winning python will have the chance to copulate with the female. The Ringed Python is an oviparous animal that lays eggs with little to no embryonic development while the eggs are still inside the female. These females will be able to lay a clutch of about a dozen eggs. Ringed Pythons do not always brood their eggs and will leave them to hatch on their own with little to no parental care on the part of the female snake. However, this is not always the case for these snakes.
Common Health Problems
Ringed Pythons are similar to almost any other snake in the sense that they also face common health problems that can be quite difficult to avoid if you are not aware of what they are. As such, here are the health issues or illnesses you should know so as to make sure your Ringed Python gets to live a happy and healthy life as much as possible while minimizing the chances of suffering from common health problems:
When the Ringed Python kept in captive care starts feeding, it will not be difficult to feed them. In fact, it is quite the opposite in the sense that they are really easy to feed and will most likely eat anything you offer them so long as the prey item fits their mouths. As such, they are aggressive eaters that almost do not know their limit. This makes the Ringed Python prone to obesity. If you feed your python without any control on your part, the snake will end up being too overweight for its own good and will not be able to function well. This will open it up to more illnesses and health risks that can potentially shorten its lifespan.
Parasites are common in most reptiles especially if they live in environments that are less than ideal for them. This is true in terms of both external and internal parasites. External parasites are usually in the form of mites that like to suck blood from the snake. It will be easy for them to do so because the Ringed Python’s skin is a bit thin compared to other pythons. And the difficult part here is that mites are black and tend to be very small. It is almost impossible for you to detect mites with the naked eye alone.
Meanwhile, most Ringed Pythons have internal parasites. However, they are much more abundant in snakes that were captured from the wild. These wild-caught Ringed Pythons are usually better equipped to handle internal parasites because of their strong immune systems. However, the stress of transfer and acclimation to a new environment will be more than enough to weaken their immune systems. That is why going for captive-bred Ringed Pythons is always better if you want a snake that is not prone to parasites.
If you see or notice your Ringed Python wheezing, there is a good chance that it is suffering from an illness caused by respiratory infections. This type of infection is quite common in a lot of reptiles and snakes due to different environmental conditions. If the temperature is too cold for them or if the humidity levels are too high, your Ringed Python will be opened up to respiratory infections. Other symptoms of this health problem include mucus, loss of appetite, and general fatigue.
You can help prevent illnesses in your ringed pythons by providing the best kind of environment and care for them. For starters, try to schedule their feeding to avoid obesity in your snake. These aggressive eaters should only eat about once every 10 to 14 days as adults but you may want to increase the regularity of their meals when they are still hatchlings or juveniles. Younger Ringed Pythons should be fed about 2 to 3 times a week because their metabolism is a lot faster than adults.
Meanwhile, always make sure that you provide your snake with a good and clean enclosure that has environmental conditions that are similar to what they experience in the wild. Watch the temperature and humidity levels to prevent respiratory illnesses and the growth of molds. See to it that you spot clean their enclosure from time to time and also completely sanitize it once in a while to prevent the buildup of bacteria, parasites, or any other harmful micro-organism. The same should be said when it comes to their water dish because these reptiles may sometimes defecate in the water. Change their water regularly to prevent infections. You should also sanitize the entire water dish as well. For sanitation, if you do not have a commercial cleaner that is safe for reptiles, a solution made from vinegar and water should do the trick.
The Ringed Python is a nocturnal animal that is more likely to be active during the night. In the wild, it uses the cover of the night to hunt for prey. Its color actually makes it ideal for nighttime activity given that it will be extra difficult to spot or detect it because of how its dark-colored scales allow it to hide well in the night and how its bright colors allow it to blend well with vegetation. You can expect your captive-bred Ringed Python to be more active in its enclosure after the sun is down.
As a semi-fossorial snake, the Ringed Python may sometimes dig through the substrate of its enclosure to hide in a burrow. The reason why they do this is to avoid drying their skin out during the day especially when the sun or the light source is extra hot. Staying under the substrate allows them to stay cool and moist because a good substrate tends to hold moisture really well.
Ringed Pythons are quite shy at first. They are easily startled and will most likely go on the defensive when you try to take them out of their enclosure thinking that you are a potential threat. As such, it might be best to use a hook to take out of its enclosure at first. When it is already used to you as you handle it, it will eventually become a bit submissive to you and will tolerate getting handled. Make sure that you try to support the entire weight of the Ringed Python when handling it because it helps it feel safe and secure with you. This will minimize the risk of it going on the defensive and actually attacking or biting you. The important part here is to slowly try to grab it instead of quickly trying to handle it so as to not startle it. It will not hesitate to defend itself when it feels threatened.
When they are hungry, Ringed Pythons can be a bit voracious and will try to bite anything it can eat. Make sure to use tweezers when feeding these reptiles with dead prey to avoid getting attacked. Also, do not try to handle them just a few hours before their scheduled feeding as they may act aggressively towards you.
Hibernation actually is not normal in Ringed Pythons because they come from regions that normally do not see winters. However, there is a chance that these snakes will undergo hibernation or a state of dormancy during winter or the colder seasons. Some breeders prefer to have their snakes undergo this period of dormancy because they believe that there is a chance that their snakes will produce bigger clutches during the mating season right after they hibernate. In that sense, hibernation can be a choice. If you do not want your snake to hibernate, you may need to keep the heat up during the winter.
Ringed Pythons really are not very choosy snakes when it comes to their enclosure. The type of caging you can use for your snake can vary. You can use any reptile terrarium that is commercially available in many pet stores that specialize in exotic pets. However, you can also safely use plastic cages and tubs that can be sealed tightly. Such cages allow you to control the temperature and humidity levels well. It might be best to go for an enclosure that has a see-through side so that you can observe your Ringed Python.
You might not want to house them in glass aquariums because of how shy they are. These snakes do not like the feeling of being out in the open as they are rather shy and defensive. Putting them in a housing unit that exposes them out in the open will only make them feel less confident and defensive towards their handler. And, due to how strong these snakes are, you may want to make sure that the enclosure is safely sealed and is sturdy as well.
You can house your Ringed Python in an enclosure that is at least about 3 feet long and a foot high. For hatchlings, you can use smaller plastic containers that are about the size of an ordinary shoebox. It is important to make sure that the enclosure is high enough for you to make the substrate deep. That is because Ringed Pythons like to dig and hide in burrows from time to time especially when they want to keep their skin moist.
When it comes to furnishings, you should best use snake habitat decorations that serve to help give your Ringed Python a place to hide in. This shy reptile should be given rocks or plants to use as hiding spots especially when they do not want to be seen or when they want to keep their bodies away from the heat to stay moist and hydrated.
Lighting and Humidity
Ringed Pythons are nocturnal reptiles and do not require any sort of lighting during the day because they prefer to stay in the dark. However, you may use an ultraviolet B lamp to provide your snake with the much-needed UVB lights it needs to help in calcium metabolism. A UVB lamp is not necessary but it really does help when it comes to supplementing your snake with the vitamin D3 it requires to improve its calcium absorption. This will allow its bones to stay strong as it grows. Other than that, the main purpose of light for your snake is to provide it with a natural light cycle so that it will be able to tell apart the days from the nights.
When it comes to humidity, always keep humidity levels up. That is because Ringed Pythons have skins that are thinner than other snakes. As such, they are much more prone to drying out than other pythons are. To avoid dehydration, always see to it that the humidity is at least 60% but not more than 80% to prevent the buildup of molds and other organisms that can potentially harm your snake. Check the substrate and make sure that it is damp enough but not flooding. You may want to mist the enclosure from time to time. Sometimes, a large water dish will be enough to keep humidity levels consistent. Of course, the choice of substrate and airflow is also just as important.
Keeping the temperature up is important for Ringed Pythons because they are used to environments and enclosures that are quite warm. It is suggested that you try to keep a constant temperature that is somewhere between 82 to 84 degrees Fahrenheit for your snake. It may safely drop to about 75 to 78 degrees at night. Meanwhile, the basking spot should be about 88 degrees. Basking allows the Ringed Python to metabolize its meals easier.
A UVB lamp will not be powerful enough to provide your snake with the heat it needs. As such, you may want to invest in a good heat source such as an incandescent lamp for additional light and warmth. But because Ringed Pythons prefer to stay away from the light, you may want to use a heating pad instead so that you no longer have to add more lights to the enclosure.
Shedding really will not be too difficult for Ringed Pythons because of their thin skin. However, at the same time, because of how thin their skin is, they are prone to drying out easily. This will make it difficult for them to shed their skin. Keep humidity levels up and make sure that your snake’s skin is as moist as possible to make sure that it sheds its skin quite easily. Also, they may not want to feed whenever they are shedding. This is perfectly normal and you should not force your snake to feed while it is shedding.
It is essential that you clean your Ringed Python’s enclosure as much as possible by spot cleaning it on a regular basis. Take the snake out of its enclosure for a while and place it in a temporary container when spot cleaning the enclosure. Another thing you need to consider is to sanitize the entire enclosure maybe once every four weeks to prevent the buildup of any harmful bacteria or organisms. As to its water dish, change the water regularly and never forget to sanitize the dish to kill off any harmful bacteria that may have stayed behind. Use a good cleaning solution made out of water and vinegar for sanitation.
Natural Environment – Substrate
There are reptile beddings that are sold commercially in many pet stores. In that regard, you may want to choose them. But if you cannot get your hands on such, it might be best for you to use cypress mulch because of how fantastic it is at holding moisture. This helps in making your Ringed Python’s enclosure humid. Although you can choose newspapers as a form of bedding, it might be better to go for something more natural. You should also make the substrate a few inches deep to allow your snake to dig through it since the Ringed Python is a terrestrial reptile that may display semi-fossorial tendencies.
Ringed Pythons require a lot of water not only for drinking but also for soaking. These snakes love to stay in the water to keep their bodies moist. The large water dish also allows you to maintain humidity levels in the enclosure. Another thing to consider here is the sanitation of the water dish. Always see to it that you replace the water when you see signs of contamination as there are Ringed Pythons that may defecate in their water dish from time to time.
Availability – Where to Get One?
Ringed Pythons can be quite rare compared to other types of pet reptiles. It will be difficult to see them for sale in local stores but they may be more common in reputable online stores that specialize in reptiles. You may also check reptile expos where different breeders and sellers usually congregate. If you can get your hands on one, make sure that it is captive-bred because they tend to be healthier and better-acclimated to living in captivity than those that were caught in the wild.
How to Care for a Ringed Python?
Here are some tips on how to care for a Ringed Python:
- Ringed Pythons are quite aggressive when eating and will eat almost anything. Be safe when trying to feed these snakes as they may accidentally harm you.
- Though they are not generally aggressive, Ringed Pythons are shy and defensive and will not be afraid to attack when they feel threatened or if you startle them. Approach them slowly and with caution.
- Purchase a Ringed Python that is already feeding so that feeding them will not be difficult for you to feed them.
- Provide a substrate that is deep enough for digging because these snakes often make burrows where they can hide in to keep their skin moist and hydrated.
Are Ringed Pythons venomous?
Like any python, the Ringed Python is a non-venomous snake and would rather constrict their prey than kill them with venom.
Are Ringed Pythons good for beginner owners?
Ringed Pythons might not be good for beginner owners because of their shy tendencies. In that regard, beginners who do not have any experience with snakes might not know how to approach or handle a Ringed Python.
Do Ringed Pythons bite humans?
Yes, they do. Ringed Pythons will bite humans when they are on the defensive but are not really aggressors unless they accidentally bite you during feeding sessions.
Are Ringed Pythons solely carnivorous?
Ringed Pythons are carnivores and will only eat anything that is meat-based.
Can you house two Ringed Pythons safely?
Putting a male and a female together in one enclosure is a good idea if you want them to breed. However, two males in one housing is not a good idea because of how territorial they can get.
Can you safely handle Ringed Pythons?
Ringed Pythons can be safe for handling only if you approach them with caution so as to not startle them.
Is it okay for a Ringed Python to be staying for extended periods of time in its burrow?
While Ringed Pythons are semi-fossorial, this snake should not be in burrows for extended periods of time. If that is the case, there must be something wrong with the temperature and humidity in its enclosure.