last upload at : 13-09-2003

On this page is a readabout on how I keep my snakes in top shape. It may differ from other scenarios or care sheets for burms, but this is just how I do it.. Since my snakes are all top breed, I see no way in doing it otherwise..

Take a look, here you can peek into the habitat terms where my babies are in :-)

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TEMPERATURE :

I tend to keep some global gradient, if it comes to temperature, inside the enclosures. Making sure that the thermoregulation of these ecothermic animals, can do it's work. That means that there are "cold" warm, and some "hot" spots in the tank. If the snake wants, he can get to those spots when desired.. Usually after a feed, they tend to get to the basking places, getting there temperature up for digestion. In the cave there the temperature is the coolest, and that's a darkened place, so they can hide whenever they wanna.

overall day temperature = 26+ C

overall night temp = 22C

basking spots at 30 - 35C

piggy blanket at night at 28C

coldest place = 21C  /\  hottest spot = 36C

I have a combination of IR heat emitters and repti - basking lights

HUMIDITY

The humidity is a bit higher than an average living room, getting it stable around 65 - 70 % Pythons are prawn to cold and pneumonia, so I spray only at lights on, with semi warm water. Giving all the water time to evaporate, gradually raising the humidity.. At molting, I spray more, ( or bath them ) keeping it at around 80 % at the end of the molt.. But keep an eye out for scale rot in your terrarium. I always have some dry spots available for them.. Also in smaller terrariums you can set a bowl of semi hot water !! in there, the evaporation will increase the humidity also. BUT DO NOT LET THE SNAKE IN THERE !!!!

HANDLING

Well, I can keep it short by almost stating that :

the small pythons should be handled whenever they are not in molting, or have just eaten.. Only at those 2 situations, I do not handle them. Otherwise, they are in my hands, or asleep :-))) When I got my pythons, they were already tamed, ( 6 weeks old ) and in order to keep em that way, I handle them as much as possible. Once tamed, a Burm will normally remain gentle and docile.... but remember that they also have some sort of memory active... they can remember... Hmmm... It is still a bit vague, but they seem to have a long term memory of somesort..

As far as danger is involved when handling the big boys, well... I ALWAYS have ATLEAST !!! 2 adult persons nearby, when handling my big one's.. Since I cannot lift her alone, at 70 Kg, I do need the help of a strong arm or 2.. And "if" she is startled, and goes constricting on me, I'll be sure to have help very close by. ( but that means 3 persons for 1 snake.... just in case !!! ) When someone's constricted...ALWAYS get the snake behind the head and,  starting at the tail end, unwrap it, supporting the body of the snake as it comes loose.. 

Theoretically it goes that for every meter of snake, you need 1 person.. As you can imagine, it will be better for the snake's (  health ) if the larger ones are held by 2 persons or more... At 2 meters 40 cm, Melanie is hard to hold alone... and if it goes wrong, and I have her, alone, at a bad spot ( like her neck or so ), the risk of her braking her back are just to big, so..

FEEDING

It has been written all over that the prey you feed them on, is just as big as the thickest part of your snake. That goes for me also.. I tend to feed them like that as much as possible. Sometimes however, I'll feed a "huge" prey, that is a bit bigger than the snake's body. It's in my opinion a kinda broom, that will take all leftovers in the snake, and cleanes it.. dunno if that theory goes, but the snakes like it :-)

Some people inject prey with vitamins...., I breed my own prey ( huge rabbits ), and feed them plenty of nutrients, so my snakes do not need an injected prey !!!!!! I do not approve, unless the prey is humanly killed before the injection, and it is in the good of the snakes health ! SO if the snake lacks nutrient.... well....maybe, if not...NOT !!!! 

Also there's a thing on feeding live prey... cause they actually FIGHT for life... ! I would also.. and there is the possibility that the prey hurts, bites or worse... kills your snake.. There's a story bout a 4 meter albino python, killed by a live rabbit at feeding time... So think what and how you feed... I always feed live prey ( unless utterly needed ), and there's been no problem whatsoever... but I take a risk... would you ?? 

( Mind you that my snakes are "used" to all sorts of food, except frozen... I simply refuse that... so whomever feeds them ( in my case that is me or 2 friends, ) can choose what they want to feed. dead or alive..

As a python goes through the various stages of growing up, The foods they consume differ depending on size, content and smell...  Let us take a strawl down pythonian lane, from hatchling to adult feedings... Also I saw, and read a lot about the "dead rat jiggle" Giving a pre killed prey, by wiggling it in front of your snake... Hmmm, I do not prefer wiggling a dead rat or rabbit in front of my 5 meter ( in feeding mode ) python. Not even on a lengthy stick or whatever.. BE WARE OF STUPID FEEDING ERRORS !!!!

 Also, I do not want obese pythons... If you feed a juvenile python a lotta lunch, there is a high risk when you want to breed it later in life.. Obese snake juvies are hard to breed when matured. As far as I've learned ( correct me if wrong ) Obese means that there is ( a lot of ) fat building up around all sorts of unwanted places ( heart, lungs, kidney, sex organs ) and that is not only bad for the snakes health, but also tends to give problems when tempting to breed, later on..

And remember : 

All prey fed is NOT BIGGER than the biggest part of my snake !!!!!

Best feeding is a couple of days after defecation of the previoes prey... In other words, feed your snake, wait until it goes to the toilet, wait another day or 3 and feed the next prey..

Well, I divided feeding into 4 "juvenile" stages, and below I'll tell you what and how I feed :

1 ) juvenile stage 1 ( birth to 5 months or so )

As the pythons hatch, they are miniature replica's of there parents. The first days after hatching the snakes will digest what's left in there stomach from the yoke sack, and after a few days will start to mold there skin for the first time. After the first mold, juvenile mice ( even  Jung adult mice ) can be fed, and since my pythons were somewhere between 50 - 60 cm long at birth the breeder did so. Once a week, until they were about 80 cm tall at around 5 months.. 

2 ) Juvenile stage 2 ( from 5 to about 12 months or so )

The second prey I feed them on, is rats. Juveniles to start off with, ending with 1 large rat every 2 weeks, until they reach 160 - 180 cm ( around 1 year ). at that time they will have 2 rats, or a very small rabbit each every 2 - 3 weeks.

** From here on down.... ( actually allways ) WATCH OUT DURING FEEDING !!! avoid SFE's !! **

3 ) Juvenile stage 3 : ( 12 - 24 months ) 

As the pythons grow to maturity, ( this stage they are 2 meter + ) so will the amount and variety of food. Medium rabbits, large adult ( male ) rats, and an optional cavia or Guinn pig. I refuse to feed chickens, due to Salmonella !!!!!!

4 ) last juvenile stage : ( 24 - 36 months )

At 3 years, or around 3 meters, the male is in my opinion  matured... At that time, I'll feed him 1 huge rabbit, every 2 or 3 weeks. The female, eventually reaching over 4 ( 5 and even 6  ) meters, has the same feed, but 2 rabbits. It goes for both that handling becomes something to do with some STRONG friends within earshot away, just in case... but since my pythons had a great childhood, I am almost sure they will remain as they ALL are.... gentle giants !!...

HEALTH

There are in my opinion a lotta things where you as the keeper, can judge the health of your snake.. If you and the snakes grew up together, you will notice a snake that is "off normal" I've made for myself a simple checklist, to quickly see, if the snake is "off normal" or not.. Since there are so many things that you might take into consideration, I've taken the most common one's...

It could be that I forgot that :

the snake is starting to show signs of a coming mold ( turns darker )

when molding a snake usually does not eat, and is a bit cranky

The snake is still digesting a ( or more ) previous prey ( eg hasn't went to the bathroom )

a semi warm bath in clean water for 30 minutes does great if it needs to go, but has problems !! 

Are the scales OK ? ( belly scales nice and shiny, all scales are neatly closed, no discoloration? )

Is the cloaca clean and neat ?

Is the mouth clean ? ( purplish looking, no slime, no bloody teeth, no jukky smell, ? )

is the snake active ? ( or is it dull, and lethargic ? )

Is the breathing normal ? ( no hissing, no slimy sounds.. ? )

terrarium parameters are off from normal ??

Is there a bulb or floor heater broken, is the avrg. temperature too low, or humidity too high...??? all causes for your snake to act up...

Snake parameters are off normal ??

are there mites, parasites or nematodes at work.. is your snake healthy and alert, or shy and stressed ?? One of the many signs of a coming disease is food refusal. If there is ANY doubt, take a fresh !!! feces sample to the vet...

If there are also no visible signs, such as bite marks of a cage mate or burn marks ( scales turn from brown to black, in severe cases.. ) I keep it under close attention, and if needed, I can instantly fully quarantine the snake. ( I always !!! have an empty QT up and running,, just in case ) That's handy, when more snakes are in 1 enclosure... I have 4 snakes in 1 tank, and it is sometimes hard to tell from who that ugly smelling feces was :-) When in qt, you have proof.

Check out THE DISEASE AREA of my snakes, to see what I've been dealing with..

 

BREEDING

If you have a male and female, breeding your pythons, is the last step to complete the circle. For the novice keeper it can however post a lotta risks. Think about a gravid female, with 30+ eggs, that cannot lay them... to name 1 of the many things that can go wrong... Also if attempted to put them in a winter rest, you can have numerous problems, whatsoever...  I do sound negative ej... !!! Well, breeding your pythons is not hard, they are snakes that can be easily bred. The main thing is that you decrease feeding in the fall, and keep the male and female apart. Slowly lower the average temperature to a fair 24 degrees, give them just 5 - 7 hours of light each day, and keep em that way for a few months. Then, after slowly raising the temperature, the snakes must be well fed ( especially the female ) before  mating is attempted. Gravid females do not eat for a long time...

MAKE SURE THEY ARE VERY HEALTHY BEFOR MATING IS ATTEMPTED

But, patience is futile, I'll update the breeding section, day 1 my own pythons go in breeding prep. And it looks easy, in plain text, but breeding is the ultimate test, to see if you are capable of maintaining the spiecies... If so, you will have great looking and healthy offspring, if not you probably end up with no baby snakes at all... or worse.. No snakes at all !!!

 

THE HABITAT ( MY SNAKES ARE IN )

Well, all snakes need a place to stay, and the bigger the snakes get, the bigger the enclosure must be. Also, if you have tree climbing snakes, they need some branches.. A hiding place is also nice..., a cardboard box with a hole in it will do, but hey, isn't a hollow log nicer looking. There is a lot written on my enclosures on this page, so I'll only will talk about the dimensions and basic requirements.

MALE ENCLOSURE :

Length : 1.80 meter, width : 1.20 meter, height : 2.50 meter.

a 70 liter water tank ( bath, drinking spot ) Pythons love swimming, and need a water tank where they can go into completely..

a total of 3, individual basking places, all with a temperature diff. warmest is at 40 C the "coldest " at 34 C ( 2 for daytime, 1 stays on and off 24/7 )

 1 high resting shelf, halfway up the enclosure with a climbing route to it.., and a cave, big enough for the adult snake to hide in. also I change the limbs in the enclosure, once a month, so he can go out exploring again.

a concrete waterfall of 50 cm.

FEMALES ENCLOSURE :

As stated, in this tank are the 3 females together, so I made a pretty nice ( HUGE ) tank for them, I'll keep it very short here, since I already am blogging my new tank.. So for details check out the Image Gallery, and see the new tank pictures..

Length : 3.10 meter, width : 1.10 meter, longest part is 3 meters long, short end is 1.75 meter height : 2.39 meter.

a 1 x 1 meter, 100 liter water tank ( bath, drinking spot )

a total of 7, individual basking places, all with a temperature diff. warmest is at 40 C the "coldest " at 34 C ( 4 for daytime, 3 stay on and off 24/7 )

And last but not least I recently installed 5 seperate holding tanks. There for feeding/breeding and QT purposes.

L x W x H = 150 x 75 x 50 cm with 2 spots.