Children’s Python Care Sheet

Children’s Python Care Sheet

Children’s pythons (Antaresia childreni) are 2-3’ long, nocturnal, terrestrial snakes native to the northern extremes of Australia. They can be found in a wide variety of habitats in this area but seem to prefer rocky outcrops, the mouths of caves, and sparsely wooded areas.

Children’s pythons have slender bodies with pear-shaped heads, smooth scales, vertical pupils, and visible heat pits. They typically have a tan-to-gray base color with irregular brown spots, although some adults have little to no discernible pattern.

They were initially named after John George Children, not because they’re particularly popular children’s pets. Children’s pythons still make good beginner-level pet reptiles. With good care, they can live up to 30 years.


Many people opt for 40 or 75-gallon tanks when housing Children's pythons. However, based on our experience, we suggest a 36” L x 18” W x 18” H enclosure for these snakes. We always say bigger is better, though! Ultimately, the best living conditions for Children's python depends on their individual needs.

Due to their petite size, Children’s pythons are prone to escape, particularly as juveniles. They are slender enough to escape through the gap between sliding doors! Make sure to secure your enclosure thoroughly. 

Can Children's pythons be kept together?

Cohabitation (keeping multiple Children’s pythons in one enclosure) can be done but is not necessary. If you wish to house a group of Children’s pythons, you will need a larger enclosure, and it is best to house multiple females together rather than multiple males.

How to quarantine a Children's python

When you bring home a new pet reptile, it’s best practice to quarantine it first, especially if you own other reptiles. 

Quarantine is the practice of isolating animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease. 

Even if you don’t have other reptiles, quarantine is still essential because it allows you to closely monitor your snake for signs of illness and administer treatment. You can use your Children's python’s long-term enclosure for quarantine or a large plastic tub. Tubs are inexpensive and easy to clean, making them the go-to option for quarantine. 

Here are some general rules for quarantining your Children's python:

  • Keep the snake in a different room from other reptiles, if possible.
  • We suggest using different equipment for your new Children's python and washing your hands thoroughly between handling other animals.
  • Thoroughly disinfect the enclosure often; we suggest doing this about one time per week.
  • If needed, get the Children's python checked by an experienced reptile veterinarian and treated for parasites.
  • Monitor your new pet closely and watch for any symptoms of illness or disease.
  • Check your snake and its water bowl closely for mites, especially if the snake is soaking. If you do find mites, treat them accordingly.


Do Children's pythons need UVB?

While Children's pythons can survive without UVB lighting, we recommend providing it, if possible. UVB lighting helps give a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits. 

The best UVB bulbs for Children's pythons are:

For best results, house the UVB bulbs in a reflective fixture. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, about 9-11” above the basking area if over the mesh, and 12-14” above the basking area if not. 

UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so placing the terrarium in front of a window doesn’t count as “free UVB” — in fact, it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. Don’t forget to replace your bulb about every 12 months!

We suggest leaving lights on for about 8-12 hours daily to follow a natural day-to-night cycle. You may wish to adjust this for seasonal changes, such as running the lights longer during the summer. All lights should be off at night. 


The best temperature for Children's pythons

Like other reptiles, Children's pythons are cold-blooded, which means they rely on external temperatures to manage their body temperature and metabolism. A reptile’s enclosure should offer a range of temperatures to allow them to thermoregulate effectively. To ensure your Children's python is healthy and comfortable, provide them with a habitat that offers a range of temperatures for effective thermoregulation.

Children’s pythons should generally have a basking/hot spot temperature of 85-90°F, an average ambient temperature of 78-80°F, and a cool side temperature between 75-78°F. Each reptile may have different preferences and needs, so you may need to adjust these ranges up or down slightly to accommodate your pet better. It is good practice to monitor your animal and make adjustments as needed.

Overhead heating methods, such as halogen bulbs, are recommended to achieve and maintain these temperatures. You may also use alternative methods such as radiant heat panels or deep heat projectors.

It is essential to regulate and monitor the temperature of the heating method chosen. You can use a thermostat, dimmer switch, or rheostat to control the heat output. You should conduct regular temperature checks to ensure everything is functioning correctly. We recommend an infrared temperature gun to measure basking/surface temperatures and a digital thermometer to monitor ambient temperatures.

Providing your Children's python with the appropriate temperature range will ensure your pet is healthy, comfortable, and able to effectively carry out necessary biological processes.


Best humidity levels for Children's pythons

Appropriate humidity levels are crucial for Children's pythons' health and well-being. Children’s pythons do well anywhere between 20-80% humidity. The key is ensuring they always have access to fresh water and a humid hide.

To ensure that your Children's python has access to sufficient humidity, it is a good idea to provide a third humid hide lined with moistened sphagnum moss. This will allow your snake to regulate its humidity levels as necessary.

We recommend using a digital hygrometer to monitor the humidity level in the enclosure accurately. This device will allow you to keep track of the humidity levels and adjust as needed to ensure your Children's python is in a comfortable and healthy environment.

When needed, one effective method to increase humidity levels is by misting it with a spray bottle once or twice a day. Misting the enclosure first thing in the morning and again at night if necessary is recommended. Another way to maintain humidity levels is by mixing water directly into the substrate on one side. This will help to retain moisture and prevent the enclosure from becoming too dry.

How to create a humid hide for your Children's python

We suggest adding a third humid hide in addition to the warm and cool hides, which should be placed towards the middle to cool end of the enclosure. Providing your Children's python with access to a humid hide is a great way to ensure your Children's python will be able to stay well-hydrated and shed more easily. This hide should function as a humid burrow to which your Children's python can retreat whenever it needs a bit of extra moisture.

There are various options for purchasing a humid hide, such as the Zilla Rock Lair or the Exo Terra Snake Cave. These products are fully-enclosed and easy to clean. Alternatively, you can make your humid hide using a Tupperware container with a hole cut out for an entrance. Whether you purchase or create your humid hide, you can line it with a moistened paper towel or sphagnum moss.

If you use paper towels, you should replace them every 1-3 days to ensure it stays clean. If you use sphagnum moss, replace it every 2-4 weeks. By providing your Children's python with a humid hide and regularly maintaining it, you can help ensure your pet stays healthy and comfortable.


Naturalistic Options

Choosing a suitable substrate is essential when creating a comfortable and healthy habitat for your Children's python. A great option is to provide a thick layer of natural substrate or bedding, which can offer cushioning and help maintain humidity levels while enhancing the enclosure's overall appearance. We recommend the following commercial substrates for Children's pythons:

Substrate mixes are also a great option. You can mix several commercial substrates or create a mixture using a combination of organic topsoil and play sand. Other self-made mixture options are possible, and you should research the subject thoroughly before making your custom mix. 

Ideally, the substrate should be about 4” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with any contaminated substrate.

Paper Towels

While various substrate options are available for Children's python enclosures, some keepers prefer to use simpler substrates such as paper towels. This can be an effective and easy-to-maintain option for keeping your snake's enclosure clean and is an especially great option when your snake is still in quarantine.

However, remember that using paper towels as a substrate requires more frequent replacement than other options. Paper towels can quickly become soiled and develop mold if left unchanged for too long. Therefore, we recommend regularly replacing the paper towel substrate to keep your Children's python's enclosure clean and prevent mold growth.

Ultimately, the choice of substrate for your Children's python's enclosure will depend on your personal preferences and your pet's needs. Regardless of which substrate you choose, you must maintain it properly to ensure your Children's python stays healthy and comfortable.

What to know about cleaning a Children's python enclosure

Replacing your Children's python’s substrate is a good time to give the entire enclosure a good cleanout. Here are some general steps to follow: 

  • Remove your snake from the enclosure and put it inside a temporary, escape-proof holding container. This container should offer a hide, a small water bowl, and a thin layer of the old substrate from the enclosure for the snake’s comfort.
  • Remove all substrate and decor.
  • Vacuum and wipe down the enclosure to remove leftover particles.
  • Apply a reptile-safe disinfectant to the floor and walls of the enclosure and let it sit for the disinfectant’s recommended contact time.
  • Meanwhile, soak branches, rocks, hides, and other decor items in a disinfectant rated for porous materials for the recommended contact time.
  • If required, rinse the enclosure and the accessories with clean water to remove disinfectant residue. Allow everything to dry.
  • Pour new substrate into the enclosure. Mix in water until uniformly moistened but not wet.
  • Arrange décor. If your Children's python is easily stressed by change, put everything back where it was before.
  • Reintroduce your snake to the clean setup.

Several veterinary-grade disinfectant options are available that are effective for both porous and nonporous materials, such as Chlorhexidine, F10SC, and CleanBreak. It is essential to carefully follow the instructions on the packaging to ensure safe and proper use. Alternatively, you can use diluted bleach for disinfecting. For porous materials, we suggest a 1:10 dilution, while for nonporous materials, we recommend a 1:50 dilution. 


How to decorate a Children's python terrarium

We have found that providing environmental enrichment for your Children's python can significantly improve its quality of life by keeping it stimulated and engaged. Adding carefully selected décor items can encourage natural behaviors and exercise, leading to a happy and healthy pet.

As previously mentioned, providing multiple hides is recommended, with one placed on the warm side and one on the cool side of the enclosure, along with a humid hide, if possible. We find that Children's pythons will gladly use branches to climb on, and adding other items, such as fake plants or cork bark, can create a more naturalistic and stimulating environment. Be sure to avoid items with sharp edges. Some great options to include in your enclosure are: 


What to feed to a Children's python

Children's pythons are carnivores, meaning they must eat whole animal prey for proper nutrition. Here is a basic feeding schedule based on snake weight:

  • Juveniles should be fed every 5-7 days.
  • Adults should be every 10-14 days.

Prey items should be around 10% of the snake’s weight and no more than 1.5x its width at its widest point. You can choose to feed live or frozen prey. We recommend using frozen/thawed rodents when possible, as they are easier to find and store while eliminating the risk of the prey injuring your snake. If you choose to feed live prey, we strongly recommend monitoring your snake during feeding so that you can quickly remove the rodent if needed. Frozen prey should be thawed in a BPA-free plastic bag in warm water until it reaches ~100°F. Use a pair of soft-tipped feeding tweezers to offer it to your snake.

One of the keys to great nutrition is variety, so aside from offering mice and rats, quail, chicks, and quail eggs can also add diversity to your snake’s diet.

Where to get feeders for your snake

Most pet stores sell frozen mice and rats in various sizes to feed snakes. This option is convenient because you can buy prey one at a time. However, the variety is most likely limited, and the price per rodent is typically relatively high.

You can purchase feeders from an online breeder for your Children's python if you prefer a more convenient option. With the help of the internet, you can access a wide range of prey options. However, it's worth noting that these breeders typically require bulk purchases, resulting in a lower cost per rodent but higher upfront expenses. Moreover, shipping costs can be expensive due to the perishable nature of the feeders. We suggest buying several months' worth of supply at once to avoid paying too much on shipping fees.

By utilizing social media, you can often find a local feeder breeder to supply your rodents, and many can offer both live and frozen/thawed. Some keepers choose to breed their rodents. While this is an option, it is work-intensive as you will have rodent enclosures that need regular cleanings. 


Providing drinking water for Children's pythons

Of course, don’t forget a large water bowl for your snake to drink from and soak in! Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly or whenever it becomes soiled.


How to handle your Children's python

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. Children's pythons generally tolerate human interaction pretty well! When picking up your Children's python, be gentle and try to pick it up from the side or below rather than from above. Support as much of its body as possible, and NEVER pick it up by its tail, as this can damage its spine!

Taming tips for Children's pythons

Children's pythons are usually gentle, so many people think they will be easy to tame. However, this isn’t always the case. Children's pythons are often timid, so you may have to work to gain their trust and be especially careful to create a positive association with you. It’s best to encourage the snake to come out of the enclosure and climb onto you independently rather than simply grabbing them whenever you’re in the mood for handling. We do not suggest grabbing your Children's python from its hide, as this is a very effective way to make it feel unsafe.

Are you worried about getting bitten? Teach your Children's python to tell the difference between food and handling times. One way to do this is by tapping on the front of the enclosure with your fingernails before offering food so the snake associates tapping with food. When it’s handling time, don’t tap. Of course, if the snake still looks coiled and interested, you can use a paper towel roll to gently tap it on the head and distract it from thinking about food.

How to provide enrichment for a Children's python

Enrichment is the practice of strategically providing items and activities to encourage a captive animal to exercise natural behaviors. This also helps increase activity, reduce stress, and increase the animal’s welfare. 

Here are some ways to provide enrichment for Children's pythons:

  • Rearrange the enclosure. If total overhauls are too stressful, move one thing occasionally at your snake’s pace. For some individuals, that may be once a month; for others, they might like once a week.
  • Puzzle feeders. This can be as simple as placing the snake’s prey in an open box or plastic cup.
  • Simulated nest raids. Instead of offering one prey item, place a cluster of much smaller prey (ex: pinky mice or pinky rats) somewhere in the enclosure for the snake to find.
  • Supervised exploration time outside of the enclosure. Make sure to keep them away from situations that you can’t get the snake out of.
  • “Box of things.” Introduce your snake to a box or bin full of different items of different sizes and textures: branches, pipes, easily-washable plushies, etc.!


When should you take a Children's python to the vet?

Dogs and cats aren’t the only pets who need veterinary care — snakes get sick and need professional help like any other pet. If you notice that your snake has any of the following symptoms, make an appointment with an experienced reptile vet right away:

  • Noisy breathing
  • Mucus discharge from the mouth/nose
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Large patches of missing scales
  • Discolored belly scales
  • Swelling or bumps anywhere on the body
  • Sudden, unusually aggressive behavior

Children's Python Resources

*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please further your research with high-quality sources. The more you know, the better you will be able to care for your pet!

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