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 a pear-shaped head, smooth scales, vertical pupils, and visible heat pits. They typically have a tan to gray base color with a pattern of irregular brown spots, although some adults have little to no visible pattern.

Although they were 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.

Minimum terrarium size for Children’s pythons

The absolute minimum terrarium size for a Children’s python is 36”L x 18”W x 16”H. Of course, larger is always better! It’s important to provide plenty of room for the snake to stretch out fully, explore, and exercise.

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

Cohabitation (keeping multiple Children’s pythons in one enclosure) is optional, but not required for this species’ wellbeing. 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.

Do Children’s pythons need UVB?

Technically they can survive without it, but we still recommend providing appropriate UVB lighting for Children’s pythons. UVB lighting helps provide a clear day/night cycle, provides all of the vitamin D that your pet needs, strengthens the immune system, facilitates better digestion, and other benefits. 

The best UVB bulbs for Children’s pythons are:

  • Zoo Med Reptisun T5 HO 5.0
  • Arcadia Forest 6%

For best results, use a bulb half the length of the enclosure and house it in a reflective fixture like the Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun Hood. Position the lamp on the same side of the terrarium as the heat lamp, no closer than 6” above the basking surface.

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 every 12 months!

Lights should be on for about 13 hours/day during summer and 11 hours/day during winter, with gradual adjustments in between.

Best temperature for Children’s pythons

Like other reptiles, Children’s pythons are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on external temperatures to manage their own body temperature and metabolism. A reptile’s enclosure should offer a range of temperatures to allow them to thermoregulate effectively.

Specifically speaking, Children’s pythons should have a basking temperature between 90-100°F. On the other side of the enclosure, the temperature should be around 75-80°F. Temperatures should be measured with two digital probe thermometers to monitor the thermal gradient.

Provide heat for your snake with at least one halogen flood heat bulb, placed over the basking area (ex: a piece of flagstone or stone paver) to evenly heat the snake’s entire body. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective. Turn heating off at night.

Best humidity levels for Children’s pythons

Children’s pythons tend to do well anywhere between 20-80% humidity. The key is to make sure they always have access to fresh water and a humid hide. You can create a humid hide by lining a plastic or resin reptile cave with moistened sphagnum moss and placing in the middle to cool part of the enclosure. Humidity should be measured via digital probe hygrometer, with the probe placed in the middle of the terrarium.

Best substrate for Children’s pythons

Providing a thick layer of naturalistic substrate (“bedding”) will help cushion your snake’s body, maintain correct humidity levels, and also helps make your enclosure more attractive! We recommend the following substrates for Children’s pythons:

  • Exo Terra Snake Bedding
  • Zoo Med Repti Chips
  • Zoo Med Repti Sand
  • Exo Terra Desert Sand

Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate can also help with humidity.

Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.

How to decorate a Children’s python terrarium

An empty terrarium makes for a bored snake, reducing its quality of life. Keep your pet entertained and engaged with its environment with the strategic use of décor items that encourage it to exercise natural behaviors!

At bare minimum, a Children’s python enclosure must contain substrate, a water bowl, and at least a couple of places for the snake to hide. However, it’s best to include other items such as:

What to feed to a Children’s python

Children’s pythons are carnivorous, which means that they need to eat whole animal prey in order to get the right nutrition. Here is a basic feeding schedule based on snake age:

  • 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 or no more than 1.5x its width at its widest point. Although live prey can be offered, it’s best to use frozen whenever possible. Prey should be thawed in a BPA-free plastic bag in warm water until it reaches ~100°F, then 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 young mice and rats, try hamsters, gerbils, button quail, and even feeder lizards to create nutritional variety in your snake’s diet!

Supplements

Children’s pythons can survive without dietary supplements, but using them every once in a while can help prevent your snake from developing a nutritional deficiency, helping it to live healthier. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD, lightly dusted on the prey item before offering.

Water

Of course, don’t forget a water bowl for your snake to drink from and soak in! This bowl should be large enough for the snake to soak its entire body when desired. 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. That being said, Children’s pythons generally tolerate human interaction pretty well! Even if the snake bites because it mistook you for food, they’re too small to do significant damage, and it’s usually fairly painless. Just stay calm and they’ll eventually figure out their mistake.

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!


*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!


"File:Childrens Python (Antaresia childreni) (8692421368).jpg" by Matt from Melbourne, Australia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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