snake-care

How to Care for Your Burmese Python

February 10, 2021

burmese python

Description

Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) are giant, 10’-15’ long, nocturnal snakes native to the tropical lowlands of Southeast Asia. Burmese pythons generally have a mottled pattern on the dorsal surface in shades of  tan, brown, beige or black, with a creamy underside. A variety of alternative patterns are available in captivity.

As giant snakes, burmese pythons can reach 200 pounds in adulthood and require at least two people present for handling. Although they are considered the most docile of the giants, they still need to be taken seriously. Given their large size, burmese pythons are advanced-level pets and should only be considered if you have enough space to house one properly.

Housing

The minimum enclosure size for a burmese python is 8-10’L x 4-5’W x 4-5”H. Burmese pythons are strong, powerful snakes and it’s important that the enclosure be well secured to keep them from escaping and getting into trouble. Of course, if at all possible, larger should be provided to offer more crawling and climbing space.  

Appropriate substrates should be humidity-friendly and absorbent, such as cypress mulch, soil, and coconut fiber/chips. Spot-clean to remove soiled substrate frequently, and totally replace the substrate regularly.

In addition to substrate, you will need multiple places for your burmese python to hide so it feels secure. Halved dog kennels can work well, but if it’s difficult to find a structure to accomplish this, well placed logs, cork bark or fake vines should serve as reasonable hiding places. 

A water bowl should also be provided, large enough for the snake to soak itself. Plastic tubs work well for this. Clean out the pool regularly to keep the water fresh and clean, along with scrubbing with animal-safe disinfectant.

Ambient humidity in the enclosure should be around 60%. It can be maintained through a variety of techniques including daily misting with a pressure sprayer, automatic misting systems, and cool-mist humidifiers.

Heating and Lighting

Since burmese pythons are nocturnal, they can technically survive without access to UVB lighting. However, it is still beneficial in several ways and should be provided. The bulb should be Zoo Med or Arcadia, mounted in a reflective fixture, and half the length of the enclosure. Replace the bulb every 12 months to maintain its output.

The cage should be heated on one side to maintain a basking air temperature in the mid 80’s.  Use a cluster of halogen flood heat lamps to create a basking area large enough to heat the entire snake’s coiled body evenly. Placing the heat source on one side of the enclosure creates a heat gradient allowing the snake to move to a different part of the enclosure if it desires to be cooler. Drop the ambient temperature into the high 70’s at night. Radiant heat panels connected to a thermostat can be used to maintain appropriate nighttime temps.

Food and Supplementation

Burmese pythons are carnivorous, like other snakes. In captivity, they primarily eat large mammals such as rabbits and young pigs, as well as whole birds such as chickens. Choose the size of the feeder with the size of the snake. Most adult burmese pythons should be fed a single frozen thawed prey item every 4-8 weeks. Young snakes should be fed more often. However, burmese pythons are known to eat relatively rarely in the wild and may refuse food if fed too often.

Although burmese pythons should be able to obtain all their nutritional needs from a whole prey diet, supplementing can help cover the gaps in their nutrition. Occasionally dust or inject the feeder with Repashy CalciumPlus LoD to provide extra calcium, vitamin D3 and a variety of other vitamins and minerals.


*This care sheet contains only very basic information. If you are new to burmese pythons, please do additional research to obtain additional information from more detailed care sheets.


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