White-Lipped Python Care Sheet

White-Lipped Python Care Sheet

The white-lipped python is a 5-7’ long, semi-arboreal, nocturnal snake that lives in the northern half of New Guinea. Their preferred habitat is tropical forests, usually near a body of water.

White-lipped pythons have slender but muscular bodies with rectangular heads, vertical pupils, a semi-prehensile tails, and smooth, glossy scales. Their coloring is unique: dark brown on top, golden on the sides, and white on the belly. The head is black, with a white lower jaw and alternating black and white markings on the lips. However, their most striking feature is their unmistakable iridescence in the right light.

White-lipped pythons are advanced-level pets due to their size, sensitivity to inadequate husbandry, and temperament.


We suggest an enclosure of 7’L x 3’W x 4’H. Of course, we find that bigger is always better! This may seem gigantic, but it’s important to keep in mind that all snakes need an enclosure large enough to allow them to fully stretch out, and white-lipped pythons in particular are known to be very active. Ultimately, the best living conditions for white-lipped pythons will depend on their needs and preferences.

Can two white-lipped pythons be kept together? 

We do not recommend cohabitation (keeping multiple white-lipped pythons in one enclosure). 

How to quarantine a white-lipped 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 were exposed to infectious or contagious disease. 

Even if you don’t have other reptiles, quarantine is still crucial because it allows you to closely monitor your snake for signs of illness and administer treatment. You can use your white-lipped pythons’ 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 white-lipped pythons:

  • Keep the snake in a different room from other reptiles, if possible.
  • We suggest using different equipment for your new white-lipped pythons 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 white-lipped pythons 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 white-lipped pythons need UVB?

While white-lipped pythons can survive without UVB lighting, we recommend providing it. 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 white-lipped pythons housed are:

The bulb you buy should be approximately half the length of the enclosure. 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 11-13” above the basking area if over the mesh and 14-16” 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” — it can make your terrarium too hot due to the greenhouse effect. UVB bulbs experience reduced UVB output over time, so replace your bulb about every 12 months to maintain optimum performance.

We suggest leaving lights on for about 8-12 hours daily to follow a natural day-to-night cycle. You can also adjust the lighting based on seasonal changes, running it for more extended periods during the summer and shorter periods during the winter. All lights should be off at night. 

The best temperature for white-lipped pythons

Like other reptiles, white-lipped 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.

White-lipped pythons should generally have a basking/hot spot temperature of 88-92°F, an average ambient temperature of 78-82°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.

It is essential to regulate and monitor the temperature of the heating method chosen. To do this, we suggest using a thermostat, dimmer switch, or rheostat to control the heat output. We recommend using an infrared temperature gun to measure basking/surface temperatures and a digital thermometer to monitor enclosure ambient temperatures.

Overhead heating methods, such as halogen bulbs, are advised to achieve and maintain these temperatures. However, some may opt for alternative eating methods such as deep heat projectors or radiant heat panels. Light-producing heat sources should be turned off at night. However, we advise using supplementary heating if the enclosure gets colder than 68°F at night. You can use a ceramic heat emitter or radiant heat panel connected to a thermostat to do the job for nighttime heat if needed.

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

The best humidity levels for

White-lipped pythons get dehydrated very easily, which can be life-threatening for this species. We strongly recommend monitoring and maintaining average humidity levels between 55-85%.

We suggest using a digital probe hygrometer to measure humidity by placing the probe in the middle of the terrarium. This device will allow you to keep track of the humidity levels and adjust as needed to ensure that your white-lipped python is in a comfortable and healthy environment.

One effective method to increase humidity levels in your white-lipped python's enclosure is misting the enclosure 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 mixing water directly into the substrate on one side, retaining moisture and preventing the enclosure from drying out. You can also provide your snake with a third humid hide lined with moistened sphagnum moss.


Naturalistic Options

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

We recommend the following commercial substrates for white-lipped pythons:

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

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

Ideally, the substrate should be at least 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 white-lipped python enclosures, some keepers prefer to use simpler substrates, such as paper towels. These can be an effective and easy-to-maintain option for keeping your snake's enclosure clean and is especially significant when your snake is still in quarantine.

However, it is essential to 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, regularly replacing the paper towel substrate is recommended to keep your white-lipped python's enclosure clean and prevent mold growth.

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


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.

What to know about cleaning a white-lipped python enclosure

Replacing your white-lipped 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 white-lipped 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 disinfect enclosures by using a diluted bleach solution. For porous materials, a 1:10 dilution is recommended, while for nonporous materials, a 1:50 dilution should be used.

How to decorate a white-lipped python terrarium

We have found that providing environmental enrichment for your white-lipped 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.  

Since white-lipped pythons are semi-arboreal, using the enclosure's available floor space and vertical space is important when possible. You should provide places for hiding and climbing opportunities. You can do this with items such as:

What to feed to a white-lipped python

White-lipped pythons are carnivorous, meaning they must eat whole animal prey for proper nutrition. Here is a basic feeding schedule based on snake age:

  • Hatchlings — every 7-10 days
  • Juveniles  — every 10-14 days
  • Adults — every 14-21 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, African soft-furs, gerbils, chicks, and quail can also be used to add diversity to your snake’s diet. Some white-lipped pythons demonstrate a distinct preference for mice and birds, which are smaller prey items and may require offering multiple prey items per feeding or feeding more frequently.

Note: White-lipped pythons have a unique behavior of occasionally coughing up the furry remains of their meals. This is different from regurgitation, and while alarming at first, it is completely normal.

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 white-lipped 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. 

How to handle your white-lipped python

Reptiles generally don’t appreciate petting and handling in the same way that dogs and cats do. That being said, white-lipped pythons generally tame down quite well. They are known for being aggressive and bitey, but this is a myth! They tend to be defensive and nippy as babies, but that is normal for many snakes. We find when cared for and socialized properly, most white-lipped pythons often become calm, perfectly handleable adults.

Be gentle when picking up your reptile. It is best practice to pick it up from the side or below versus above. Support as much of its body as possible, and NEVER pick it up by its tail, as this can damage its spine! If you are nervous about being bitten, keep it away from your face and wear thick gloves.

How to provide enrichment for a white-lipped python

Enrichment strategically provides items and activities to encourage a captive animal to exercise natural behaviors. It also helps increase activity, reduce stress, and increase the animal’s overall welfare. 

Here are some ways to provide enrichment for white-lipped 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; others might like once a week.
  • Puzzle feeders 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 white-lipped 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


*This care sheet contains only 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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