Burmese Python Care

Photo credit: wwarby
Photo credit: wwarby

Scientific Name: Python Molorus Bivattatus

Sexing and Characteristics:
There are several ways of sexing a snake but the main ones are popping & probing, both of these ways are reliable with probing being the most accurate.
Please note that popping is only suitable for young animals.
If you need your snake sexed, make sure this gets done by a professional.

Hatchling Burmese pythons are between 18” and 24” when born, already a significant size.
Adult male Burmese pythons will average between 8 and 13 ft with females having the ability to reach 14 to 18ft. Lengths in excess of 20ft are not unheard of, particularly for female specimens.

Substrate and Water Needs:
A wide range of appropriate substrates are available for Burmese pythons. Pine & Cedar are to be avoided as these are toxic to reptiles. You can use newspaper or paper towel which are cheap but not very aesthetically appealing, Paper is also an option as it is cheap, easy to clean and hygienic. Aspen, Auboise, Orchid bark or similar is your best option, being fairly cheap and pleasant looking.
You will need a fair sized water bowl, one the snake can submerse its body in, Cat litter trays work well for larger animals.

Lighting and UVB:
Burmese Pythons  have no special lighting requirements but if you do use a basking bulb,ensure the light has a bulb guard to avoid your snake from being burned.

Temperatures & Humidity:
Provide a basking spot of 31-33°C with a thermal gradient fading to about 28°C at the cooler end of the enclosure.
To achieve these temperatures several heating devices can be used such as:

  • Heatmats (Not advised for adult snakes but fine for hatchlings)
  • Basking/Infrared Bulbs
  • Ceramic bulbs

The choice of heating system used is a matter of personal choice, however in ALL cases; a thermostat should be used in conjunction with the heater, in order to avoid burns to the animal, and danger of fire.

  • Burmese Pythons humidity should be around 50-60% which can be increased whilst shedding.
  • Regular misting with tepid water can be provided when they are shedding. during shedding, your snake may also benefit from a 20-30 minute bath in warm water.
  • If help is needed choosing heating/thermostat options, please do not hesitate to contact the Herpetological Society of Ireland & we will guide you in the right direction.

Young Burmese Pythons can be kept in small, secure tubs with a hide on either side and a water bowl.
An adult Burmese python will need a lot of room. For an adult male a minimum enclosure size of 6ftx2ftx2ft is advisable. Adult females will most likely need an 8ftx3ftx2ft enclosure.
Burmese pythons are incredibly strong and as such will need a very secure enclosure. If using glass in the enclosure, it is advisable to use thick laminate glass at minimum, with toughened glass being the preference.
This will be both time consuming and expensive so think long and hard before purchasing one of these animals.

Snakes should be fed appropriately sized DEFROSTED rodent prey (mice/rats/rabbits). Burmese Pythons should be fed food items big enough to leave a noticeable lump in the snake’s belly. Live food should be avoided.

Hatchling Burmese Pythons are able to take fuzzy rats or adult mice for their first feed.
You may feed them every 5 to 7 days at this point.
As the snake grows it will need larger prey items. You will know when they need to go up a size once you can’t see the food item in their belly anymore.
Older Burmese pythons should be fed a large meal every 4-5 weeks to avoid becoming overweight.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:
Generally supplements are not needed because in consuming entire prey animals, snakes obtain a balanced diet containing all necessary nutrients.

The animal’s water supply should be refreshed every 2-3 days. Spot clean the enclosure every few days, and clean it out thoroughly every 1-2 months, using an appropriate disinfectant (savlon/ dettol/ trigene etc.). when using disinfectants, ensure the enclosure is thoroughly aired out before returning the animal.
Handling your Burmese python should help keep them calm & manageable, however avoid handling in the days immediately after feeding your animal.
Handling adult Burmese pythons should be done with care. A good rule of thumb for working with any large snake, is one person for every four feet of snake. This means caring for your burmese python throughout it’s lifetime will require the assistance of a second person for safety purposes. While Burmese pythons are generally placid animals, they have the potential to cause serious harm and death, to even the most experienced of keepers.

Some Words on this Species:
Burmese pythons are very attractive, large snakes and can be manageable providing assistance is always available for handling adult specimens. This species is generally docile and make great display animals. They are typically slow moving snakes with the exception being feeding time. That being said, they are a lot of work and can be dangerous if not handled or dealt with correctly.

Caresheet Courtesey of The Herpetological Society of Ireland 2009


Featured Image Courtesy of wwarby


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