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Guide to Keeping a Royal Python
RESOURCE ARTICLE

Guide to Keeping a Royal Python

Introduction

Buying any pet is a big decision but there are several things you may want to consider first to make sure that a Royal Python (Python regius) is the pet for you:

  • Are all of the people in your household happy with a snake coming to live there?
  • Can you guarantee that you will have a regular supply of frozen food items to feed to your snake?
  • Are you happy to keep frozen mice and rats in your freezer at home?
  • Are you prepared to look after an animal that could live up to and beyond 30 years?
  • Is there someone that you can ask to look after your pet if you are away?
  • Royal Pythons are nocturnal animals so will sleep in the day and be awake during the night.

Types of Royal Pythons

Royal Pythons come in many different colours and patterns including brown, white, yellow and black. At last count, there were approximately 5,000 different varieties. Here are some of the most popular:

Buying a Royal Python

We recommend buying a Royal Python from a reputable pet shop. The shop will also be able to help you with a supply of good quality frozen food items to feed to your python.

Check before purchasing:

The Python is feeding well.
Any reputable pet shop will be able to show you a feeding record for the python that you intend to purchase; this record may be in the form of a feeding card which should be available to view on request.
The Python is healthy.
5 point animal health check:
  • Make sure that the animal is alert and responsive
  • The mouth should be clear of any thick mucus and should not smell bad
  • The underside of the snake should be clean, free from sores or raw skin and have a clean vent
  • The python should be able to support itself when handled
  • The python should be a regular feeder

Caring For Your Royal Python

Overview:

  • Ease of Care: Beginner
  • Adult Size:155cm+ (61"+)
  • Life Span:Up to 30 years
  • Diet:Rodents
  • Temperament:Friendly
  • Background Temp:28.9-31.1⁰C (84-88⁰F)
  • HOT Spot:32.2⁰C (90⁰F)

Equipment Needed:

Top Tips

  • Male Royal Pythons are smaller than females when fully grown.
  • Royal Pythons will normally feed in a certain way. Find out which way your python prefers to be offered food, this will help with future feeding.
  • If your python refuses to feed try offering a smaller or larger food item.
  • A Royal Python will normally refuse food when it is about to shed so wait until the python has fully shed before feeding.
  • Monitor humidity closely using a Hygrometer to maintain correct levels.

Environment

Heating

Royal Pythons are an ectothermic (cold-blooded) animal, all of their heat requirements are taken from external sources. Royal Pythons originate from Africa where they are subjected to high temperatures. This allows them to function normally and aids the digestion of any prey item which they capture. Different heat sources are required depending on the type of housing selected.

Heating a Terrainium

To replicate these conditions in a Terrainium, we recommend using a heat mat that is thermostatically controlled as a heat source. The heat mat should be inserted into the glass holder located in the base of the Terrainium to ensure that the Royal Python does not come directly into contact with it.

The heat mat should be used in conjunction with a heat mat thermostat.

Heat mat thermostats are designed to regulate temperatures using a thermostat probe (also known as a sensor).

Correct placement of the probe is critical to avoid overheating and injury to the python.

Insert the probe through the back of the terrainium via the rubber grommet and tape directly onto the glass panel above the heat mat. The probe cable should be taped 2-5cm (1-2”) back from the actual probe sensor to allow for a correct temperature reading and avoid it becoming dislodged. Carefully place the substrate on top.

Heating a Vivarium

To provide an appropriate heat source in a Vivarium we recommend using a ceramic heat bulb that is thermostatically controlled.

The ceramic heat bulb should be set up using a ceramic bulb holder, which can be hung from the roof of the vivarium, approximately 15-20cms from one side.

The ceramic heat bulb should be used in conjunction with a pulse thermostat.

Pulse thermostats are designed to regulate temperatures using a thermostat probe (also known as a sensor).

Correct placement of the probe is critical to avoid overheating and injury to the python.

The probe should be positioned on the floor in the basking area and the probe cable should be taped to the floor 2-8cm (1-3”) back from the actual probe sensor. This will ensure an accurate temperature reading and prevent the probe becoming dislodged. Carefully place the substrate on top of the probe cable leaving just the probe above the surface.

A Spotlight Guard should be used to surround the ceramic heat bulb to prevent the animal coming into direct contact with the heat source.

Temperature and Monitoring

As a rough guide, daytime temperatures should be between 27.8-32.2⁰C (82-90⁰F) with the hot end being 31-32.2⁰C (88-90⁰F) going down to 27.8-28.9⁰C (82-84⁰F) at the cooler end of the enclosure. Night-time temperatures should remain the same as the day time temperatures. Make sure temperatures are checked regularly to ensure that there are no extreme fluctuations.

Lighting

A UV light can be provided but it is not essential to the python’s wellbeing. If a UV light is used, ensure that it is fitted correctly and securely to avoid any injuries to the snake. LED lighting can also be used to provide a day and night light cycle for the Royal Python.

Substrates and Decoration

Personal choice will dictate how you decorate your Terrainium or Vivarium but we recommend the following as a guide:

  • Substrates: A substrate which is easy to spot clean such as Orchid Bark, Aspen or Natracel.
  • Wood for hiding under, crawling on and to help with shedding.
  • Artificial or live plants for decoration and to provide darker areas for the Royal Python to hide away.
  • Hide to allow the python to hide away if it chooses to and give it an area to feel safe and secure.

Diet and Water

Hatchlings through to Adults should be offered appropriately sized defrosted rodents. As a general rule, the feed size offered to your snake should be no larger in diameter than 1-1.5 times the width of the snake at its widest point.

A source of fresh water must always be available for these snakes to drink and soak in. The water source should be positioned at the cool end of the enclosure to prevent the water from evaporating quickly and causing an unwanted humidity increase.

The humidity should be kept at around 55-65% to maintain the python’s optimum living conditions and wellbeing. This level of humidity will also aid the python to shed easily.

It is important to monitor the humidity level:

Too high and the enclosure will become excessively moist encouraging bacteria to develop thus increasing the risk of disease.

Too low and the python may have issues with shedding.

To maintain the correct humidity level a small amount of water should be added to the substrate which will raise the humidity level, repeat this process until the desired humidity level is reached.

Supplementation

Royal Pythons do not require any form of supplementation as long as your frozen food is purchased from a reputable supplier.

Health & Hygiene

Always wash your hands, surfaces and equipment with warm water and disinfectant immediately before and after handling your python, their enclosure and any other equipment.

Additional Information

A Royal Python’s size and how quickly it is growing will dictate how regularly the python sheds. As a general rule, a young python will shed every 3 to 6 weeks and an older python every 2 to 6 months.

The best way to tell that your Royal Python is going to shed its skin is to look at its general colour and eyes. The Royal Python will appear duller than normal and may have a washed out look. This will become more obvious as the Royal Python nears shedding its skin. The python’s eyes will appear clouded at first and will eventually turn a bluey/grey colour. Normal colouration will return once the Royal Python has shed its skin.

 

Frequently Asks Questions

  • How big will my Royal Python grow?

    Royal Pythons usually obtain a length of around 120-155cms (48-60"). Females are normally bigger than males.

  • My Royal Python keeps rolling up into a ball when touched?

    This is a defence mechanism which the python uses to keep its head and stomach area out of harm’s way. Royal Pythons are also known as Ball Pythons due to this interesting behaviour.

  • Why does my Royal Python keep sticking his tongue out?

    Royal Pythons sense what is going on around them using many different processes, one of which is scent. Even though pythons have nostrils they use their tongues to pick up the actual scent from the air. Miniscule scent particles are picked up by the python’s tongue and passed back into the python’s Jacobson organ in the roof of its mouth which processes this information to help the python build up a picture of its surroundings and locate prey items.

  • How do I know what size of frozen rodents to feed my Royal Python?

    As a general rule, the feed size offered to your Royal Python should be no larger in diameter than 1-1.5 times the width of the snake at its widest point.

  • What is the best way to feed my Royal Python?

    We recommend using feeding tweezers to offer food to your python. Click here to see a short video of some of our favourite feeding techniques.

  • How long will my Royal Python live for?

    A Royal Python can live for up to 30 years in captivity, if cared for correctly.

  • How can I tell what sex my Royal Python is?

    We have put together a video to demonstrate how to sex a snake. Click on the video link below

  • My Royal Python seems to have mites, what do you recommend?

    We stock several mite removers. Choose from either a chemical based treatment or a natural alternative. Mites are pinhead sized black and sometimes red creatures which can usually be seen on the soft parts of your snake:

    - Around the eyes and nostrils

    - In-between and under the scales

    If your snake appears to be spending a lot of time in the water bowl this is often a sign that it may have mites as it is trying to drown the mites.

  • What other types of beginner snake are there?

    Corn Snake and Milk Snake

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