Australian Carpet Python Care Sheet
Carpet pythons make an ideal pet. They are non-venomous, quiet, require minimal maintenance, have minimal odor, fairly docile and feed a maximum of once per week.
They grow to a length of between 1.4 meters for jungle carpets to 3.0 meters for diamond pythons, depending on the sub-species.
The sub species are:
- Centralian Python (Morelia bredli) - central australian desert
- South-Western Carpet Python (Morelia spilota imbicata) - grasslands and woodlands of south west Western Australia
- Jungle Carpet Python (Morelia spilota cheynei) - tropical forest of Atherton tablelands in northern Queensland
- Coastal Carpet Python (Morelia spilota mcdowelli) - coastal areas of Queensland and Northern New South Wales
- Diamond Python (Morelia spilota spilota) - Coastal News South Wales to the Eastern tip of Victoria
- Inland Carpet Python (Morelia spilota metcalfi) - Murray-Darling basin of NSW, Victoria and South Australia
- North-Western Carpet Python (Morelia spilota variegata) (Darwin Carpet Python) - northern Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland
Carpet pythons are generally terrestrial but are also partially arboreal. Given a tree or branch in a cage they will happily climb it. Some species like to climb so some branches can be added. More important however it to make sure there is enough floor space for the snake to move about in. Glass enclosures should be avoided as they lose heat too quickly and are generally too cold for carpet pythons. The enclosure should be escape proof. Hides, such as hollow logs or commercial rock hides need to be provided.
Rocks are useful for shedding and also retain heat while plastic plants make good decorations (real are hard to keep and can cause health issues). Branches also provide areas for the snake to move about on.
Water should always be provided and kept clean, being changed at least once per week. Wash the water bowl out regularly to prevent algal build up.
Glass or plexiglass fronted timber enclosures are the most popular means of housing snakes.
Ventilation is essential but should not be overdone. Warmer climates will require more ventilation to prevent overheating, while cooler climates will only require minimal ventilation to prevent heat loss. Excess ventilation can cause too much temperature variation and lead to health problems.
Carpet pythons are maintained between 820°-90°F (28°-32°C) during the summer months. They may be dropped to as much as 72°F (22°C) in the winter months and 75°F (24°C) at night. The night time temperature should only be reached for a few hours. (Diamond pythons in particular tolerate lower temperatures and may in fact benefit from a wider temperature range, mimicking their wild environment).
A thermometer is an essential piece of equipment when keeping snakes and ideally you will have two or more in a cage.
Monitoring the temperature is an important daily task. Results should be recorded in a diary, along with note on any changes in the animals behavior.
Heat mats and lights are both acceptable forms of heating. The cage should also have a thermal gradient.
UVB is not a necessity but is useful from a psychological point of view as it mimics the light cycle if it is turned on for 8-12 hours per day. ZooMed Reptisun 2.0® would be recommended. Diamond pythons may be the exception to this but this is yet to be determined.
All the snake to move freely over your arms and do not hold it to hard. Continue this until the snake feels comfortable enough to cease moving. Restraining the snake by it's head should be avoided.
Avoid sudden movements and wash your hand before handling the snake, especially if you have been handling food such as rats or chickens.
One tip I have heard to get a snake that has latched on to you to release it's hold is to blow air forcefully into it's mouth, although this may not always be possible. Make sure you are ready to grab its head as soon as it releases its grip.
Ideally you need to handle the snake regularly from a young age.
Carpet pythons should be fed dead prey. Two mice per week or one rat per fortnight is adequate for a 4-5 ft python. You can generally observe when a snake is hungry as will start to hunt.
Live prey should be avoided as they can cause injury to the snake if the snake is not hungry. Live pinkies are useful for young snakes but they should be weaned of these as soon as possible.
The food should be at room or body temperature before being fed.
Some owners remove the snake from the cage for feeding so that the opening of the cage door is not associated with food but rather with handling. The snake is then placed in a large container, such as a plastic bin, for the feeding.
Supplements can be used but many owners report good health without these.
"Keeping Carpet Pythons", 2001, Kortlang & Green, Australian Reptile Publications.
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