Tyrannosaurus Pets

Royal Python (Python regius) Care Sheet

Royal pythons are a small African snake.  Rarely exceeding five feet in length they are a good choice for someone wanting to own a python with out the issue of excessive size.

Royals are docile and hardy providing they are housed correctly.  A lot of the royals available are either captive farmed or wild caught.  These snakes do not make good pets.  They can be loaded with parasites, and it can be difficult to get them feeding on common food items.  However a true captive bred snake makes an excellent pet. 

Housing Your Royal Python

A vivarium with dimensions of 36” x 18” x 18” is suitable for a royal its’ whole life, any tank larger than this can cause a royal to stop feeding as they feel more secure in a smaller enclosure.  Most royal pythons especially if they are captive bred specimens with a good feeding record will be fine going straight into a tank of this size.

As royals need a steady stable night temperature as well as a high daytime temperature, a ceramic heating system is the best choice to heat your tank.  As ceramic heaters get far hotter than a standard light bulb of the same wattage, a normal light fitting is not suitable for a ceramic heater.  Do not use a screw fitting to bayonet fitting converter as these are not designed for this heat.  The best fittings to use have a hook to hang them from the ceiling.  Once the fitting has been wired hang this from a picture hook in the top of the tank.  Place the ceramic bulb in the fitting and then fit the guard.  It is easier to fit the guard if the tank is upside down. Before turning the tank over remove the glass as it will fall out.

Plug the heater into the thermostat.  The probe from the thermostat needs to come into the tank one third to halfway down, and hang about two inches from the floor. It looks neater if the cable is held in some conduit, but make sure the black section is exposed to ensure an accurate reading.  Set the thermostat to a background temperature of 28◦c, this is an estimate but should get the temperatures close to the desired level.  Put the thermometer directly under the lamp, either on the floor, or on top of a hide if there is one under the bulb.  Leave the tank to settle and check the temperature after 2 hours.  It should be 32◦c - 34◦c.  If the tank is not this temperature then adjust the thermostat.  Only move the dial a small amount as even a small tweak can make a big difference.  After adjusting the thermostat leave the tank for a further two hours and recheck the temperatures.  Keep adjusting and checking until the tank maintains at the desired temperature.  At night the temperature can be allowed to drop down to around 24’c.  The easiest way to achieve this is to use a thermostat with a night drop facility.

Daily Care for Your Royal

A common mistake with royal pythons is to assume that as they are an African snake they should be kept bone dry.  Royals actually live in burrows with an elevated humidity level.  To replicate this in captivity we use orchid bark chippings.  This absorbs water when sprayed and helps to keep the humidity in the tank slightly higher.  Take care to ensure that the tank is not wet through, as too high humidity is as bad as too low.  To maintain the humidity gently spray the tank two or three times per week.  When the snake is in shed spray the tank daily.  This should enable the python to shed its skin all in one piece.

The snake requires a hide in both the warm and the cool sections of the tank.  This allows the snake to feel secure at whatever temperature it wishes.  Additional décor may also help the snake to adapt to the new enclosure.

Place the water dish in the cool end, more towards the middle of the tank if space is cramped.  The water in the dish needs to be changed daily.

When you change the water remove any mess in the tank.  If this spot cleaning is done regularly then the tank will only require a full clean out once every four to six weeks.  When cleaning the tank or any décor don’t use household detergents, as these can be toxic to reptiles.  Any good pet shop will carry a range of reptile specific pet disinfectants.

Feeding Your Ball Python

Young Royals should be fed once every seven days.  As the snake grows increase the size of the meals. If the next size of prey item is too big for your snake to mange then feed it two of the current size.  The snake’s behaviour will tell you when it is ready for bigger food.  If after eating the snake goes into its hide and you don’t see it for a couple of days then it is content with the current food.  However if after eating the snake spends thirty minutes searching the tank, or is out and active the day after, then it is ready for a larger meal.  It can take a snake several days to fully digest a meal.  If a snake is disturbed too soon it can cause the animal to regurgitate.  To ensure that this does not happen always leave a snake alone for forty eight hours after it has eaten.

In the wild royal pythons go through a period of natural fasting.  This period coincides with our winter.  A lot of people have problems with royals as they can stop feeding for months, for no apparent reason.  A main cause of this is the animal has eaten regularly for one, two, or even three years without the fasting break.  During this time it has laid down a fat store to burn off through those days of fasting.  It can take the snake up to a year to burn off this fat store and get to a condition where it feels the need to feed again.  If we withhold food for a three month period, mimicking the snake’s natural behaviour it will maintain a healthy weight and be eager to feed through the remaining nine months.

Royal pythons are quite a nervous snake, but rather than trying to bite or escape like most other snakes they simply sit still or curl into a ball.  This does not mean that they are happy with being handled they just deal with it in a different way. Excessive handling can cause a royal python to go off its food.  If this happens stop handling the snake completely until it starts to eat again.  A newly acquired snake should not be handled until it has eaten at least four meals while in your care.

Royal pythons, like all snakes regularly shed their skin.  While preparing to shed the snake’s colours will appear muted and its eyes will go milky blue.  While it takes about a week for the old skin to soften, it only takes a matter of minutes for the snake to peel it off.  When the snake is preparing to shed it can feel irritable and more vulnerable than normal.  Because of this don’t handle the snake or try to feed it while it’s in shed.

After the snake has shed, check no skin is stuck on, if left this can cause problems for the future.  Always check the old skin to make sure the eye caps have come off.  If any skin is stuck contact Tyrannosaurus Pets for further information.  The only time the snake can be handled during its initial settling in period is if it sheds, as it will need to be checked over.

<<Back to Information Sheets

Tyrannosaurus Pets