Tyrannosaurus Pets

Reticulated Python Care Sheet

Python reticulatus 

Reticulated Pythons are giant snakes. Adults range between 10 and 33 feet. Most are around 14-20 feet. Females are generally the larger sex but this is not a rule and males can still reach 16 feet. 

They are found naturally in Indonesia and the surrounding islands. There are numerous localities of reticulated python and this can determine adult size. Certain island races only reach 6 feet and are referred to as super dwarfs. These are not as common in captivity. Yet other island races may reach 8-14 feet. These are referred to as dwarfs. All can be kept exactly the same but obviously the adult enclosure will be determined by the locality of the snake.

Reticulated pythons are intelligent snakes and have been known to learn routines and recognise different people. Because of their large size and often difficult temperaments these snakes are NOT for beginners. Dwarfs and super dwarfs can make good second or third snakes but experience with handling is a must before purchasing a reticulated python.

The pattern and colours can only be described as cryptic. “Retics” are ambush predators and rely heavily on their camouflage to survive and hunt. They can be anywhere from gold to silver with highlights of red, orange, yellow, green, black, white, grey and purple.

Most youngsters are snappy and irritable snakes with very short tempers. But many with persistent and confident handling will become calmer and more docile. They are never to be trusted though, as these are powerful constrictors and should never be placed around the neck. 

Housing a reticulated python

  • Starting tank size depends on the age and size of the snake you are looking to purchase.  All these snakes will grow extremely quickly, so use a vivarium around 48” x 24” x 24” to house a well settled young animal.  This will last until the snake is around 18 months old when it will need to be moved into it’s adult enclosure.

  • The adult tank for males needs to be at least 6’ x 2’ x 2’ preferably 6’ x 3’ x 3’, for the females at least 8’ x 3’ x 3’ preferably 8’ x 4’ x 3’ high.o For the dwarf reticulated python a tank 4’ x 2 ‘ x 2’ is plenty for a male, while a female would be preferable in a 6’ x 2’ x 2’.

Heating the vivarium

As these snakes 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.o For younger snakes in smaller tanks a single ceramic heater is sufficient.  Using a single lamp in a large tank can result in an extremely high basking temperature in order to heat the cool end.  Using several ceramics arranged in a line or triangle creates a larger basking area.  This is more natural and can benefit the snakes as they can reach the appropriate temperature much more easily.  This system also heats the cool end more efficiently allowing a full gradient of temperatures through the tank.o 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.  In larger adult tanks the probe can come down the corner of the tank behind the heaters.

Because these snakes come from tropical forests they benefit from being sprayed with tepid water. This should be done every couple of days. When the snake is in shed spray daily to allow the skin to slough properly.

Decorating the tank

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.  For the younger snakes a wide range of attractive hides are available.  Larger pythons are quite destructive with their décor so use lightweight or easily secured items.  Litter trays, and dog beds make very good water bowls and hides for these larger animals.  Place the water dish in the cool end, more towards the middle of the tank if space is cramped.

Daily care of your python

Cleaning the tank

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 snake

Young pythons 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.

Older snakes need to be fed less regularly, a large rabbit every three or four weeks is enough for most of these species when they are mature.


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.

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