Snakes are a great pet for many reasons. They are easy to take care of, are independent, aren’t extremely messy, and so much more. This includes the beautiful Spotted Python. The spotted python is a small python species from Australia and New Guinea also know as the Eastern Children’s python or the eastern small-blotched python. Hopefully, this spotted python care guide will help you decide if it is the right pet for you.
There are many things you will have to consider when you are taking care of a Spotted Python. They are great pets for beginners, but you will have many things to learn if this is your first pet snake.
With this guide, you will know everything you need to so that your snake thrives and so that you can be the best snake owner around.
Spotted Python Size And Appearance
The Spotted Python is considered to be a small-sized python that grows around 2 to 4 feet long. It has a thin body and a spear-shaped head. They are normally found in Australia, so the spear-shaped head doesn’t indicate that they are poisonous.
They often weigh about 2 to 3 pounds and are considered the smallest amongst the breeds of pythons. Their small size is one of the major reasons that people are drawn to these types of snakes.
These species of snake have dark splotches over a tan-grey-like color. The blotches are larger near the center of the snake and turn into stripes near the tail and head of the serpent.
Spotted Python Lifespan
Proper spotted python care can greatly impact the lifespan of your snake. Most snakes have a lifespan anywhere between 10 to 25 years old. The Spotted Python can live to the latter side of that lifespan. They live to be anywhere between 20 to 25 years. When you get this snake, you will have a friend for quite some time.
Though this is great news, you must also consider the fact that a spotted python is a long commitment. So please do not take this lightly as all pet snakes deserve a good lifelong home.
Spotted Python Temperament
Their temperament is one reason this snake is a great option for when someone first starts out having pets in the serpent family. They are great beginner snakes because they are docile and not very aggressive.
They are quite shy, and so they do need a little time to warm up to you. If you try to handle it too much without this “get to know you” stage, you will find that it might try to bite you. Because of this, you need to be careful when handling it in the beginning.
However, once they get used to you they typically have a docile temperament. All and all, spotted pythons make great pet snakes and once they get used to handling they can be a lot of fun.
Handling Your Spotted Python
Be careful when handling the babies. Young snakes are shy and maybe a little skittish. If they do not trust you, they will see you as a threat and may try to bite you. There are many signs you will see before they strike:
- Their tail flicks back and forth.
- The rear backs their head.
- The snake may seem like they are panting.
- Their tail may become upright for leverage.
- They curl into a small ball for protection.
Remember to be on alert when you first start handling your snake until it has gotten to know you. With that being said, you should also follow these general outlines when you are handling your snake to reduce striking and making your snake feel comfortable:
- Wash your hands before handling your pet.
- Wash your hands after handling them.
- Support their body.
- Do not hold them right before, during, or 24 hours after feeding.
- Do not hold them if they seem agitated or show signs of striking.
Remember to respect your snake’s boundaries. They will let you know if they do not want to be held. Ensure you handle them with care because they are small snakes and may not have the durability as larger snakes.
Spotted Python Diet
Proper diet is an essential aspect of spotted python care. This type of python is considered a carnivore, meaning that they only consume meat. Their meal should consist of mice or rats. You can feed them frozen and thawed dead rodents, but they can eat rodents that are alive as well. They may even prefer the living over the dead food but feeding them live prey can increase the chances of injuring your snake.
Young hatchlings should eat small or newborn mice because they are so small. Hatchlings and adult Spotted pythons should never eat anything much larger than the widest part of their body. Anything bigger than that can harm your snake.
Adult pythons are large enough to be fed larger-sized rodents. However, the same rules apply that prey should be no larger than the largest part of their body.
Spotted pythons are well-known for their appetite and can eat quite a bit compared to other breeds of snakes. Growing spotted pythons eat about twice per week. As they reach adulthood they can be fed every 5-7 days. Spotted pythons that are over two years old may not need to be fed as often. At this stage, you can feed them a decent-sized meal every 7-14 days.
You can feed your pet in its enclosure. There is no reason not to. Your snake will not become aggressive when fed there. Just make sure to give it ample time to digest its food. It usually takes about a day.
If your snake is having difficulty feeding, here are some tips you can follow to help with their feeding (source: Spruce Pets ):
- Warm the prey
- Use feeding forceps
- Add extra scent
- Make the food familiar
- Try a different color
- If it’s frozen, cut it open
- Try a different type of prey
- Put it in a new enclosure
- Change up the feeding time
- Give a different size of prey
- Don’t feed during your pet’s shedding
- Keep your snake warm
- Refrain from handling your snake around feeding
Changing up your snake’s routine can help tremendously when it’s not eating or seems hungry but disinterested in the food you have already provided.
The enclosure should have fresh water available at all times. Make sure you are changing it often. Stale water can grow bacteria that are unsafe for both you and your snake. And you don’t want that type of bacteria to grow inside the enclosure as well.
If it gets dirty, you will want to wash it out and put new water in it. Wash the bowl immediately when it is dirty. Do not wait a few days. You can wash it with soap and water. If it is dishwasher safe, you can also put it through a cycle.
The size of the water bowl should be large enough for the snake to bathe in it. Snakes love to soak in the water often, so it should be big enough to house most of the snake’s body. The bowl should be heavy as well so that it doesn’t accidentally tip over. Just make sure that the bowl is easy enough for your spotted python to go in and out of.
Do Spotted Pythons Need Vitamins And Supplements
There are certain vitamins and minerals that are very important for spotted pythons. That said, if you are feeding them whole prey you will likely not need to supplement with extra vitamins and minerals.
That said, here are two things that are essential for spotted python health. But again this will likely not be a problem if you are feeding them the proper diet. If for some reason you feel they are deficient in nutrition consult with your veterinarian to see if you need to add extra supplementation.
Calcium is important for many reasons, including building healthy bones, needed for muscle strength, a healthy digestive system, and a strong nervous system. Often, phosphorous builds up within snakes, and calcium helps reduce that.
If your reptile doesn’t absorb enough calcium, they can get a deficiency. This deficiency is called secondary nutritional hyperthyroidism. This disease can cause some troublesome shedding problems.
If your snake is quite active during the daytime, it should be getting enough Vitamin D. This is only if the enclosure is located where sunlight can get to their home. If there is no sunlight getting to them, you might want to add UVB lighting to provide this vitamin for your snake.
Signs Of Deficiencies
Although most snakes may never show signs of deficiencies, many captive snakes may develop these. Here are some of those signs that may warrant a visit with a veterinarian:
- Behavior change.
- Lethargy (excluding during shedding).
- Weight loss.
- Difficulty shedding.
- Not eating.
- Isn’t drinking.
- Hasn’t defecated two to three days after feeding.
- Doesn’t shed.
- Noticeable discharge is the snake’s eyes or mouth.
Try not to diagnose your snake by yourself. This can result in improper care or a misdiagnosis. Contact your local veterinarian so you can set up an appointment and get your pet seen by a professional.
Spotted Python Enclosure Sizing and Requirments.
One of the most important things you must know when caring for the spotted python is proper housing. The enclosure may change over time as your python grows older. It can start differently from a 10-20 gallon enclosure when it is young. You can choose many types of enclosures for your snake, including:
- Snake racks
- Glass Aquarium
- Plastic-type enclosure
- Wooden with glass or plexiglass walls.
As the python gets larger and older, you will need to increase the area of the enclosure. A full-grown spotted python should be in an enclosure that is roughly 3 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 1.5-2 feet tall. You can even create your own multi-level tank if you are feeling a little adventurous. Snakes love this!
If you choose an enclosure that is mainly glass, you will need to add a few things to help with the humidity inside. Add a humid hide. It is a product similar to moss, so that it traps in some moisture. This is especially useful when your snake is shedding.
With any type of enclosure, you will want to double-check that it has a secure latch. If it doesn’t have one, you will need to install one. You don’t want your snake escaping and going somewhere it shouldn’t. It will seek out a warm area, and sometimes that can be dangerous for it.
Best Substrate For Spotted Pythons
The substrate is the bedding in your snake’s environment and is very important when caring for the spotted python. There are many types that you can choose from when deciding on a substrate:
- Cypress mulch
- Aspen shavings
- Coconut fiber bedding
- Paper towels
All of these are safe for your Spotted python to slither through. You will want to see which one is best for you as each product has its pros and cons. The most important thing is that some substrates hold humidity better than others.
When choosing your substrate, there are a few that you do want to avoid. Here are some that you should steer away from:
- Pine shavings
- Cedar shavings
- Artificial Turf
- Recycled fiber
- Pellet Products
These products can be dangerous to your snake. They can either ingest it and get sick from it, or they can be harmed by the terrain of the substrate. Some also may not hold humidity or can grow bacteria that isn’t healthy for your snake.
Decore is great for your snake to exercise and practice its natural instincts. You can also change up the decor now and then to keep them entertained. Here are some options you can choose from when adding a little decoration:
- A branch
- A rock for sunbathing
- Artificial foliage
- Two places to hide
- Water bowl
You will want to provide at least two places for your pet to hide. Snakes love to have a place they can nap and protect themselves, so this will only help them feel secure. Logs that are hallowed are great because they can provide a perch to lay upon while a place to hide.
Artificial foliage will make the environment seem more natural and give it the sense of being in the wild. You want the environment to be similar to its natural habitat. Branches are great for climbings. You will find that your snake might like to wrap itself around it for exercise. Just make sure that you purchase these items online or at a pet shop.
Never pick something up from the backyard or from the woods. This is simply due to the fact that it might be infested with mites or something else that might be harmful to your spotted python.
Proper Temperature And Humidity For Spotted Pythons
One thing you must get right when caring for the spotted python is proper temperatures and humidity. Snakes are innately cold-blooded, meaning they don’t have the systems in place like mammals where they can warm themselves up. They will need to be warmed externally and cannot withstand any environment that gets too cold.
They do not have the processes to keep themselves warm. There should be a warmer side and a cooler side of your spotted python’s enclosure. The cooler side of the enclosure should have temperatures of around 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit and the warmer side 85-90 degrees.
It is best practice to provide a basking spot on the warmer side that your snake can voluntarily travel to when it wants to warm up. The basking spot can reach temperatures in the low 90s. You can use a heating lamp or heating pad to keep this area warmer. Many snake owners use both for this area.
When placing a heating pad, make sure it is outside the enclosure to keep it from burning your snake.
Humidity is imperative to keep your snake’s skin healthy. You don’t want its skin to dry out. It can make shedding difficult. The humidity level should be about 45% to 55%, and you can do this in a number of ways. Here are some things that help with humidity:
- Hand misters
- Humid hide
- Spray bottle
- Proper substrate
If you are using a spray bottle, you only need to spray the enclosure once or twice a day. Use room temperature water. Try to refrain from using cold water as it can startle your snake. Don’t use hot water either as it may disrupt them, and if it is too hot, it can harm them.
If you think there is too much humidity in the tank, you can ventilate the habitat to reduce the humidity. It is okay if the humidity is slightly higher than average; just make sure it’s not too thick.
Do Spotted Pythons Require UVB Lighting?
Lighting is important in a variety of ways. Your pet needs it to get the right vitamins and staying warm. You will need a basking lamp for when your snake wants to warm up.
Your snake does need natural lighting. Its original habitat is Australia that is normally hot and humid. Make sure they get plenty of sunlight. If you do not think they are getting enough sunlight, install a UVB light. It will provide the vitamin D3 that your pet needs.
Spotted Python Care Overview
Although the Spotted Python is a great starter snake, they still need much-needed attention like any other pet. Caring for a spotted python is a long commitment that can last over 25 years. That said, if you are up for it the spotted python might be an excellent choice for you.
Being well-researched about your snake will only help you understand it better and be a better caretaker. This is another life you are responsible for, so make sure that you give you spotted python all the love and care it needs.