Reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus) are a large sized constrictor native southern Asia. Retics can range anywhere from 6 to 20 feet, with females being larger than the males. In captivity the snakes can live an upwards of 20 years if taken care of properly. Being constrictors, the snakes squeeze their prey, both suffocating them and blocking blood flow to the brain while simultaneously crushing bone to make it sufficient to swallow whole. In captivity, retics can be fed either live prey or frozen/thawed (F/T) prey. I personally feed F/T so that my snakes never associate movement with food and to reduce their risk of prey attacking the snake. Their diets (depending on the size of their midsection) consist of rodents, chicks, fetal pigs, and rabbits. As a baby and as an adolescent, the retics need to be fed weekly, with the exception of when the retic refuses food (due to being in shed). As an adult, the retic does not need to eat more than once a month as obesity is a common issue with large constrictors.
Their enclosure can be simple, mine are kept in Boaphiles Plastic cages. A general rule of thumb is that the retic should not be able to touch its head to its tail if it were to wrap around the perimeter of the cage, but bigger is always better! A simple substrate of newspaper or paper towel is sufficient to keep humidity while also being easy to clean. In addition the snakes need a hut to hide it to prevent stress from always being seen. Of course, the snakes need a water dish both to drink from and to soak in if they are hot or dry. The dish should be large enough for the snake to soak in if they choose.
Snakes are cold blooded which means they need to thermoregulate in order to remain healthy. One end of the cage needs to be the warmer side with temperatures in the lower 90's degrees F. I prefer to use a heating pad which is placed on the bottom of the enclosure so the snake can sit on it. Without proper underbelly heat, the snake can not digest an in turn the food in their stomachs will rot. The cooler end of the cage should not drop below 70 degrees F. Snakes also need humidity, and being a south American snake, boas need humidity in the 60%-70% range in order to shed properly. It is imperative that all the shed comes off the boa every time they shed including the tips of their tales, their eye caps, and their nose plugs. Bad sheds are a sign of too low humidity. I suggest getting a cage that has minimal openings to keep heat and humidity inside. You will know when your snake is going into shed because first their bellies will turn a pinkish-salmon and soon after their whole body will dull with their eyes clouding up and becoming blue. During this time the snake is incredibly vulnerable as they cannot see and their skin is sensitive. The snake may be aggressive/defensive and may not eat during this time.
Retics are very food oriented, which means they will be interested in anything they think may be food, including your hand. It is important to be able to read the signs of the snake to ensure you won't get bit. Just as a precaution, I typically open the cage and gently tap the snake on the head and back with a hook and proceed to pull them out with the hook until I can comfortably pull the snake out by hand.
I am Lilly Elkin, the owner and founder of Radical Reptile Rescue. Here I will put different posts on reptile care. I will only post blogs on either animals I personally own, or are very knowledgeable about. I will not post on an animal unless I am certain of its care. If you have any questions on the care of an animal, feel free to comment and ask!
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