RETICULATED PYTHON (Super Dwarf) Caresheet
Common Name: Super Dwarf Riticulated Python
Scientific Name: Python reticulatus
Origin: Native to islands in Southeast Asia where its reticulated color pattern helps it blend into the rainforest environment.
Size: 4-6 feet
Lifespan: 15-20 years
You will find many ways on the internet on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of breeding and caring for this species.
For clarification: We are talking about pure 100% super dwarfs. These super dwarf reticulated python babies can start out in enclosures as small as 15 gallons. At around 8-12 months, you can increase the size of the enclosure. There are several kinds that work for super dwarfs, e.g., glass aquariums, snake racks and any of the commercially available, plastic-type reptile enclosures. For an adult, you can step up to an enclosure that is at least 36" x 18" (Exo Terra Large, or Zilla 40 gal) or a larger 48" x 24" (Zoo Med 50 gal). For adults you will need an enclosure that is at least 3” x 2”. If you use a glass tank, you'll want to provide a humid hide--that is, a hide that has some damp moss in it for humidity or mist the enclosure good when they are in shed. All snakes are skilled escape artists. It's extremely important that your door is clipped or locked to prevent them from getting out.
You can use many types of bedding for your pet. The ones that look and work the best are Zoo Med repti bark, Zoo Med eco earth, and Zoo Med forest floor. Spot clean the bedding whenever they defecate. You should only need to clean the whole thing out about once a month. Disinfect the enclosure and change out the bedding at that time. Zoo Meds wipe out or vinegar and water both work good for cage cleaning.
LIGHTING AND HEAT
Super dwarfs originate from a series of islands in Southeast Asia and they like it warm, though they need to be able to cool off if they want to. Like all reptiles, they are dependent on external thermoregulation to control their body temperature. This essentially means you need to provide both a hot and cool side to your enclosure. All the heat elements should be on one side and the other will then be the cool side. This way your snake can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs.
The hot side basking spot should be at 89-95 degrees. For babies, put one hide there and another hide on the cool side. (Adults usually don't need a hide.) The cool side can be between 75-80 degrees. It's a good idea to use a basking light and an under tank heat pad also. The heat pads are usually placed on the hot side with a hide over it. We recommend a Zoo Med heat mat or that stays on 24/7 to give them a little bit of supplemental heat during the night. Both of these are placed on the outside underneath the enclosure. You want a heat pad that only covers half the tank (or less). The basking light should be housed in a good quality light dome like Exo Terra and Flukers that has a ceramic housing to tolerate high heat and an on/off switch.
Use a good quality temperature gauge too, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer to figure out the temperatures in your enclosure. Don't guess at it. You can also use a rheostat and/or timers to control your heat source. We do not recommend the use of hot rocks. They have a tendency to heat unevenly over too small an area and can cause serious burns.
Keep a non-porous water bowl in with your python and make sure they always have clean water. Exo Terras water bowls or Flukers water bowls are good decorative choices or a good ceramic crock dish. Scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up. If you maintain a humidity level of around 65%, your snake will be able to shed properly. Hand misters are usually sufficient.
Super dwarfs are known for being good eaters. We do recommend feeding in its own enclosure. Feeding in its home will not make your pet more aggressive or associate you with food. These pythons have a high feeding response which means they're programmed to snap first and think later. Whether you feed in or out of the tank, it is their nature to act like this. Get yourself a good snake hook, and gently hook your snake out of its enclosure when you want to hold it. Check out these hooks: Exo Terra collapsible hook for babies and larger hooks for adults. Using a snake hook when you take your pet out will greatly reduce the chances of you being bit from a feeding response.
Hatchlings to 2 years
1 rodent of appropriate size once a week. This means the girth of the rodent should not exceed 1 1/2 times the girth of the snake (at it's biggest point, not his neck size) Do not handle your snake for at least 24 hours after it has eaten. Snakes in general tend not to eat when they are in shed. Just wait to feed until your pet sheds. Snakes over two years can eat every 2 weeks if you want. Make sure it's a decent size meal.
We consider this species to be good for people who have keep other snakes successfully before and are ready to try something more advanced. Super dwarfs can be more flighty than their mainland cousins. If you work with them, they can be friendly and easy to care for. However, remember to respect for their natural feeding response. This means it's a good idea to use a hook when wanting to take them out to hold. This lets them know that they are going to be held and not fed.
When holding your pet, always remember to support your snakes body. Once a retic realizes that you will not hurt it, they often seem to enjoy (or at least tolerate) being handled. Relax and give your snake time to get used to you. Avoid touching the top of its head. Unless it knows and trusts you, touching the top of the head will cause it to jerk away from the touch. The fast movement of the snake tends to scare a lot of new snake owners. This is called being "head shy." A lot of retics will get over it with gentle handling.
Give your new pet at least a couple of days to settle in to its new home before handling. Start slow and gradually increase the amount of time you have your snake out. Remember your new python's life is in your hands. So please take care of it properly.