Carpet Python Care Sheet
Carpet Pythons are small to medium (5’ – 8’) constrictors found throughout Australia and Indonesia. This family of snakes is made up of several different species. The care of all of these species is similar. The main difference is simply the colouration and size of the adult animals. As babies these snakes can be a little snappy, but they quickly calm down and make a good choice for a second snake.
Heating the tank
- Carpet Pythons are tropical snakes and require a steady day, and relatively high night time temperature. The easiest way to achieve this is to use a ceramic heating system; this provides the required heat at night with out lighting the tank so won’t interrupt the snakes sleep patterns. Ceramic heaters get extremely hot and will melt normal light fittings. The best type of fitting to use is a hanging pendant type. These allow a greater air flow around the top of the fitting, and reduce overheating of the vivarium roof. Once the fitting has been wired using a heat resistant cable, it will need to be hung from the roof of the tank. A small picture hook is sufficient to hold this in place. Screw the lamp into place. With the high temperatures produced by these lamps it is essential that a guard is placed around the bulb. It is easiest to fix the guard if the tank is upside down. Remove the glass before turning the tank over or it will fall out.
- Carpet Pythons need a basking temperature of 32’c – 35’c, dropping to 26’c at the cool end. At night the temperature should drop no lower than 25’c. The easiest way to do this is with a thermostat with an automatic night time drop facility.
- Plug the heater into a thermostat. The sensor from the thermostat needs to come into the tank at the top, around one third of the way in from the hot end. Allow the sensor to hang down to 2” above the substrate. To make the tank look neater the sensor cable can be held within some conduit, but make sure that the black section of the probe is exposed to the air in the tank to get an accurate reading. Set the thermostat to 28’c. The thermostat will heat the tank where the probe is to 28’c. Under the heater the temperature will be slightly higher, and at the cool end slightly lower. Leave the tank for two hours to settle. Check the basking temperature and cool end temperature. If both temperatures are correct, leave the tank a further two hours and recheck the temperatures. If the temperatures are not right adjust the thermostat. Only make a small change to the thermostat, as even a little tweak can make a large difference to the tank temperatures. Always leave at least two hours before checking the tank. Keep tweaking and checking until the temperatures have stabilised at the desired level.
- If using a thermostat with a night time drop facility set the night time drop to the desired level. With the microclimate range of thermostats the night drop is set on the right hand dial. This dial needs to be set to the amount of drop required. To find this deduct 25 from the setting on the day time temperature (this will normally be around 28’c so requires the drop to be set to 3’c).
- If you are using a standard thermostat with one dial, then the night temperature needs to be adjusted manually. Turn the thermostat down to 25’c at night, and back up to the standard setting in the morning.
Decorating the tank
- These snakes are found in the tropical forests of Australia, and need to be kept in a fairly moist environment like the forests they would normally live in. 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. Carpet Pythons are adept climbers and will appreciate branches to bask on.• 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.
- 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.
- Young Carpet Pythons can be quite a nervous snake, and may try to bite. They quickly grow out of this habit and make a nice pet. Do not try to handle your snake for the first couple of weeks, just let it settle in to the new environment. During this time just spot clean the tank and change the water. After one week offer the snake its first meal. Leave the snake alone for another week, and then offer its second meal. If the animal eats both of these then it has settled in. Leave the snake two days to digest its food, and you can then handle it for the first time. Initially handle the snake for 5 minutes twice a week. As the snake gets more used to being handled the length of time and the frequency can be increased.
- Excessive handling can cause a young snake to go off its food. If this happens stop handling the snake completely until it starts to eat again.
- Carpet 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.
The different species of Carpet Python
Morelia harrisoni – Irian Jaya Carpet Python.
These are the smallest species of carpet python. They range between 5-6.5 feet in length and stay relatively slender bodied. Youngsters are often more yellow than adults and display crisper brighter colours. As they mature most snakes begin to turn cream and chocolate. The banded pattern, often with a broken stripe down the back, remains the same. These are the most commonly kept and bred carpet python and originate from Indonesia.
Morelia cheynei – Jungle Carpet Python.
These are arguably the most attractive carpet pythons. Some outstanding individuals are bright yellow and velvet black. The pattern is similar to the Irian Jaya but the banding is slightly different in shape. When young they are often cream and dark chocolate and then become brighter with age. These are a medium-large species ranging between 5.5-8feet. Its rare however to see many specimens over 6 feet. Jungles are readily available and make great pet snakes. They command slightly higher prices than the Irian Jayas.
Morelia mcdowelli – Coastal Carpet python.
These are the largest and heaviest of the carpet pythons ranging from 6-11 feet in length. They are also one of the more subtly coloured pythons. Most adults are cream/tan and grey/brown. They have beautiful patterns and some pretty animals have a lot of yellow or red showing through. Because of their potential size these animals are best as a second snake after some experience has been gained handling smaller snake species. They are found in Queensland, Australia and are very common there. They have a fondness for birds in the wild and many wonder into gardens and eat pet Parakeets!
Morelia bredli – Bredl’s / Centralian Carpet Python.
This is a very unique species in terms of appearance and care. They are found in the very arid areas around Alice Springs, Australia. They like very low humidity and higher than normal temperatures for a carpet python. Bredl’s need a basking spot of around 35-40c and can withstand much cooler night time temperatures, often down to around 18-23c. They are a large python (6-8.5 feet) and fairly heavy bodied. They are usually terracotta or some exceptional animals are almost brick red! Most sport a banded pattern with cream bellies and chins.
Morelia variegata – New Guinea Carpet Python.
This is not a readily available species but can be found occasionally. They appear as a paler version of the Irian Jaya and are often confused with them. They reach a similar size and inhabit a similar environment to the Irian Jaya.
Carpet Pythons are now available in several colour varieties (morphs) many of them are beautiful snakes and command high prices.
This morph was produced from coastal carpet pythons. They show a reduced pattern and very bright yellow background colours. These stunning pythons are now quite affordable and are now being combined with other morphs and other carpet python species to produce outstanding results.
This morph was found in the Irian Jaya Carpet pythons. The colours are very much the same, but the pattern is very granular and broken up to produce a speckled appearance.
This is a fairly new and expensive morph found in the jungle species. They are similar in colour to the wild type jungles but the pattern is almost Zig-zag. They have recently produced a super-zebra which has no pattern at all and is a solid yellow snake!
This is a new morph found in the Darwin Carpet Python. These are actually Amelanistic animals and have no black or brown pigment at all. They are bright yellow and peach.