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Basic Care Instructions:
In the table below, we have outlined the basic care information for
Ball Pythons and Irian Jaya Carpet Pythons. This information is based
on our experience with these snakes and our discussions with other hobbyists
and breeders. While these guidelines are a good starting point, you
should thoroughly research the specific requirements for any animal you
intend to keep. There are numerous internet and print resources
available on these and other species you may wish to keep.
IJ Carpet Pythons
Enclosure and Substrate
Your snakes require
a secure well ventilated enclosure. Glass aquaria (with secure
screen top), plastic sweater boxes, and custom reptile enclosures are
all acceptable. We house our Balls and Carpets on shredded aspen
bedding, but cypress mulch, newspaper or paper towels also make an
acceptable substrate. Do not use cedar bedding!
Juveniles prefer a
small enclosure. A 10 gal. aquarium or similarly sized enclosure
will do nicely for a year or so. Adults will require more space.
We house our adults in a custom made rack system with plastic sweater
box enclosures. A 30 gal. aquarium will provide adequate space for
all but the largest of specimens. Ball pythons do not seem to
require a great deal of vertical space, so floor space is the key
Juveniles seem to do
well in 20 gal. tall aquariums or similarly sized enclosures for their
first year or two of their life. Adults require more space.
A 50 gal. or larger aquarium or similarly sized enclosure is necessary.
We keep our adults in custom made enclosures that measure about 40 in.
wide by 20 in. deep by 20 in. high. These pythons are great
climbers and will use the enclosures' vertical space if provided with
branches or ledges.
with all snakes, it is important to provide your animals with a
temperature gradient (warmer temperatures on one end of the enclosure).
This temperature gradient allows the animals to maintain an ideal body
temperature. Temperatures can be maintained with lamps, under-tank
heaters, heat tape or ceramic elements. Special lighting is not
required for either of these species. It is important to control
your heating devices with a thermostat or rheostat. In both
species, a slight night-time drop in temps is desirable. If you
plan to breed your snakes, a winter cooling period is also necessary.
For Ball Pythons:
F cool side
(we keep babies slightly cooler, at about 87 on the warm end)
humidity of 30% to 50%, which can be increased during shedding cycles
F warm side
F cool side
humidity of 40% to 60%, which can be increased during shedding cycles
Both species require
some very basic cage furnishings. Although a very beautiful
naturalistic environment can be created, it is not required. Keep
in mind that a fancy, naturalistic enclosure will be more difficult to
clean and maintain.
For Balls, one
shallow and tight hiding spot should be provided on each end of the
enclosure. This seems particularly important for hatchlings.
One small water bowl should be provided and fresh water should be
available at all times.
For IJCPs, I provide
one or more stout branches for climbing. Thick grape-vine type
branches are available at most pet stores and can be ordered on-line.
You may fashion your own branches if you wish. Its a good idea to
sterilize the branches with heat prior to use. Do not use
cedar! One or two hiding spots can be provided, particularly for
hatchlings. I do not provide separate hides for our adults, but
they can "hide" in the corners of their enclosures and behind and under
their branches. One small water bowl with fresh water should be
available at all times.
maintenance of either species, one appropriately sized pre-killed or
thawed-frozen rodent should be fed every 1 or 2 weeks. For
hatchlings, breeder females, or to encourage faster growth, you can feed
more and/or more often.
Pythons will take small adult mice or rat pups. Although the prey
item may seem too large to you, most baby BPs will ignore smaller prey.
We try to feed all of our adults medium rats, however some to seem to
prefer very large mice instead.
Hatchling IJCPs will
take fuzzy or hopper sized mice. Adults can be maintained on large
mice or small to medium rats.