Jungle or Forest
Generally, these snakes should be kept in a cage about the same length as the snake and half as deep. Reticulated pythons between 2 and 6 feet can be maintained in glass tanks of appropriate size. Once the snake reaches 8 to 10 feet, more permanent housing should be considered. Adult retics can be housed in a cage with minimum dimensions of 8 feet long by 4 feet deep. There is no maximum size for an adult retic cage, so if an empty room is available that would give the snake ample space to live and thrive. Regardless, a custom enclosure will almost always be a must.
When these snakes are small, less than 8 feet, cypress mulch can be used with great success. This type of bedding has many advantages: it holds humidity very well, it allows the snake to bury itself, and it looks natural and attractive. This bedding will often contain or harbor bugs called wood lice. They are very small and often confused with mites. Wood lice are 1 millimeter long and have a silver-gray color to them. Harmful mites, on the other hand, are the same size but a jet-black color and more rounded in shape. The wood lice are harmless to the snake, and they should only be a concern if they begin to overrun the enclosure. As the snake grows larger than 8 feet and a permanent enclosure is needed, newspaper is often the best bedding. It is cheap, odorless, and excellent for maintaining humidity. Cypress mulch can still be used, but, if an entire room is being used as the enclosure, this can become very expensive and time consuming to maintain.
Heating & Lighting Requirements
Reticulated pythons require a daytime temperature of 80° to 94°F and a nighttime temperature of 75° to 80°. These temperatures can be achieved through the use of a heat lamp. Heat lamps are usually the best method, because they allow for a more natural heat source, closer to natural sunlight. They also, to a degree, light up the enclosure for viewing purposes. You can use different colored bulbs to simulate a day and night photoperiod. There are black or purple bulbs for nighttime heat and blue or white bulbs for daytime heat. The exact wattage needed will need to be determined by the owner, because everyone has different temperature preferences for their homes.
Reticulated pythons do not require a fluorescent light bulb in order to live and thrive, but this type of light will help the owner to view the tank, and the snake’s color will often be enhanced under this light. This type of light can be utilized to provide the snake with a daytime period.
Hiding areas should be tight fitting so the snake will feel secure. Ideally, two hiding areas should be provided on opposite sides of the enclosure to allow the snake to be able to thermoregulate and hide simultaneously. Finding items large enough for an adult of this snake to hide under can be difficult. Items such as plastic pools made for small children will work simply by cutting a hole in the side. Another possibility is to build a custom hide box out of wood.
Water should be provided in two ways: a water tub and daily misting. The water tub should be large enough so that the snake can fit its entire body inside if need be. Again, a small children’s pool would work well. Daily misting sessions should be provided in order to maintain proper humidity levels and to allow the snake to drink. Reticulated pythons require humidity levels between 50% and 70%.
This is the favorite part of snake husbandry for most people. When young, reticulated pythons feed solely on small rodents, like mice and rats. As adults, they eat large rabbits, chickens, and possibly pigs, if the snake grows large enough. As a general rule of thumb, the snake should be fed a prey item 1.5 times larger than the thickest part of its body. If the prey item being offered is too big, the snake will often regurgitate the meal after 2 or 3 days. This is extremely stressful and draining on the snake, and it should be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, a prey item that is too small will result in malnutrition from the snake not receiving enough food. As neonates and juvenile snakes, they should be fed every 7 days. As they move up to multiple large rats, guinea pigs, and rabbits, the duration between feedings should be extended to every 2 to 3 weeks. As the snake reaches a length where it can take rabbits, it will sometimes be unwilling to switch over from rats. If you give the snake some time, it will usually switch over. If the snake is a particularly finicky eater, scenting the rabbit with a rat by rubbing the two prey animals together will usually result in a successful feeding.
Reticulated pythons require a period of high humidity once the shedding cycle begins. A good, solid shed is much healthier for the snake. Often, if humidity levels are not raised when the opaque cycle begins, the snake will have a bad shed that results in dry patches of skin left on the snake’s tail end and, on occasion, eye caps. The enclosure should be misted twice a day for the duration of the shed cycle in order to efficiently increase humidity levels. If the snake still has problems shedding, a short soaking in lukewarm water will usually help to loosen the remaining skin. It should be mentioned that, due to their size, it is common for large adults of this type of snake to shed in numerous smaller pieces instead of one large piece. This is nothing to be worried about, although the snake may require some assistance if it is having excessive trouble.