How to Care for Your Royal Python
Royal Pythons are one of the most popular pet species in the UK, due to a combination of their lovely temperament and ease of maintenance. They are beautifully marked, and are now being bred in many different colours and patterns. Royal Pythons are sometime referred to as Ball Pythons, as when they are scared they will roll into a ball with their head well protected in between their coils. They grow to around 1.2m long and are a heavily built snake, with a very gentle nature. In this guide we have provided useful tips and best practices on how to look after a Royal Python.
A wooden vivarium is best for Royal Python as they are better insulated than glass or plastic tanks, so therefore easier to get the heating set up correctly. They are also designed with snakes in mind so escapees are unlikely. (Remember to shut the doors properly!) A wooden vivarium will offer more privacy as they only have a glass front.
Baby Royals – as with any snake – are quite capable of being happy in an adult sized enclosure provided that they have plenty of hides. A good rule of thumb is that if the snake can travel from one side of the enclosure to the other without showing itself, you have enough hides. For an adult snake the minimum size of enclosure should be a 120cm long vivarium, but bigger is always better.
Temperature is very important in reptile care as they cannot produce their own body heat and need to be kept within a suitable range to enable the body to function correctly.
Royal Pythons require an ambient temperature of 27 to 29°C with a hot spot of 31°C to 33°C during in the day; this can be achieved by using a ceramic heater and a basking light on thermostats mounted at one side of the vivarium to create a warmer side. At night the temperature should drop to around 23°C to 25°C.
It is very important to know what the temperature is, so check regularly with an accurate thermometer.
A simply 12 hour light cycle is ideal for Royal Pythons
Snakes do not require UV lighting like lizards do; although some believe it is beneficial, it is not essential to the snakes well-being.
It is important to provide your snake with fresh water every day, in a bowl that is large enough for the snake to submerge in. This may help the snake shed its skin.
Hides and Décor
The snake will require plenty of hides in the vivarium so that it can feel secure. By having 2 or 3 in different areas the vivarium the snake will be able to choose the one that is at the best temperature. A humid hide is also recommended, these are hollow hides with damp moss inside; snakes will often use these when they are shedding their skin.
Plastic plants are also good to use, as these look very attractive in the vivarium as well as offering privacy.
Feed your snake one defrosted mouse or rat weekly for young snakes and fortnightly for adults. The mouse should be no bigger than the largest part of the snake. Rats are a better source of food than mice, hatchling snakes can be fed on rat pups and move up to medium or large rats as adults.
There are a few feeding techniques. The most simple is to place the defrosted food in the vivarium near the snake and leave it to feed. The other way is to offer the food on some tongs or tweezers to the snake; they will often strike very quickly then constrict the prey.
Royal pythons have a reputation for fasting for long periods – if your snakes does fast it is important to check that the temperature is in the correct range and that there are enough hides of the right size available. We find many of the fasting royal pythons are actually being kept in sub optimal conditions and correcting this can be enough to get the snake feeding again.
Snakes will occasionally refuse to feed while shedding.
Spot-clean your snake’s enclosure as necessary, removing waste as soon as possible. Clean and disinfect the water bowl on a weekly basis. Depending on cage conditions, remove all substrate & cage furniture and completely disinfect using reptile safe disinfectant. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly and allow to dry before replacing cage furniture and your snake.
Snakes shed their skin as they grow, and in a normal, healthy snake it should come off in one piece. The first stage in the process is when the eyes go opaque (cloudy); at this point the snake will not want to feed and will hide away and it is best to leave it to do so. After a few days the eyes will clear again but it won’t shed for another 7 to 10 days. Royals all have their own schedules when it comes to shedding, so don’t worry if yours takes either a longer or shorter time to shed its skin!
Royal Pythons are great snakes to keep and they are now available in many different colour morphs.