|Name/Common Name||:||Reticulated Python|
|Scientific Name||:||Python Reticulatus|
Southeast Asia, Philippines & Indonesia. Reticulated pythons have the largest range of any python species.
Widespread throughout their range but diminishing in numbers, reticulated pythons are extensively exploited in the skin trade, and large numbers are slaughtered for their meat & hides. The CITES export quota for reticulated python skins in 2002 was 437,500. This grim & sickening fact goes to show that it is much easier to legally remove dead snakes from their native habitat than live ones.
Reticulated pythons are somewhat slender for their length & develop a very muscular girth that tends to stay round, instead of flattening out as in other large constrictors. These giant pythons are extremely variable, with net-like or rope-like patterning on a silver or tan-silver background. The dorsal pattern is typically the base color of the snake and bordered in black and yellow, orange or brown. The lateral blotches are light in color. The entire body radiates an iridescent sheen.
Wild-caught Retics tend to be extremely nervous and defensive animals that will bite to escape handling. On the other hand, captive-bred specimens often mature into docile, intelligent animals that are a pleasure to interact with if the keeper is properly set up to do so. his is a species where choosing a good, CB animal can make a huge difference in your snake-keeping experience.
Hatchlings approximately 24"+/-. Females average 17+', males average 12' - 14' adult size. Record size is around 33 feet & 300+ pounds.
Reticulated pythons may live 30 years or more in captivity.
Color & pattern mutations of Python reticulatus include T- albino, T+ albino, Tiger, Super Tiger, Albino Tiger, Calico, Calico Tiger, Striped, Patternless, Axanthic/Anerythristic, Hypomelanistic, Granite-back, and more!
Captive Maintenance Guidelines
Advanced - keeper should have previous experience with larger boids and be comfortable with their care and handling. Not a suitable beginners snake. Reticulated pythons are usually what their keeper has made them. If properly kept by a knowledgeable owner they behave well and are a spectacular sight as a large, tame python.
Enclosures can be as simple or elaborate as one is capable of caring for. Remember that the more "stuff" you put in a cage, the more "stuff" you have to clean & disinfect on a regular basis. That said, there are many different enclosures that work well for smaller reticulated pythons, including, but not limited to: plastic sweater boxes (i.e. Rubbermaid), melamine racks, Freedom Breeder cages, and any of the commercially available plastic-type reptile cages, (i.e. those from Vision Herp & other similar manufacturers). Glass aquariums & tanks are adequate for smaller specimens; keep in mind that the screen tops on such enclosures can make it difficult to maintain humidity levels. Also refer to our Snake Caging care sheet for more information.
Juvenile reticulated pythons seem to do well in smaller enclosures that make them feel more secure; a small snake in a big cage can become overwhelmed & stressed. For large retics, a minimum cage size should allow the snake to stretch out at least half its own length, and longer is always better. Also, if you must choose between the width of the enclosure & the height, always choose the extra width, as your retic will appreciate the extra floor space. Remember that ALL enclosures must allow for a proper thermal gradient that the snake can utilize, with a hot spot on one end and a cooler spot on the other. No matter the age of the snake, reticulated pythons are extremely strong and should have a secure cage with a strong lock. Accommodating the enclosure requirements for adult reticulated pythons is something that MUST be considered prior to acquiring one of these giant constrictors.
There are a few substrates that work well. Newspaper is the cheapest & easiest with regards to cleaning & disinfecting: out with the old, in with the new. Cypress mulch is great for controlling humidity, but remember that too much humidity can be as detrimental (if not more) as too little. Never use any substrate containing cedar, as this is deadly to reptiles!
Temperatures & Heating
Provide your retic with a basking spot of 88-92 °F and an ambient (background) temperature of 78-80 °F. The ambient temperature should not fall below 75 °F. It is vitally important to KNOW the temperatures at which you are keeping your snake(s). DO NOT GUESS!! A great way to monitor temps is to use a digital indoor/outdoor thermometer with a probe. Stick the thermometer to the inside of the cage on the cool end and place the probe on the warm end, and you'll have both sides covered at once.
There are several ways to go about heating the enclosure: undercage heating pads, ceramic heat emitters, basking bulbs (both regular daytime & red "night" bulbs) are just a few. With heat emitters & bulbs it is necessary to really keep an eye on the humidity within the enclosure, especially if combined with a screen top, as both will dry the air quickly. Use thermostats, rheostats and/or timers to control your heat source. Do not use hot rocks with snakes as they often heat unevenly over too small of a surface area & can cause serious burns.
Providing proper humidity for reticulated pythons is important to ensure a healthy environment and aid in shedding, but as stated previously too much humidity can be as problematic as too little. First off, let's establish "humidity" as the amount of moisture in the air. To provide your snake with a humidity level of 50% - 60%, you have a couple of options.
- Use cypress mulch or a similar substrate that can be misted & is mold-resistant. Cypress is good for this as it turns a tan color when dry & a rich brown when wet, giving a visual cue as to when it needs to be dampened again.
- Make a "humidity box" for your snake. This consists of packing a plastic container with damp sphagnum moss (think well-wrung-out wash cloth to gauge moisture), cutting a hole in the top or side & placing it in your python's enclosure so that it can access the box as it pleases.
Keep in mind that if you have a screen top on the enclosure you will probably want to cover it most or all of the way with plastic, a towel or some other means of keeping moisture from escaping. This is also where having proper, reliable ambient temperatures (back to that thermometer!) is important, as warm air holds more moisture than cool air. You want the enclosure to be humid, not WET. A soggy cage can eventually lead to bacterial & fungal infections and consequently, death.
Supplemental lighting is not necessary for this species, but if used should run on a 12/12 cycle, meaning 12 hours on & 12 hours off. Continuous bright, overhead lighting is stressful to snakes, especially a nocturnal serpent such as this one.
Always make fresh, clean water available to your reticulated python, as they have a tendency to drink copiously. The size of the water dish is up to you. If it is large enough for the python to crawl into and soak, sooner or later your snake will make the most of the opportunity, and most seem to enjoy a nice soak from time to time. Ensure that the bowl is not too deep for juvenile animals - 1" or so will suffice. Snakes of many species will defecate in their water bowls from time to time, so be prepared for cleaning, disinfecting & a water change when necessary. It is often beneficial to have a spare water bowl for such occasions, so that one may be used while the other is being cleaned.
One cage accessory that is beneficial to keeping a happy reticulated python is a good hide box...maybe even a couple of them. These are sensitive, intelligent snakes that appreciate & utilize a hide spot. Provide one on each end of your python's enclosure so that it doesn't have to choose between temperature & security. Clay flowerpots, plastic flowerpot trays, and commercially available hide boxes all work quite well. For larger retics, taping dark paper over part of the enclosure is a simple way to help your snake feel more secure. As with any cage accessory, ensure that your method of providing a hide spot does not interfere with safely working the animal in its enclosure.
Feed your snake an appropriately sized rodent weekly. A baby retic should begin feeding on small adult mice or rat crawlers. They can eat rats from the time they are young - starting off with rat pups or "crawlers" for younger snakes & moving up in size as the animal grows. At 3', the snake is large enough for weanling rats. At 4', it is typically capable of consuming adult rats. Do not handle your snake for at least a day after feeding, as this can lead to regurgitation.
Most reticulated pythons have a terrific feeding response and are generally pretty easy to convert to frozen/thawed or pre-killed rodents (see Snake Feeding caresheet). Never leave a live rodent unattended with ANY snake. Feed at least once every 10 days, especially with younger retics. While it is somewhat possible to control a snake's growth rate through maintenance feeding, remember that feeding too infrequently will leave you with a hungry snake that is constantly searching for food, resulting in stronger feeding responses during interaction with handlers. On the other hand, frequent feedings of 1 - 2 times weekly will result in quick growth, so It may be wise to consider how large you wish the snake to get over a certain period of time.
This is a species where developing proper feeding habits is crucial to safe handling, as reticulated rock pythons are incredibly strong constrictors & a force to be reckoned with when hungry. Never handle rodents and then handle a snake; you may be mistaken as food. As the snake grows to lengths exceeding 6' it may be wise to feed the snake only dead rodents by placing prey items in the enclosure for the snake to discover, as this may encourage more gentle food acquisition.
As your reticulated python grows you will need to located progressively larger prey items - i.e. large rabbits, etc. Finding a source for appropriate prey items prior to needing them will prove extremely beneficial in keeping your retic, especially with regards to budget and feeding schedule. Contact other retic keepers or members of a local herp society to help point you in the right direction. Feeding large adult retics is not always cheap, and this cost should be taken into consideration prior to acquiring this species.
Spot-clean your snake's enclosure as necessary. When feces/urates/uneaten prey items are present, remove them as soon as possible. Clean & disinfect the water bowl on a weekly basis. Depending on cage conditions, remove all substrate & cage furniture and completely disinfect using a 5% bleach solution approximately every 30 days. Rinse the enclosure thoroughly and allow to dry before replacing cage furniture & your snake.
Basic Reproductive Info
NOTE: Prior to attempting any breeding with your reticulated pythons, make sure you are 100% certain of the gender of each snake! NEVER introduce two mature male retics into the same enclosure, as they are highly combative to the point of severely injuring or killing one another!
Reticulated pythons reach sexual maturity anywhere from 18 months to 4 years of age. Breeding size occurs at lengths of 7 - 9' (males) & 11'+ (females). Breeding season in captivity typically ranges from November to March. Stop all feeding at this time. Animals should be well established and in excellent condition before any breeding is attempted. Breeding may be induced by reducing daytime photoperiod to 8 - 10 hours and dropping nighttime temperatures into the mid 70's. Introduce the female into the male's cage. Misting the animals with water may induce breeding activity. Females typically shed 14+ days after ovulation; eggs are typically laid within 34 - 49 (average 38) days of post-ovulation shed. Clutch size for retics ranges from 10 - 80 + eggs. At an Incubation temperature of 88 - 90F (optimal), these eggs take an average of 88 days to hatch.
The reticulated python is the king of constrictors. Their size and strength is second to none in the snake world, and their beauty is unmatched among the giant boids. While certainly not "a snake for everyone," reticulated pythons have a very dedicated following of skilled keepers that grows as more and more herpers gain the experience necessary to properly care for these colossal animals. Safely watching a retic's instinctive hunting behavior leaves one with a sense of respect and awe that few other snakes inspire to this level. Previous experience in dealing with large powerful constrictors is a MUST before acquiring one of these snakes, as even the most docile CB specimens may possess extreme feeding responses. Reticulated pythons make an excellent challenge for the experienced keeper ready for the "biggest of them all."