Reticulated Python Reticulated Pythons A.K.A. “Retics” (Python reticulatus sp.)
Day Time Temperatures- 82* (F) cool side – 92*(F)
Hot spot Night Time Temperatures- 76*(F) cool side- 84*(F) hot spot
Introduction: Reticulated pythons have long captivated their audiences with their large, muscular build, gorgeous iridescence and the beautifully patterned skin that they were named for. Long thought of as aggressive, ill-tempered snakes- they now (because of captive breeding) have a reputation as easily cared for, highly intelligent, and rewarding captives.
They come from a wide range in Southeast Asia, with most animals kept as pets originating from Indonesia and Malaysia. Different populations are highly variable, and have now been divided into separate subspecies, with more undoubtedly to come as further research is conducted. This natural variety, along with numerous genetic morphs, allow for selective breeding and domestication to occur rapidly, and the last 20 years has seen the Reticulated python become available in over 200 different varieties! Popularity continues to grow with smaller, more docile varieties that allow intermediate to even beginning snake keepers to have their own legendary pet snake.
Availability: “Retics” are commonly available year round with importation and captive bred animals. Fresh imports are very inexpensive, but are often carrying heavy parasite loads, and can have a difficult time adjusting to a captive environment. Because of large clutch sizes produced by captive breeders, there are plenty of healthy hatchlings available that tend to have better temperaments available as well, so there is really no need to buy wild-caught animals. Make sure you are buying from a reputable breeder that can provide detailed information on the individual animals you are considering, because of the vast variety in adult sizes, temperaments, and coloration.
Life Span and Adult Size: Retics live, on average, 15-20 years, with some individuals reaching 25 or even 30 years. Reticulated pythons could be considered the world’s largest snakes, with exceptional examples being recorded at 32 feet long, and some weighing in at 350 pounds. On the other hand, there are dwarfs that max out at 10-12 feet, and Superdwarfs that max out at 6-7 feet long.
Caging: The most important aspect of caging is that it can safely contain the snakes. Tight fitting racks, or strong cages with locks are a must. Baby Retics can be kept in shoebox size cages, or 10 gallon terrariums. Adult Retics can be housed in 6’-8’ cages for, all but the very largest animals. An occasional extremely well fed animal may require a 10’ cage. There are a variety of options for substrate. We have used Newspaper (printed, or print free) with great success, other options include; Aspen, Cypress Mulch or pre-cut corrugated card board. Hide spots are a fundamental asset for all reptiles, particularly effective for juvenile retics. We recommend something tight fitting but with an entrance large enough for the animal to enter and exit. Plastic or other easily sanitized materials are wise choices. A good sized water dish available at all times, constructed of dishwasher safe or easily sanitized materials, heavy enough to not be easily tipped over are a good investment. A variety of options exist for heating such as; heating pads, spot lamps (always use a cage guard to prevent injury), heat tape and heat panels. A high quality thermostat is always worth the money to insure that you are providing the proper options for healthy thermoregulation.
Daily Care and Handling: Check for defecation or urination and clean accordingly. Check to make sure that the temperatures are within the acceptable parameters. Replace water with fresh water. Baby Retics can be nervous about giant predatory animals (such as humans) around them all the time, and may hiss or even strike, but with gentle daily handling they become quite confident with regular interaction. Acclimated Retics have a very strong feed response, so expect when you open the cage that they will be interested in food. Everyone handles this differently, but the basic idea is the same- take the time to show the snake it’s not being fed, before you offer it your hand. At Prehistoric Pets, we simply use a paper towel roll, which will not hurt the snake’s teeth if it bites it, to pet the snake on top of the head, until the snake moves away and is no longer looking for a target. Once that happens, we simply pick the animal up by hand, and once they are out of the cage, they are usually very handle able. When dealing with any larger snake, it is wise to keep its head pointed away from you and others at all times, especially with easily spooked animals. Please, always be responsible, and NEVER release intentionally, or take an animal into a situation where it may escape into the wild.
Feeding: Retics are extremely food oriented animals, and they love to eat! Most Reticulated Pythons start off taking live food, but a fair amount can be transferred over to frozen thawed prey items, or freshly killed prey items. If your Reticulated Python is not willing to take frozen thawed food, you can occasionally offer it and the animal may begin to accept it with time. Unfortunately not all will switch to dead food, and some animals will require live food as a permanent food source. A good rule of thumb is to feed one prey item of comparable girth to the thickest part of the snake’s body every 7-10 days. Snakes fed more often will grow faster and can reach greater lengths, but overfeeding snakes can cause health problems, as with any animal.
Dwarfs: Several wild populations of Reticulated Pythons have proven to reach much smaller adult sizes than the “mainland” varieties (which can exceed 20 feet in length), and offer an exciting opportunity to breed the designer morphs down in size to be more easily kept by most enthusiasts. This is already being done with most varieties of Retics, and the resulting Dwarf morphs are incredible. There are different varieties of Dwarfs that attain differing adult sizes, ranging from the smallest (called Superdwarfs) reaching sizes of only 6-8 feet, for example, while others max out at 10-12. It’s important to know what kind of Dwarf you are dealing with and what percentage of Dwarf blood it has in order to estimate adult size. Ethics within the reptile trade dictate that a Retic must have at least 50% Dwarf blood to be labeled a Dwarf.
Color/Pattern Mutations: There are a number of new and established color and pattern mutations with this species, as well as combinations of these mutations; called “designer reticulated pythons”. The designer morphs do not exist in the wild, but are some of the most strikingly beautiful animals in the world. We work with a colony of various morphs and offer a great selection from the most common, to some of the most sought after reticulated python mutations and combinations available here at Prehistoric Pets. Do your homework, buy captive bred, and have fun with your new Retic!