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Carpet Python Care Carpet Python Care Sheet

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CARPET PYTHONS 

 

Carpet Python

Generally Speaking

In my opinion, carpet pythons are one of the easiest and most undemanding species of snakes to care for.  They offer the keeper a lot of choices in terms of size, color and pattern, so they're becoming more and more popular all the time.

Quality carpets used to be fairly hard to find, but they've become more readily available in the past five years or so, due to selective breeding efforts of hobbyists. Now that Carpets are being produced in fairly decent numbers, they can actually be quite inexpensive.

Internet Forum Myths Debunked

Although I will touch on some of these things throughout this page, there are a few that I’d like to clear up before you read on.

Myth 1 - Carpet pythons are typically aggressive.

Whenever I see someone selling a nippy yearling (or older) carpet python and they play off the snake’s bad temperament by saying that it has a “typical carpet python attitude,” it makes me wonder how many carpet pythons they’ve really worked with.

In fact, most carpets are just are very laid back.  However, carpets when they get nervous they will typically try to flee, but the occasional specimen will attempt to bite.  Hatchlings are typically pretty mellow, but some can be nippy.  Luckily, they're so tiny that their bites are harmless.   At a year or two of age, even the most aggressive babies will usually calm down and become trustworthy snakes.   Some hatchlings may be docile after the first couple of days that you handle them, while others may take as long as a couple years to fully calm down.

Nippy hatchlings and juveniles don't necessarily have to be handled in order to eventually calm down.  Day to day maintenance and a growing snake's increased confidence usually are enough.  With larger carpet pythons, I'd say that 99% of all bites are the result of a feeding error....either on part of the snake or the keeper.

We have to remember, these snakes "see" heat, perhaps better than they can actually see the difference in shape between a rat and a human hand.  To avoid being mistaken for food, get a snake hook.  You don't need to pin the snake down or anything like that...that's not why we use snake hooks.  We use them to simply tap the snake on the nose or neck, in order to let them know that they're not getting fed. 

If you are concernedabout having a docile snake, ask the breeder/dealer if the snake is nippy before you buy it.  Of course, it helps if you trust them.  If they tell you that it is nippy, keep looking because you will eventually find a docile one if you look hard enough.

Myth 2 - Carpet pythons need high humidity.

There's no subtle way to put it...this one's more or less BS. :)  I cringe when I see keepers telling people to keep their carpets at a consistent 70% relative humidity.  As a rule of thumb, 40-60% is good - anything higher and you need to clean all the time to make sure "life" doesn't start growing in the cage. :-)

Too much humidity will promote bacterial and fungal growth, which can cause a myriad of health problems.  With that being the case, I'd rather keep them a little too dry than a little too wet, but again, this really just boils down to what works for you.  If I had to put a number on it, I'd say a reading in the 45-60% range would be optimal.  When humidity dips below the 50% mark, lightly mist the cage and then the humidity will spike to 70% or so for a few hours before getting back down to a more reasonable range.  Then you let the cage become almost dry before repeating.  Twice a week seems to work well for me.

Myth 3 - Carpet pythons are arboreal.

I guess this one could be a bit subjective, and maybe calling them semi-arboreal would be accurate, but you won't find a chondro-style perch in my carpet cages. On the other hand, if you compare carpets to something like a green tree python, there is no comparison.  Carpets can climb quite well, and will usually make use of any branches in their enclosure, but it's not really a necessity.

Mine do just fine with nothing more than a hide box or two and a water bowl.  Most carpets will choose to sit on top of the hide box, rather than inside of it.  When they're digesting a meal, they will go inside the hide box for a couple of days and then return to sitting on top of it.

For that reason, I prefer a hide box over a perch.  For breeding adults, I like to use a shelf or something more open, so that breeding pairs are more apt to come into contact with one another.

All in all, carpets make great display snakes when given something to drape themselves across, but they can be housed very efficiently if needed.

Temperatures

I generally provide an ambient temperature of 26-29C and a temperature of around 32-34C under the basking lamp or over heat source.  A few degrees either way isn't going to hurt anything.  A night drop is completely unnecessary, unless you're cycling your carpets for breeding.

Please understand that this is far from an exact science, and I try not to make anything too routine, so feel free to try different temperatures and see what works for you.

Humidity

I already touched on this above, but it's often repeated on internet discussion forums that humidity should be kept at around 70-80%.  As explained earlier, I've found that to be too high for any more than 6-12 hours at a time, any longer and mold/bacteria will thrive, not to mention gnats and other pests.

If you live in an unusually dry area and feel that you should be misting the cage, be sure that the cage gets a chance to dry out every day or two, before you spray again.  The idea is to create a humidity cycle...not constant humidity.  Constantly high humidity actually promotes bacterial and fungal growth, which can lead to respiratory infection, as well as numerous other health problems.

I’ve kept jungle carpets in screen-top ten gallon fish tanks, with a heat pad underneath or a 15-watt dome lamp on top, which would be a terrible set up for maintaining humidity.  I never misted those cages until the animals' eyes turned blue for shedding, and they always had perfect sheds.  Those particular jungle carpets reached four feet in their first year.  Not bad in my book...then again, I may have been lucky. 

Diet

If you want your carpet to grow quickly, I highly recommend starting them on rat pinkies.  Switching from mice to rats can be a problem with some carpets, usually with Jungles. Others seem to not care what they eat. 

I start my hatchlings on pinky rats and quickly move them up from there.  Contrary to what most people recommend, I generally feed prey items that are about twice the girth of the snake itself.  The frequency of meals will vary, but I generally always feed them what most people consider to be large meals. 

carpet python

Carpet pythons can take relatively huge meals, so don't be reluctant to try something that is two times their diameter.  If they have sufficient heat and are left undisturbed for a few days, they will digest the meal without incident.

Conversely, I have seen carpet pythons begin to swallow a meal of questionable size and then, half-way through the process, decide not to take it.  With that in mind, I'm comfortable letting them be the judge of what they can and cannot eat.  If a carpet is healthy, stress free and being kept at proper temperatures, you should never have to worry about this.

Feeding

Carpet pythons generally speaking, are voracious eaters, however hatchlings can sometimes be tricky to get started.  In almost all cases, a picky youngster will not be picky forever. I’ve had carpets that were terribly difficult to feed at first, but once they got going, there was no stopping them.

I have an adult female who was a nightmare to feed as a hatchling, and still grew to 4.5 feet by her first birthday.  If you don't have access to rats and need to feed mice, don't bother with pinky mice unless you have a smaller species like the Childrens Python family.

Hatchling carpets typically prefer something the size of a hopper mouse.  This might look like a relatively large meal, but don’t worry.  Again, these are pythons, and they can handle larger meals.  Have I said that enough yet?   If you've hatched some babies and are having trouble getting some of them to eat, usually an assist feeding is all that’s needed.  Just poke the fuzzy mouse’s head into the snake’s mouth, hold for a few seconds and then set the snake back down in it’s cage.  A lot of times, they will instinctively constrict the prey and eat it.

Brand new hatchlings can be picky about the method in which they are fed.  Some of mine prefer live prey or for prey to be dangled overhead on forceps, while others will take pre-killed.  Some nervous hatchlings may have to be placed in a paper sack or cardboard box with the food item (pre-killed or non-weaned only), which I then place in the cage overnight.  I don't sell baby snakes before they're past this difficult stage, but not every breeder takes the time to get them  started.  That's why it's important to ask questions before you buy!!!

Cage Furniture

Carpet pythons are semi-arboreal as hatchlings and juveniles, and even adults will make use of any perch or branches available.  This really is not a necessity, but it does seem to help with the general happiness of the snake.  With that in mind, if you aren’t housing a dozen of them, you might consider a cage with sufficient height to facilitate climbing.

The cage does not have to be extremely tall to accommodate a sufficient perch, although Diamond Pythons do better in a taller cage to allow for a very cool spot. With that in mind, some of the smaller plastic sweater boxes are only 3.5 to 4 inches tall, which makes it kind of difficult to provide any kind of perch.  In this case, you'll find that a lot of carpets are just as happy to "perch" on top of their hide box.

Substrates

The substrate you choose is really just a matter of personal preference.  Paper is pretty much the best but your cage can smell and looks down right ugly.  Kritter Crumble, Reptibark and Zoo Med Aspen are my personal preferences.

Water Bowl

Choose a water bowl that is heavy or designed so that it doesn’t tip over when your snake is cruising around at night.  Try to place the bowl in the coolest area of the cage to slow the growth of bacteria.  We have plenty suitable in store.

Some keepers prefer to place the bowl on the warm end of the cage, in order to increase evaporation and increase humidity.  This practice is not recommended, as it leads to rapid bacterial/fungal growth in the water that your snakes are drinking.  If the humidity needs to be increased, mist the cage, but don't make your snakes drink dirty water.

Heat Source

A thermostatically controlled melamine or timber connected to a thermostat is recommended, especially in the Cooler states of Australia.  Infra Red and Ceramic fiitings are my preference but some people also use Red and Blue Party globes.  Getting the right wattage heat source is important because if it is too high the thermostat will still turn them off but you will go through a lot of globes.  If they are of too smaller wattage the enclosure will not beable to get to the desired temperate.

Dimming thermostats are always a good choice for getting longer life from your globes.  We have a large range in store.

Hide Boxes

These are one of the most important aspects in successfully starting a hatchling, in my opinion.  A young snake must have somewhere to hide and feel secure. Some keepers only use one hide box, and that’s usually on the warm end of the cage.  This makes the animal choose between hiding or being at the correct temperature, since it now has to hide on the hot end.  Because of this, I prefer to use a long slab of cork bark or piece of egg carton that runs all the way from the hottest end of the cage to the coolest end of the cage.

You can also place a hide box on each end of the cage, in order to give the snake a cool place to hide and a warm place to hide.  When choosing a hide box, it's best to choose one that sits low to the ground.  Snakes actually feel more secure in tight, close quarters.  The comparatively tall and roomy commercial hide boxes are not usually the best choice for a hide box.

With established older carpets, hide boxes aren't so mportant.  I find that a lot of older carpets prefer to sit on top of the hide box or they don't even bother using it unless they're digesting a meal or getting ready to shed.

For adults, I'll usually just place one on the hot end of the cage, so they can go inside to digest a meal.  If you're not providing a hide box, I would recommend a perch or shelf of some sort, so that the snake can climb and exercise.

Thermometer or Temp Gun

Obviously, you need thermometer to measure the temperature.  Measure the temperature where the snake spends its time, not the wall of the cage.  I use a temperature gun, but if you don't have one, you should actually keep thermometer in the hide area so that you can read the temperatures that the snake is actually exposed to.

If you have a fairly sizeable collection, it's impractical to buy a thermometer for each cage, so a temperature gun is a great tool to have.  Always check your thermostat reading to a thermometer as some thermostats are not calibrated accurately.