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Boelens Python

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Is the Boelens Python right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Boelen’s Python; Black Python

Scientific name: Morelia boeleni

The basics:
The magnificent Boelen’s Python is among the most striking and sought after of all constrictors. It is found only in New Guinea’s humid, mountainous rainforests. Boelen’s Pythons seem restricted to steep cliff-faces, and have been found at altitudes of over 8,000 feet above sea level. Temperatures typically vary from the mid 40’s to the mid-80’s F in a single day. Most use underground shelters among the rocks at night, but due to the inaccessibility of their habitat, we know little of their natural history.

Appearance / health:
The Boelen’s Python is “muscular” in build and averages 6-9 feet in length, with some individuals exceeding 10 feet. The beautifully-iridescent black background coloration, unique among pythons, is set off by the underside’s brilliant white. Stark white bars extend to the upper lip, and also mark the first 2/3 of the body. The head is wide, and the scales have a “velvety” feel – all in all, a most striking creature!

Behavior / temperament:
These large, powerful constrictors tend to remain high-strung in captivity, and do not take well to handling. Stressed individuals will go off-feed and may suffer related ailments. Two experienced people should always be on hand when snakes of 6 feet or more in length are fed or handled. Consistent captive-breeding may change this situation in the future.

Housing:
Boelen’s Pythons are more active than most of their relatives. Youngsters may be accommodated in terrariums of a length equal to their own, but adults require custom-built cages measuring at least 6 x 4 feet. Cypress mulch, eucalyptus bark and similar materials are preferable to newspapers as substrates. A dry cave or hollow log, along with another stocked with damp sphagnum moss, serves well as a shelter. Stout climbing branches should be provided, and the enclosure’s screen lid must be secured by cage clips. The cage should be located in a quiet, undisturbed area of the house, as Boelen’s Pythons are high strung and frequently strike when disturbed. Boelen’s Pythons fare best when afforded a wide temperature gradient, such as 70-85F; a dip to 65 F at night is beneficial; Basking temperature: 88 F. Humidity should average near 85%, but dry areas must be available.

This is not a species for beginners (or those with limited funds….they are very expensive!), as Boelen’s Pythons are rather delicate in captivity and much remains unknown about their basic needs. Many in the pet trade are wild-caught, so a vet exam is essential for newly-acquired pets. The enclosure should be misted daily and thoroughly cleaned each 2-4 weeks. Humidity and temperature levels must be monitored carefully.

Diet:
Wild Boelen’s Pythons feed upon rodents, birds, and marsupials such as possums, phalangers and cuscus; hatchlings take frogs and lizards. Pets do well on a diet comprised of mice and rats, but many are reluctant to accept lab-raised rodents. Scenting with chicken generally encourages feeding. Boelen’s Pythons drink heavily, especially after feeding. Some keepers believe that spring water is preferable to tap, but documentation of this is not available (given their high price, spring water would seem worthwhile “insurance”!).

Breeding:
Wide temperature fluctuations, as described above, may stimulate reproduction, but captive breeding is, unfortunately, very rare.

Written by Frank Indiviglio

wonderful

beautiful snakes, different colors, captive bred babies, Colorful sheen

challenging

captivity, delicate reptile, health problems, right conditions, huge cage

interesting

rare python, strong build heads, wide temperature gradient

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