Species group: Boas, Anacondas and Pythons
Other common names: Asian Rock Python
Scientific name: Python molurus bivittatus
One of the world’s largest and heaviest snakes, the Burmese Python can be 13 feet long within 3 years of hatching, and reach an eventual length of 18-24 feet and weight of 300-400 pounds. Although very impressive and interesting, snakes of this size are dangerous predators, and not suitable pets for most people.
The Burmese Python ranges widely throughout South and Southeast Asia, being found in northeastern India, Myanmar, southern Nepal, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, southern China and Hong Kong. Introduced populations are established in Florida, USA and Puerto Rico. Quite adaptable as long as a permanent water source is available, they may be found in wooded grasslands, swamps, open forests, river valleys and rocky foothills. Farms, suburbs and the fringes of urban areas are frequently colonized.
Appearance / health:
The Burmese Python is a heavy-bodied snake that measures 18-24 inches upon hatching and may exceed 20 feet when full-grown. The ground color is yellowish-white or tan fading to cream along the flanks, and the body is marked with large chestnut to brown blotches throughout. There is an arrow-shaped mark on top of the head. A wide variety of color morphs are available in the pet trade.
With proper care, captive longevity for this hardy species may exceed 30 years. Dry sheds are common in terrariums where the average humidity is consistently below 30%, but skin infections will take hold in overly-damp environments. As with most snakes, Burmese Pythons may be subject to mites, inclusion body disease, and other ailments.
Behavior / temperament:
Often mistakenly described by as “calm” or “tame”, Burmese Pythons are not domesticated animals and must never be handled carelessly. Two strong, well-experienced adults should always be on hand when specimens over 5 feet in length are fed, cleaned or moved. Even small individuals are unsuitable pets for children. Long term pets have killed adult owners as well as children. The head must never be allowed near one’s face, as even well-habituated individuals may react to scents or vibrations that people cannot sense.
Hatchlings can be accommodated in a 55 gallon aquarium. After 2-3 years, a homemade cage or re-designed room will be necessary. Security is a major concern, as large pythons are immensely powerful. The huge volume of waste produced necessitates a floor drain in most cases. Stout, well-anchored branches or basking shelves and a hide box should be provided. Newspapers, butcher paper, terrarium liners and Astroturf can serve as substrates for young snakes, but large individuals are best kept in enclosures that can be scrubbed and hosed-out.
Burmese Python enclosures should be maintained at a temperature range of 77-86 F, and provided with a basking site of 90 F. A thermal gradient allows snakes to regulate their body temperature by moving from hot to cooler areas, and is critical to good health. Heat pads and pig blankets located beneath the cage floor should be provided for larger individuals.
The range of animals recorded as Burmese Python prey is vast, and includes monkeys, chital and hog deer, wild pigs, peafowl, small leopards, civets, rodents (including porcupines!), toads, fish, pangolins, lizards and domestic species such as chickens, goats, sheep, cats, and dogs. Feral Burmese Pythons in Florida, USA feed upon endangered species such as the Key Largo Wood Rat. Escaped pets have, in several instances, killed and attempted to consume children.
Hatchlings can handle adult mice, and soon move on to rats. Rabbits are usually the least expensive option for moderately-sized to large specimens. A 10-foot-long python will consume 100-150 pounds of food yearly.
A second experienced person should always be present when snakes over 6 feet in length are fed. Food should be offered with a long handled snake tongs. Pythons, no matter how long in captivity, will not distinguish between food and owner at feeding time - anything moving within range will be bitten!
A cooling-off period of 1-4 weeks at a temperature of 80 F by day and 68-72 at night, with an 8 hour day length, will often stimulate reproduction. Heavy misting is employed by some breeders as temperatures are allowed to rise back to normal. In many cases, however, breeding will occur without temperature manipulation. Gravid females produce 15-80+ eggs, which they incubate by coiling about the clutch. Eggs incubated at 88-91 F hatch in 50-70 days.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
friendly dispositions, expert snake keeper, eager feeders, beautiful pythons, color morphs, Gentle Giants
secure caging, aggressive feeding response, large enclosures, 14ft monster, powerful snakes, immense size
invasive species, temperment variety, prekilled feeders, expensive food preferences.
Burmese Pythons - Beautiful, but gigantic.
Burmese Pythons are beautiful, almost ornate-looking dark snakes, with brown blotches running down their back. They are sometimes mistaken for African Rock Pythons, which look similar (although the blotches on Burmese Pythons are bolder and less densely packed). Burmese Pythons are often sought after by snake enthusiasts for their colour and majestic patterns. ‘Morphs’ (Genetic variations of the traditional Python) and albinos are also very popular, and can come in a number of interesting colours and patterns.
Burmese Pythons are one of the largest snakes in the world, averaging at 3.7 metres long, but have been known to grow as long as 5.7 metres. They can live over 20 years, and will grow quickly for the first 4 years, growing slowly thereafter. These giant constrictors, can be fed anything from rats to rabbits and even poultry. Some of the larger Burmese Pythons have been known to eat goats and pigs (or in some cases, alligators). Do not overfeed- The sheer size of them and the volumes of food they require make them opportunistic, and they are likely to eat any food presented to them regardless of how hungry they are, which can lead to obesity, and other health problems.
Housing a Burmese Python is no easy task. If you are raising a Burmese Python from birth, you will need at least a 50 gallon tank, with the space required to expand upon this as your Python grows. Plexiglass and Wood are often chosen to house these snakes, but do not underestimate their size, strength or cunning when it comes to escaping from confined spaces. They are also semi-aquatic, and will need a permanent source of water to drink and swim in. Burmese Pythons are able to remain submerged in water for as long as half an hour, so ensure you have a reasonably large source of clean water for your Python that is changed regularly. Burmese Pythons also like to climb, so ensure your cage has branches available for them to climb up.
In terms of temperature, you will need to ensure your tank is kept at about 29-31 C throughout the day, and drops to around 25-27 C at night. Heating pads and ceramic heat elements are good for maintaining a steady temperature, but always make sure you have a working, accurate thermometer on hand to ensure the temperature remains stable.
Burmese Pythons are generally nocturnal creatures, and it is important that you give them something to hide in or under to avoid stress. They are generally more active at night, so do not try to handle them too much during the day. Generally, the Burmese Python is a docile creature, however, do not underestimate how large and powerful these constrictors can be. A young Burmese Python can kill a child, and a large Burmese Python can kill an adult. Be very careful when handling them, as they may be cautious and fearful towards humans. Handling your Burmese Python a lot during it’s youth will make it easier to handle later on in life, however, as they Python gets bigger, ensure you always have another person present when handling them, as you could be putting yourself in danger.
The Burmese Python is definitely not a snake for beginners or the inexperienced. Some areas (noteably the Florid Everglades) have suffered as a result of negligent owners releasing Burmese Pythons into the wild, where they have thrived and become something of an invasive species.
Beware of their rapid growth rate and insatiable appetite. Before considering buying a Burmese Python, think about whether you have the resources required to feed and house your Python, and as always, ensure you have access to a Veterinarian trained in handling snakes and other exotic reptiles.
From JC_Axe Jan 23 2015 7:36AM
Burmese Python: The Cold-blooded Truth
I love the cool, smooth, scaly feel of a snake on my skin and I always have. Snakes are incredibly fascinating and Burmese Pythons are no exception to this. Rocky was just over two feet when we adopted her from a neighbor who didn’t feel comfortable having a snake in the house with a baby on the way. Though we had cats, a dog, and fish, we welcomed the slithery creature into our menagerie.
As a young snake, we occasionally let Rocky roam around rooms under supervision, even with the dog and cats around. We fed Rocky live mice at first and watched the predator-prey scene in a controlled environment. As she grew and aged, we increased the size of her prey so that she could “hunt” rats. The only time there was an issue with feeding was when my dad stuck his hand in her enclosure to move the rat and she struck his hand. She immediately recoiled and did not try to constrict, it’s still a vivid memory.
When Rocky had grown to 9-feet long, we wanted her to have a larger enclosure, so we moved her to a small shed. It was warm (we lived in Florida), properly ventilated, allowed for plenty of hiding as well as roaming, and was her own little home.
However, sometimes Florida can get chilly and there was a big freeze one year. Rocky had gone into hibernation – my dad went to bring her into our main home to keep her warm. Without realizing she was hibernating, he immersed her into warm water which shocked her awake and then she died. Lesson learned..
From Frightmare Jan 28 2015 2:11AM