CARING FOR YOUR CARPET PYTHON (MORELIA SPILOTA SPECIES)
This includes the carpet pythons, Jungle Pythons (M. spilota cheynei), Coastal carpet pythons (M. s. mcdowlii), Darwin carpet pythons (M. s. variegata), Murray-Darling carpet python (M. s. metcalfi), South-western carpet pythons (M. s. imbricata), and Diamond Pythons (M. s. spilota). Your snake must be kept in an environment with a suitable temperature range, humidity and daylength. Disease problems in snakes are commonly associated with poor maintenance of these, particularly temperature.
· The Morelia genus of snakes are generally considered to be arboreal, and benefit from a tall enclosure rather than a long one. They like to make use of branches so some cage furniture, to allow climbing, should be provided. Hides placed at various heights are also recommended.
· Each species of snake has a preferred body temperature (PBT) and their enclosure should provide a temperature range of 2-3ºC either side of this PBT. These species typically prefer a temperature range of 25-35ºC. This is best provided by a red lamp or ceramic lamp covered by a heat guard in one corner of the enclosure, which is controlled by a thermostat.
· A thermometer must also be used to monitor the temperature.
· A source of ultraviolet light, either through exposure to unfiltered, natural sunlight, or an artificial UV light will help prevent Vitamin D deficiency and metabolic bone disease. Remember to replace the light regularly (every 6 months) as it will stop producing useful UVB spectrum light even if it still produces visible light.
· The enclosure (ideally made of wood and perspex) should be large enough for the snake to move around and stretch out. These species grow quite large and enclosures may need to be over 2m long or high.
· Humidity should be maintained between 35-75% (depending on the species) and this can be achieved by placing a shallow dish of water in the enclosure which is also used for drinking. Water should be changed daily.
· For most of the year snakes will feed once a week to once every 3 weeks, depending on their size. In winter, most snakes will feed less often or not at all.
· Willingness to eat and digestion in reptiles depends largely on the temperature at which they are housed — in particular, a sudden drop in temperature after feeding may lead to regurgitation or decay of food in the stomach. These snakes are semi-nocturnal so feeds given in the evening are more likely to be accepted.
· All snakes eat whole prey such as mice, rats, chicks or rabbits, depending on the size of the snake.
· Prey must always be offered dead, as live prey may attack your snake. These can be purchased from most pet stores. Frozen prey can be defrosted within a plastic bag placed in a dish of warm water. Check for frozen areas within the mouse before feeding by palpating it with your fingers. Never defrost mice or chicks in the microwave.
· Book a yearly health check, to check faeces and detect general health problems
eg parasite infestations and bacterial infections. Worming may be done at this time.
· Annual blood screening and/or bacterial cultures are recommended for certain pet snakes.
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