Caresheets

With over 50 years collective experience in the reptile trade we have a wealth of knowledge on offer to help with any reptile related problems you may have.
These care sheets are written by the staff at Reptiles Plus and are how we would suggest caring for and keeping each of the following animals.

Boa and Python Care Sheet

Minimum Vivarium Size

Red Tail BoaBaby Pythons and Boas require a wooden vivarium approx. 60cm x 40cm x 40cm until they reach approx. 40-50cm, then they require a wooden vivarium that is large enough that when the tanks measurements of length and width are added together it is greater than the length or your snake.

Be careful not to get or make a vivarium that is more than twice the suggested size as it can put some snakes off feeding.


Vivarium Set-Up

Infra-Red Spot BulbYour snake requires both an incandescent spot bulb and a heat mat roughly 1/3 the size of the floor area for smaller vivarium’s up to (1.3m x 45cm x 45cm). Ceramic/infra-red heating and no heat mat for larger vivarium’s is recommended. Use heat mats with smaller boas and pythons. Using heat mats with snakes that have a belly width greater than 6cm can cause burning and scale rot.

Python and Boa Set UpsAll heating should be positioned at one end of your vivarium to create a basking area and it is strongly suggested that all primary heating sources are controlled by a thermostat. Your thermostat sensor and thermometer should be placed on the floor in the middle of your vivarium and be reading 84°f / 29.5°c and kept running 24 hours a day.

It is highly recommended that you cage all heating from your animal and cover your heat mat with a piece of thin card to prevent your animal from burning or becoming trapped underneath the mat.

Do not use fluorescent tubes to light your snake’s tank, as it can cause stress. They will also break if your snake climbs on it. There are many types of reptile safe LED lights available now.

Substrate, Cleaning And Tank Furniture

Orchid BarkOrchid bark is the suggested substrate (floor covering), but beech chip and aspen bedding are equally effective. Be careful when selecting a dry substrate that your snake does not have shedding problems. Be equally aware that a lot of snakes do not like damp or humid environments for prolonged periods of time, as it can cause skin and respiratory problems.

In the case of Pythons and Boas from high humidity regions it is better to give them large moss boxes     (A plastic tub or tray covered with a cave. Filled with peat and moss) hidden in the vivarium’s furniture. Rather than keeping the enclosure permanently damp.

Spread the substrate evenly across the bottom of the tank at a depth of approximately 3-6cm and should be spot cleaned weekly and fully replaced every 6 weeks. Do not use household cleaning fluids as many are toxic. Use only disinfectants designed specifically for reptiles.

Provide your animal with a minimum of 2 hiding places and a water bowl big enough to fit your snake inside. Normal tap water is fine and you should only 25% fill your water bowl to prevent it from over flowing.

Only use substrate and vivarium furniture from a reputable source and all heavy vivarium furniture should be securely positioned so it does not fall and crush your animal.

Feeding

Only use quality defrosted rodents and make sure it is always thoroughly thawed before feeding. Do not attempt to defrost your rodent in the microwave or in water. Offer your snake one rodent via feeding tongs every 7 days, if it refuses to take leave it in the vivarium overnight. If it still has not eaten try again the following week. All left over the following day should be thrown away and not re-frozen.

When selecting a food size it should be big enough to create a small lump in your snake’s belly or be a least the width of your snake’s belly. If your snake becomes over weight and begins to show fatty lumps under the skin start to feeding your animal less often, every 14-21 days should be fine.
Larger snakes like some adult Boas and Burmese pythons will require much larger food. Rabbits are most commonly used. Due to the size of the meal it is suggested you only feed your snake every 2-4 weeks to prevent obesity.

If your snake stops feeding try warming the food on a plate above hot water until the food is above room temperature, then offer it to your snake. Also try keeping your snake in a smaller tank or transfer it to a small container 24hours before feeding.

Never handle your snake until the visible lump created from feeding has gone.

Health And Handling

Reptile HealthIf you are ever in doubt about the health of your snake call your supplier and if you are still in doubt go and see a recommended specialist veterinarian. Below will be listed a brief guide to help you know what to look for in a sick snake.

  • Prolonged lack of appetite
  • Runny and bubbly nose
  • Excess mucus around the mouth
  • The skin giving a wrinkled or dehydrated appearance
  • Mouth not closing properly
  • Dull or unclear eyes (when not shedding)
  • Inability to right its self or dizzy appearance

During shedding your snakes eyes will glaze over and its body colour will appear duller, this appearance will last up to a week, before it sheds. Always check your snake after it sheds to make sure all of the skin has come off. If your snake does not shed completely call your supplier or a vet for advice on how to remove the un-shed skin. Around the time of your snake shedding it is quite common for your snake to stop feeding and / or become very aggressive. Minimise the time spent with your animal to prevent stress or injury.

After introducing your snake to the vivarium, be sure not to handle it until it has had 3-4 consecutive feeds. This will give you a good indication that your snake has settled in to its new environment. Failure to do this could result in your new snake not feeding or becoming aggressive.

When it comes to handling a Python or Boa it is a very good idea not to immediately approach the snake when entering the vivarium. Use a snake stick to let the snake know you are there and then gently push the snakes head away from you. Then gently support the middle of the snake’s body and bring it out of the tank all the time keeping the snakes head facing in the other direction.

Always remember Pythons and Boas are very sensitive to their surroundings, especially the smell of food, body warmth if waved around its head and carbon dioxide (your breath). Any of these can evoke an uncharacteristic reaction, e.g. biting or striking.

Please also use this care sheet for the Hognose snake, Anaconda’s.

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