Carpet pythons are medium-sized, gloriously patterned animals, native to Australia and the island of Papua. They exhibit quite typical biology and behavior for a python since they are mainly nocturnal animals that subsist on rodents, birds, and lizards, which they undergo by constriction. It is only when the fine details are considered that obviously become so suitable for captivity. At first, one must appreciate the hardy nature of carpet pythons. In their natural homelands, carpet pythons are “weedy” species, which are often found in relatively high densities and survive in the midst of the boundaries between humans and wildlands.
Many carpet pythons are found in suburban and urban locations, and unlike many other species, which have very specific habitat requirements, such as black pythons (Morelia Boeleni) that only survive in the forests of the New Guinea highlands, Carpet pythons are adaptable snakes that can survive in a variety of different microhabitats. This combination of its adaptability and hardy constitutions helps carpet pythons adapt well to captive life. As evidence of this fact, consider that the vast majority of carpet pythons in European and North American collections are the product of several generations of captive breeding efforts.
Keeping carpet pythons as a pet can be rewarding for you, but you should know what to expect before adding one to your family. This includes not only understanding the nature of the care they require but also the costs associated with this care. Assuming you feel confident in your ability to care for a carpet python and bear the associated financial burdens, you can start looking for your individual pet.
Understanding the Commitment
Keeping a carpet python as a pet requires a substantial commitment. You will be responsible for the well being of your pet for the rest of its life. This is an especially important consideration since carpet pythons are quite long-lived animals.
- Can you be sure that you will still want to take care of your carpet python for a decade or more in the future?
- Do you know what your living situation will be?
- What changes will have occurred in your family?
- How will your work life have changed during this time?
You should consider all these possibilities before acquiring a new pet. Failure to do so often leads to apathy, abandonment and even resentment, which is not good for you or your snake. Neglecting the pet is wrong and in some places, it is a criminal offense. You should continue to provide quality care for your carpet python, even once the novelty has worn off, and it is no longer fun to clean the cage and feed it every week.
Once you buy a carpet python, its well-being becomes your responsibility until it dies at the end of a long life, or you have found someone who agrees to adopt the animal for you.
The Costs Of Captivity
Reptiles are often marketed as low-cost pets. While it is true in a relative sense (the costs associated with raising dogs, cats, horses or tropical fish husbandry are often much higher than for carpet pythons), potential caregivers must still prepare for the financial implications of the Carpet python ownership. At first, you should budget for the acquisition of your pet, as well as the costs of buying or building a habitat. Unfortunately, although many keepers plan these costs, they usually do not take into account on-going costs, which will quickly eclipse the initial startup costs.
A surprising fact that most new keepers learn is that the enclosure and equipment will often cost as much or more than the animal does. (except in the case of very expensive specimens)
Prices fluctuate from one market to another, but in general, the minimum that you will spend on a carpet python is about $75, while the least that you will spend on the initial habitat and the varied equipment will also be about $100. Replacement and food will represent additional expenses.
Here are some startup cost options:
- Neonate coastal carpet python: $75
- Hatchling jungle carpet python: $150
- Albino carpet python: $1000
- Small plastic storage box: $10
- Economy plastic cage: $100
- Premium plastic cage: $250
- Screen and hardware for Lid: $10
- Economy radiant heat panel: $20
- Premium radiant heat panel: $100
- Digital indoor-outdoor thermometer: $15
- Infrared thermometer: $35
- Heat lamp shroud and bulb: $20
- Economy thermostat: $50
- Premium thermostat: $150
- Economy water dish: $5
- Premium water dish: $15
- Economy hide: $5
- Premium hide: $15
Forceps, spray bottles, misc. supplies: $20
Food is the biggest continuous cost you will experience while taking care of your carpet python. To get a reasonable estimate of your annual food costs, you should consider the amount of food that will feed your snake per year and the cost of each meal.
Most carpet pythons will consume between 25 and 50 foods per year. The young will eat ” hopper ” or small adult mice, large adults require medium or large rats.
The cost of feeder rodents varies dramatically depending on the source. It is much cheaper to buy them in bulk, but you should consider shipping costs when buying rodents in bulk. Retail rodents usually cost approximately three times the price of those purchased in bulk.
For example, bulk hopper mice can cost approximately $0.35 each, while a single hopper mouse in a pet store probably costs $1.00 or more. Similarly, a small rat costs approximately $1.00 when purchased in bulk, but it will cost at least $3.00 to buy at a pet store.
It can cost you around $17.50 to buy 50 hopper mice in bulk, or $50 to buy them at your local pet store.
While experienced keepers can avoid going to the vet for regular exams, newbies should visit their veterinarian at least once a year.
Assuming your snake is healthy, you may only have to pay for a visit to the office. However, if your veterinarian sees signs of illness, you may find yourself paying for culters, medications or procedures. The wise keepers budget at least $200 to $300 for veterinary costs per year.
It is important to plan for routine and unexpected maintenance costs.
Commonly used items, such as paper towels, disinfectant, and substrate, are fairly easy to calculate. However, it is not easy to know how many burnt bulbs, cracked misting units or defective thermostats you will have to replace in a given year.
Those who keep their carpet pythons in simple enclosures will find that around $50 cover their annual maintenance costs. In contrast, those who maintain elaborate habitats can spend $200 or more each year.
How To Select Your Carpet Python
Pet stores are one of the first places where many people see carpet pythons, and they become the de facto source of pets for many beginning keepers. While they offer some unique benefits to potential caregivers, pet stores are not always the best place to buy carpet pythons, so consider all available options, including breeders and reptile swap, meets, before purchasing one.
There are 4 main considerations to make when selecting a carpet python:
In addition to breeding attempts, the breeding of carpet pythons is essentially identical for both sexes. Some caregivers claim that females eat more aggressively than males, but this has not yet been empirically proven.
However, female carpet pythons tend to have a greater demand from breeders, so males tend to be less expensive than females. An exception to this rule occurs when new color or pattern mutations appear on the market. In such circumstances, male carpet pythons tend to be more expensive than females.
Beginners can succeed with the neonatal carpet pythons, but slightly older specimens, who have already been established and have begun to feed regularly, are preferred.
Because they may have become accustomed to their homes in the long term, mature specimens are not a good choice for newbies.
Ideally, beginners should buy yearlings, as they are more forgiving of mistakes than young animals.
Hobbyists and advanced breeders may consider that the personality of a snake is a low priority compared to its species, gender, age, and other factors. However, for new caregivers, personality can be an important criterion.
When buying a young or older snake, beginners can try to select calm carpet pythons (as long as they eat readily). However, when selecting a neonate, it is often up to the caregiver to select an aggressive, but not nervous, animal, since aggressive animals are often easier to feed.
Always check carpet pythons thoroughly for signs of injury or illness before buying. If you are buying the animal from someone in a different part of the country, you should inspect it immediately after delivery. Notify the seller immediately if the animal has any health problems.
Avoid the temptation to acquire or accept a sick or injured animal in the hope of caring for it to recover health. Not only are you likely to incur considerable veterinary costs while treating your new pet, but you will also fail in your attempts to restore snake health. Sick carpet pythons rarely recover at the hands of newbies.
As much as possible, inspect the following features:
- Observe the snake’s skin
It must be free of lacerations and other damages. Pay special attention to areas that are frequently damaged, such as the tip of the tail, ventilation, and snout. A small cut or abrasion can be relatively easy to treat, but significant abrasions and cuts can become infected and often a regular meaningful treatment.
- Gently check the snake for mites and ticks
The mites are the size of a flake or pepper and can be black, brown or red. Mites often move over the snake, while ticks, if attached and feed, do not move. Avoid buying animals with any of the parasites. In addition, you should avoid buying any other animal from this source, as it is likely that they also harbor parasites.
- Examine the snake’s eye and nostrils
The eyes should look turgid and clear and should be free of discharge. The nostrils should be clean and dry. It is likely that snakes with nasal discharge or those blowing bubbles suffer a respiratory infection.
- Gently palpate the snake and make sure that lumps or anomalies are not visible
lumps in the muscles or abdominal cavity may indicate parasites, abscesses or tumors.
- Check the snake’s vent carefully
The vent should be clean and free of smeared feces. Smeared feces may indicate parasites or bacterial infections.
Because new animals may have diseases or parasites that could affect the rest of your collection, it is advisable to quarantine all new acquisitions. This means that you must keep new animals as far as possible from the rest of your snake collection. Only once you have ensured that the new animal is healthy should you present it to the main colony.
During the quarantine period, you must keep the new snake in a simplified habitat, with a paper substrate, a bowl of water, a place for sunbathing and few hiding places. Keep the temperature and humidity at ideal levels.
It is advisable to obtain fecal samples of your snake during the quarantine period. You can take these samples to your veterinarian, who can check for signs of internal parasites. Always treat existing parasitic infestations before removing the animal from quarantine.
Always tend to quarantined animals last, as this reduces the chances of transmitting pathogens to your healthy animals. Do not wash quarantined water bowls or cage furniture with those that belong to your healthy animals. Always be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling quarantined animals, their cages or their tools.
Quarantine new acquisition for a minimum of 30 days, 60 or 90 days is even better.
How To Feed Your Carpet Python
For new keepers, some aspects of carpet python care are as exciting as feeding your pet. However, feeding your carpet python involves much more than buying a rodent and throwing it periodically into your snake’s cage. Instead, you must select foods carefully, present them safely and do so at an appropriate time.
In general, the best foods for your carpet python are commercially raised rodents, specifically rats and mice.
While there are some minor nutritional differences between rats and mice, both are suitable staples for your pet. It is probably better to feed your snake with weaned and completely furred rodents, rather than newborns. Therefore, it makes sense to feed your snake mice until it is large enough to consume completely furred rats.
While it is possible to feed your snake with other species of prey, especially ducks, chicks and rabbits. These feeding items do not seem to offer any additional benefit to you or your snake and present additional challenges.
Most pet stores have mice and rats that feed, relatively few have ducks, chicks or rabbits in sizes appropriate for carpet pythons. With sufficient effort, most hobbyists can track a source of rabbits, ducks or small chicks, but there are few advantages to justify extraordinary efforts.
Try to feed your carpet with python prey that is approximately 1.25 to 1.5 times its average midbody diameter. They should create a modest, but once the distinct lump in the snake’s body once swallowed.
Most newborns are large enough to consume hopper mice, and in a short time, they are large enough to handle small adult mice.
By the time they reach one year of age, most carpet pythons can handle large adult mice or hopper rats. medium to large rats is appropriate for most adults, although small rats can better serve small individuals.
Live, Fresh Killed Or Frozen
Carpet pythons are perfectly capable of killing small rodents, birds or lizards, but these animals can defend themselves. Sometimes these conflicts lead to serious injuries.
For example, snakes occasionally grab prey incorrectly, which may allow the prey to bite or scratch the snake. In some cases, these wounds can be quite serious. There is also the ethical problem of allowing a rodent to be stalked, bitten, constricted and killed by a snake when it is not necessary to do so. The vast majority of carpet pythons will easily accept dead prey.
Consequently, it is always preferable to feed your snake with pre-killed prey. Whenever possible, these foods should also be of the frozen-thawed variety, which provides some protection against parasites and pathogens.
Most keepers offer young carpet pythons prey items of the appropriate size per week. However, this may represent an excess of calories for mature specimens, which can cause them to gain weight and experience health problems. Consequently, it is sometimes necessary to feed mature snakes less frequently or use occasional fasting for a week.
However, caregivers use a wide variety of feeding schedules. some prefer to offer relatively small items more frequently (perhaps once every 3 to 5 days), while others prefer to feed larger meals less frequently (perhaps once every 10 to 14 days). Still, others can feed two small prey in each feeding.
Any of these schedules will work. The important thing is to control the weight of your tank and make the necessary adjustments.
Safety Precaution While Feeding
Many carpet python bites result from feeding mistakes. Fortunately, these mistakes are easy to avoid by following proper feeding practices.
- Begin by thawing feeding rodent beforehand. Do so by placing the rodent in warm water or leaving it out room temperature. Never try to defrost a rodent in the microwave.
- Once it has completely thawed, remove any distractions and pick up the rodent with your feeding tongs before opening the cage.
- Once you open the enclosure, present the item a few centimeters from the snake’s head. With luck, the snake will quickly bite the rodent and begin to constrict. Release the rodent, remove your hand and close the cage.
- Keep in mind that snakes are often hyper-alert after consuming food, so you should avoid opening the cage for several hours after meals.
- Never put your hand in your snake’s cage while your hands smell like mice, rats, birds, lizards or other potential prey since an excited carpet python can confuse your hand with delicious food.