The Childrens Python gets its name from John George Children, the scientist who first described them in 1842. The Children’s Python comes from the Anterisia genus which contains 4 species, including the Spotted Python, Pygmy Python and Stimson’s Python.
Its scientific name is Antaresia Childreni and it is a common site in places such as Darwin. They are a very docile species and pose no threat to humans. Juveniles can be a bit nippy but like all Python species, they do not contain any venom. It is a constrictor snake, meaning it kills its prey by coiling its muscular body around the prey and constricting it until it suffocates.
This snake is becoming a more popular a more popular choice amongst hobbyists due to their docile temperament.
The Childrens Python usually grows to about 1 metre in length. They are usually reddish-brown in colour, with many darker blotches running the length of their body. These blotches are often more visible on younger specimens.
In certain lighting, the Children’s Python has a rainbow sheen to it, similar to a Brazilian Rainbow Boa, although not as pronounced. They are a relatively slender snake with a similar build to that of a Corn Snake.
Natural Habitat and Distribution
The Childrens Python is native to the northern parts of Australia in spanning from Western Australia, through the Northern Territory and into Queensland. The can also be found on the Torres Straight islands which are located north of the Cape York Peninsula in Queensland.
They thrive in a wide range of habitats such as savannahs, grasslands, scrub, rocky regions, monsoon forests and dry woodlands. They are generally found on the ground but will occasionally climb trees and rocky regions in search of prey.
Childrens Python Behavior
The Childrens Python is a nocturnal species. It will spend most of the day sheltering in termite mounds and rock crevices to avoid the heat of the day. At night they come out in search of prey.
Like other pythons, they are a non-venomous snake that constricts its prey before swallowing it whole. They prefer to stay on the ground to hunt for food but can be very resourceful and adopt different hunting techniques. They are known to feed on micro-bats which they catch by dangling from stalactites in caves, snatching the bats out of the air as they fly past.
The Children’s Python has a lifespan of about 20 years in the while but is known to live for over 30 years in captivity.
Children’s Pythons as Pets
The Childrens Python is a very easy species to care for. Once their basic requirements are met they are a very hardy snake. They tend to have a very docile temperament and rarely bite. Most bites are due to a feeding response as opposed to a defensive or aggressive strike.
They don’t require extremely large setups as they generally only grow to a little over 3ft in length. They are generally suitable for regular handling and will actively explore their surroundings.
Feeding a Childrens Python
An adult Childrens Python can be fed every 7-10 days on appropriately sized mice or rats. Their food should be about the same thickness as the snake’s body. Hatchlings and juveniles should be fed every 7 days to accommodate growth. It is important not to handle your snake for at least 24hrs after feeding as this can stress the snake and may result in regurgitation. Hatchlings will begin feeding on pinkie mice and the size of their food can be gradually increased as the snake grows.
You should not feed your snake live prey as it can injure them. Most prey items fed to snakes have sharp teeth and claws and can injure your snake if he doesn’t eat it straight away. In the wild, the rodent will have the opportunity to run away if the snake doesn’t choose to eat it. However, in a confined space, such as an enclosure, the rodent will be forced to defend itself against attack. This is cruel for both the snake and the rodent.
The most convenient option is to feed your Childrens Python frozen thawed mice and rats. These are available from most pet stores or can be bought in bulk from suppliers. Another option used by some breeders is to feed freshly killed rodents. This would require you to breed your own supply of rodents and isn’t an option for most people. Never feed your snake wild rodents as they will likely carry disease and mites that can make your snake sick.
It is recommended to feed them outside of their enclosure if possible. This is particularly important if you use a loose substrate as the snake could ingest the bedding while eating. This could cause the snake to become ill or regurgitate its meal. If you do not handle the snake regularly and feed them in their enclosure, they may associate you opening their cage with feeding time. This can increase the chance of you getting bitten.
Like many snakes, Children’s Pythons can occasionally go off their food. This is normal and nothing to worry about providing the snake is a good size and not losing an excessive amount of weight.
Always ensure your snake has a clean supply of water to drink from. This should be changed regularly as your snake will go to the toilet and bath in it. Water should be provided in a heavy, shallow bowl to prevent the snake from tipping it over. Your snake may also bath in the water bowl to help it shed.
Childrens Python Housing
As this is a relatively small snake, they do not need an extremely large enclosure. A fully grown adult will be more than happy in a 3ft x 2ft x 2ft enclosure. This can be decorated with driftwood and plants. Hatchlings should be kept in a smaller enclosure for the first 10-12 months.
These snakes will thrive in a wooden vivarium. Wood is an excellent insulator of heat so this type of enclosure makes it easier to control their temperature requirements. The enclosure should have good ventilation to allow air flow in and out of the setup.
They can also be housed in glass vivariums but you will need to pay closer attention to temperature fluctuations. If using a glass vivarium, it is important to provide the snake with additional hiding spaces as they will feel more exposed in this type of setup.
It is also possible to house a Childrens Python in a racking system. It is however important to choose a rack big enough to accompany the snake and allow for a thermal gradient (hot and cool side).
Whatever type of enclosure you choose, it is important to ensure that your snake has adequate hiding places. A Childrens Python will spend much of the day curled up in a hide. At a minimum, you should provide your snake with at least one hiding space at either end of the enclosure (hot and cold side).
This snake can be quite active at night so it is a good idea to give them a couple of climbing branches and plants to explore. They are very intuitive reptiles, so to keep the snake entertained you can rearrange their furnishings every so often. You will quickly notice them exploring their new surroundings.
A clean supply of drinking water should be present in the tank at all times. A humidity level of around 50% should be maintained to allow your snake to shed properly.
Light and Heat
Like all reptiles, Royal Pythons are cold blooded and therefore depend on their surroundings to get heat. In the wild, a reptile will bask in the sun or sunbath on a heated rock to keep warm. They can then cool down by going into the shade or taking refuge in a burrow. These conditions can be replicated in an enclosure to help your snake with thermal regulation.
A Children’s Python enclosure should be about 32oC (90F) at the hot end and 25oC (78F) at the cool end. Temperatures can drop by about 5oC at night.
You can provide heat for your snake with a ceramic heat emitter or heat lamp. It should be set up on one of the ends of the enclosure to allow a thermal gradient along the setup. The wattage of the heater depends on the size of the enclosure but it should be connected to and controlled by a good thermostat.
Hot bulbs can burn a reptile so ensure all heat lamps are covered using a bulb guard. A snake does not feel heat in the same way as a person, so it is possible for them to get nasty burns.
An alternative way to heat your Children’s Python is with belly heat. This can be provided using a heat mat. The mat can be placed under a hide at one end of the enclosure. Just be sure to have another hide at the cool end so your snake can feel secure when it needs to cool down. This is a common method used in racking systems.
Never use a heat rock for heating snakes. They are prone to getting excessively hot and can burn your snake. There is no need to provide a Children’s Python with UV lighting although it is believed that a 5.0 UVB can be beneficial for them. If you choose to add a light for display purposes, a fluorescent tube or a low wattage bulb can be used. However, ensure that the light is turned off at night to provide the snake with a day/night cycle.
A Children’s Python will do well on a wide range of substrates. Natural looking substrates such as Reptile Bark and Eco Earth are great options. Aspen shavings or Beech chippings are another good option. If the substrate used contains small pieces you may have to remove the snake for feeding to prevent them ingesting the bedding.
Newspaper or paper towels are an inexpensive option. They work great and can easily be replaced when soiled. The downside is that they do not look nice inside the enclosure. This substrate is more suitable for rack systems rather than display tanks.
Artificial grass is a great option if you are looking for a naturalistic look. It can be found in most hardware stores. It is recommended to have two or three different pieces for each enclosure. This allows you to rotate the pieces for cleaning as they become soiled. A great advantage of artificial grass is that the cheaper versions are often the most suitable for reptiles. Cheaper artificial grass is generally softer and more flexible than expensive realistic looking artificial grass. This makes it less likely to harm the belly of your snake.
Do not use Soft Woods such as Cedar for substrate in a reptile enclosure. While it is a very common substrate for small mammals and birds, it is toxic to reptiles. Several species of Cedar are known to be particularly dangerous, such as White Cedar, Japanese Cedar and Western Red Cedar. Pine and other Eucalyptus trees produce aromatic phenols which are reportedly toxic to reptile.
Just like all reptiles, Children’s Pythons will shed their skin. This is completely natural and does not harm the snake in any way. Younger snakes will typically shed more often but even adult snakes will shed regularly.
Their enclosure should be kept at 50% humidity. This will help aid the shedding process. You can gently mist the substrate or introduce a moist hide box into the enclosure during shedding to aid the snake with the process.
After your snake has finished shedding, do a quick examination to ensure there is no stuck shed. Common areas for stuck shed include around the eyes and the tail. Stuck shed can be easily removed by giving your snake a warm bath. During the bath the stuck shed can be easily rubbed away.
Handling a Childrens Python
This is a very docile species that can tolerate regular handling. It is important to build up a level of trust with the snake so begin with short handling sessions and gradually increase it over time as the snake learns that you are not a treat. Juveniles can sometimes be a bit nippy but they quickly grow out of it.
Childrens Python Breeding
The Childrens Python is regarded as one of the easiest snakes to breed. A cooling period can be provided to entice breeding but they will often seek out the cooler end of a tank if this temperature drop is not provided. Food can be offered during this period but it is common for males to refuse to eat. Females tend to go off their food once they are gravid.
During this cooling period, the snakes will breed actively and about 90 days after copulation, the female will lay her eggs. A moist egg-laying box should be provided and once the eggs are laid they should be removed and placed in an incubator. The incubator should be set at about 32oC (90F).
Slightly damp Vermiculite or Pearlite can be used as the incubation media. Eggs should be monitored weekly and any dead, moulded eggs should be removed if possible.
Eggs will generally hatch after about 2 months and the hatchlings can be set up in small enclosures with a few hides to feel secure. They can be offered their first meal after a week or so which will consist of a pinky mouse.
It is recommended to do as much research as possible before purchasing your reptile. If you are planning to purchase one of these snakes, read as many Children’s Python Care Sheets as you can in advance.
We have put together a list of some of the items you may need if you want to purchase a Childrens Python of your own. This list is not exhaustive and many of the items can be replaced with the brands that you prefer.
Note that some of our recommendations contain Affiliate links but we will never link to a product that we don’t like.Exo Terra Glass Enclosure (For Juvenile Only)
Heat Lamp with Dimming Switch
Collapsible Snake Hook