The Spotted Python is a commonly kept species of snake, especially in Australia. These snakes are relatively easy to care for and are becoming more popular in American and European collections.
The Spotted Python belongs to the Antaresia genus. This genus contains three other species, the Children’s Python, the Stimson’s Python and the Pygmy Python. All four of these snakes were considered the same species until recently.
Spotted Python Description
The Spotted Python is one of the smallest species of Python. They usually only grow to around 3-4 feet in length. Their bodies are light brown in colour with darker brown blotches dotted over their bodies.
These dark blotches give the appearance of spots, hence the snakes common name. However, these blotches can also appear as stripes, especially near the head and tail of the snake.
Natural Habitat and Distribution
The Spotted Python can be found in the North-Eastern to Eastern regions of Australia. Their range extends from Cape York in Queensland to the northern regions of New South Wales.
They can be found in a wide range of habitats including wet forests, dry woodlands, river banks, and areas with rocks, particularly caves that are home to bats.
The Spotted Python is a shy snake. They can be quite nervous as babies which can result in a defensive bite. With regular handling and interaction they will learn that you are not a threat.
Spotted Pythons as Pets
Spotted Pythons make great pets. They are commonly kept in Australian collections and are becoming more popular in America and Europe.
They are often kept by beginners due to their docile nature. They are also one of the smallest species of Python, which can be very appealing to beginner hobbiests.
Feeding a Spotted Python
In the wild, young Spotted Pythons feed mainly on small lizards. However, they will also eat other prey when the opportunity arises such as small mammals and amphibians.
As these snakes grow, the bulk of their diet will consist of bats and small mammals buth they will continue to eat lizards when the opportunity arises. They are even known to prey on birds.
These non-venomous snakes have heat-sensing pits to help them track and locate prey. When they catch a meal, they kill it by constriction, similar to how an Anaconda kills its prey.
In captivity these snakes can be fed a diet of frozen thawed rodents. A hatchling Spotted Python can be fed a pinkie mouse every 5-7 days. The size of the rodent should be increased as the snake grows.
Adult Spotted Pythons can be fed every 7 days for the duration of their life. As they are nocturnal snakes, it is best to feed them at night. The size of the rodent should be no bigger than the largest part of the snake’s body.
Spotted Python Housing
As this is a relatively small species of snake, they do not require extremely large enclosures. A juvenile will do well in a tub or rack system for the first few months of their life.
The heat source (heat mat) should be placed at one end of the enclosure to allow the snake to thermoregulate. You should also include a hide at either end of the enclosure to allow the snake to feel secure.
As the Spotted Python grows, they can be moved to a larger enclosure. A fully-grown adult can be comfortably housed in a 3ft x 2ft x 1.5ft enclosure. Bigger isn’t always better as snakes can become stressed if their enclosures are too big.
Light and Heat
Like all snakes, Spotted Pythons are cold-blooded, which means they cannot generate their own body heat and must rely on their environment to maintain correct body temperatures.
The hot end of the enclosure should be approximately 85-90F while the cool end of the enclosure should be kept around 75-80F.
There are a number of different ways to heat a Spotted Python enclosure which includes Heat Mats, Spot Lamps, Ceramic Bulbs, Heat Panels etc. Whichever method you choose, it is important for the heat source to be on one end of the enclosure to allow for a thermal gradient.
You must always ensure that your heat source is connected to a high quality thermostat. This will ensure the temperature remains constant inside the enclosure.
Spotted pythons do not need any UVA/UVB lighting. If you choose to add lights to your enclosure it is important that they are turned off at night. This is to give your snake a proper day/night cycle.
A Spotted Python will do well on a wide variety of substrates. Many people choose to keep these snakes on Aspen or Cypress Mulch type bedding which works really well.
You could also keep these snakes on a coco fibre or other soil based bedding. It is important not to have the bedding too wet though, these snakes like humidity levels of around 50-70%.
You can also keep a Spotted Python on newspaper or paper towel. These are great if you are looking for something that is easy to clean.
Handling a Spotted Python
Handling a Spotted Python becomes easier as the snake grows. As they are generally shy, nervous snakes they can be a bit nippy as juveniles but they will grow out of this.
If you are nervous about being bit by s nippy snake, there are precautions you can take. Removing the snake from the enclosure with a hook will usually be enough to prevent them from biting.
These snakes are actually very docile and make great first pet snakes. The majority of these snakes will never bite and if you handle your Spotted Python regularly, they can become very accustomed to spending time out of their cage.