Make your own free website on Tripod.com

Home | Animals for Sale | Classifieds | Scientific Info | Care Sheets | About Us

Burmese Python


Python molurus bivittatus



I would like to first like to thank Tom Townsend and Jeff Clark for some of the information contained in this document. Their experiences and unknown assistance made this as informative as you see it now. I couldn’t have done all of this without these guys.

General Information


This generally docile python is native to SE Asia and derives its name from one of its native countries, Burma. These species and its relatives, the Indian Python, P. m. molurus, and the Ceylonese (Sri Lankan) Python, P. m. pimbura are found ranging from India and the island nation of Ceylon through out the mainland of SE Asia. Their status in the wild has caused the Burmese python to be placed on the CITES II list with the Indian and Ceylonese pythons currently on the CITES I list which places them as endangered or threatened with extinction in the wild. A federal permit is required to keep the Indian python and possibly the Ceylonese.

Captive born Burmese pythons are readily available in a variety of color and pattern variations and in such numbers that there is no real need for importation except by the most serious herper who is looking to spend large amounts of money on a new and exciting variation. This does happen from time to time and allows new animals and bloodlines to be made available on the market.

Baby Burmese pythons are often nippy (they bite at everything) due to fear. With regular handling they calm down and become placid adults. In our experience, these are a snake with a good memory and recognition of their keepers. We have an albino male here that was poorly treated by the pet shop employees (all females) until we got it at 4 feet in size. To this day he seems to detest Debbie and has been witnessed passing up food in an attempt to strike at her. However, men can handle him with no problems regardless of prior contact. Treat your Burmese python right from the very beginning in order to have a good pet snake as an adult.

Size and Life span


The Burmese python is one of the true giants among snakes with at least one adult female known to have grown in excess of 24 feet long weighing over 400 lbs. Adult lengths of 15 to 22 feet are not uncommon with females tending to be noticeably larger than males. Some Burmese have been known to achieve 8 to 10 feet in length in approximately 18 months and breed though most keepers/breeders would suggest waiting until females are a little larger and older before this is attempted. The life span is much like the ball python with 25 or more years possible if well cared for in captivity.

Babies begin life at 18 to 24 inches in length and after their first shed are capable of eating adult mice or similar sized rats. These are hungry little eating machines and will gorge themselves to the point of obesity. Keepers must always be aware of comparative sizes in these snakes, as they are prone to overeating and developing health complications because of this. Because of the sizes that can be obtained in such a short time span, keepers of Burmese pythons must be prepared to feed larger prey animals to these snakes such as rabbits. This expense must be considered carefully prior to purchase.

Requirements


These big babies need lots of room. Some keepers surrender large closets or even entire rooms of their home to provide sufficient room for this large python. Because of their generally tame nature, this is usually not considered a problem like it would be with other, more aggressive species. Also, because of their rapid growth in the first 2 to 3 years, it is advisable to start even a young Burmese python in an enclosure large enough to allow growth to at least 10 feet. Otherwise you will be caging to larger cages every 6 months or so until their growth rate slows. Burmese need a cage ˝ as long as their entire body and approximately 1/3 as wide. Height is not as important as these are generally ground dwellers but will bask on higher ledges, shelves or heavy limbs if possible (obviously these need to be extremely sturdy.) They need 10 – 14 hours of available light daily and fluctuations for breeding are described below.

Burmese pythons require tropical temperatures of 78 to 92 degrees with a definite gradient available to allow the snake to thermoregulate. In colder climates, a floor heater such as a pig blanket can be used provided it is attatched to a thermostat to allow the keeper to regulate how much heat is being provided. Humidity should range from 50% to 80% with 70% being an ideal range. Burmese pythons are prone to dry sheds that must be assisted by hand if their enclosure becomes to dry. One way to help this is to keep a dish of water available at all times that is large enough for the snake to soak. Another solution that can be used along with this (not by itself) is to bathe your snake at least once each week in a large bathtub. They are quite good swimmers and the only problem is their curious behavior which lends to them crawling out to explore the surroundings further.

Because of their need for warmer, more humid climates, these snakes are prone to respritory problems such as pneumonia and other infections. To add to this problem is the fact that many bacteria and viruses which attack snakes are gram negative rather than gram positive (most common in humans and other mammals) and need to be treated by a competent herp vet.

Feeding


These are voracious eating machines and feeding time is never a time to let your attention slip into neutral. Because of their size potential, it is best to get your Burmese feeding on pre-killed/thawed prey as quickly as possible. By the second feeding, if not the first, offer dead food only. This helps break the notion of motion equaling food. Also, live prey can become dangerous to your snake as it gets larger. Adult rats and rabbits are capable of killing your snake with their teeth and/or nails.

As stated previously, baby burms can eat adult mice or crawler rats at their first feeding. They quickly graduate to jumper and small rats. By the time a burm is 5 feet long, 1 or 2 large to jumbo rats is a single meal. By 8 to 10 feet, they should be switched to rabbits. By the time they are 15 to 20 feet long, a single meal may require 2 to 5 rabbits.

These snakes can be fed every week when they are young and gradually slowed down after the first year to every 10 to 14 days. This is for a couple of reasons. First, it lessens the chances of obesity and related health risks. Second, it allows you to work with your snake on a more regular basis between feedings since you should wait 2 to 4 days after feeding to handle it. This allows digestion to be well started and lessens any risk of your snake regurgitating its meal which is unhealthy.

Breeding


The big key here is to have sexually mature snakes of each sex. Burmese pythons reach this maturity if 18 months to 4 years. It is better described as a size with males reaching maturity at 7 to 9 feet and females being 9 feet or longer. Captive breeding usually occurs between late October and early March.

Make sure your snakes are in good health and of good weight before attempting to breed them. Stop feeding at this time and reduce their light to 8 – 10 hours per day. Cage temps can also be reduces at this time to the upper 60s and low 70s at night with daytime temps not reaching much above 80 degrees. After at least a week, of cooler temps, slowly raise the temps and increase the available light. Misting them at this time may be helpful in simulating a rainy season. This is the time to introduce your snakes by placing the female into the male’s cage.

After copulation, return the female to her own cage. She can take up to a month to ovulate and will lay eggs after a pre-lay shed. Females can lay 20 to 80+ eggs. Smaller, brownish colored eggs are usually infertile while good eggs resemble soft goose eggs that are white. The female will incubate good eggs and push infertile eggs, or slugs, out of her coils. Muscular contractions help her maintain optimum incubation temps. Artificial incubation can be done provided temperatures are between 88 and 90 degrees.

Babies hatch in 55 to 70 days and are fully independent upon hatching.

Infertile eggs are common when the female is kept in too small an enclosure to allow a proper temperature gradient before and during the breeding season. This is the #1 reason to have a large enclosure for these snakes, especially if you want to try breeding them when they mature. Another problem is keeping the snakes, usually the female, too warm durning ovulation and fetilization by trying to keep her too warm by forcing her into a temperature range that may in fact be warmer than is required. This can cause premature ovulation, improper shelling, and improper fertilization. As keepers, we often try to micro-manage the habitat and this often leads to a higer rate of failure than letting nature take its course within certain limiting factors.

Mutations


A number of different mutations are available in captivity besides the normal phase. These include, but are not limited to; albino, labyrinth, granite, blonde, patternless (green), marble, brindle, hypo, leopard, Indian/Burmese crossed, and multiple variations of all of the above such as the albino labyrinth. As more are bred in captivity, look for more mutations, or morphs, to become available.