Reticulated python care
Reticulated python, image by max_thinks_sees
Reticulated Pythons (Python Reticulatus) are one of the largest species of snake in the world (the world record for length is held by these impressive animals at an intimidating 28.5ft). The word reticulated means resembling a net or net-like and in this instance it is a reference to the distinctive criss-cross pattern that adorns these pythons (I personally believe these pythons to be one of the most beautiful species around). They have diamond shaped dorsal markings, light tan in colour, bordered by dark black and vibrant yellow; they have light white spotting down the sides and display full body iridescence. They are of a relatively slender build (for a large constrictor) but don’t be fooled, they’re extremely powerful (in the wild they have colonised many islands due to their outstanding swimming capabilities). In terms of size it is not uncommon for specimens to hit 16ft+ and 20ft+ is not unheard of (the longest snake currently in captivity is a 24ft Reticulated python). In general males are smaller than females (averaging <16ft).
Reticulated Pythons as pets
Ideally any potentially dangerous reptile should be, if possible, obtained whilst young in order to learn its idiosyncrasies and habits in order to avoid Stupid feeding errors (SFEs) and other such mistakes before they become truly dangerous. Reticulated Pythons are a product of their owners. They have a reputation amongst keepers as being of a nervous disposition; however captive bred neonates raised correctly can be significantly more composed. Reticulated Pythons have larger fangs than Burmese Pythons and African Rock Pythons. This fact, coupled with a tendency to spin upon biting makes them capable of inflicting very nasty injuries if they are so inclined. It is very important to consider that Reticulated Pythons are one of those species that in adulthood are certainly capable of killing a person. At the very least you could end up with an aggressive 17ft+ snake that is exceptionally difficult to look after. Additionally life expectancy is long at 25-30 years. Reticulated Pythons are NOT a beginner species. In fact anyone looking to keep these snakes should have experience of keeping large constrictors and must be very much aware of the commitment they are making in terms of time, space and money. That being said, if you have all the available resources, relevant experience and knowledge then Reticulated pythons can be one of the most rewarding species in the hobby.
Reticulated python, image by OZinOH
Reticulated Pythons have the largest natural range of any python, being found across South-east Asia from Bangadesh, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands, the Natuna Islands, Borneo, Sulawesi, Timor, Maluku, Tanimbar Islands, Java, Lombok to the Phillipines. As a result of this Reticulated Pythons occupy a range of habitats from rainforests to woodland and even some grassland. They have adapted relatively well to human encroachment and seem to have little problem surviving on agricultural land, with some reports of them surviving within cities (early 20th century reports of them living in Bankok, surviving on a diet of unfortunate domestic animals). As previously mentioned they are very strong swimmers and are often found around water bodies. They are currently unlisted by the IUCN.
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