Reticulated python heating and humidity
Reticulated python, image by Schristia
Temperature is one of the most important parameters when keeping reptiles and it is no different for reticulated pythons. In fact getting the temperature perfect for a Reticulated Python may significantly relax it. Due to the Reticulated Python’s expansive range they’re able to tolerate a wider temperature variation than many other species but ideally you should have a temperature gradient of between 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the cool, 92 degrees Fahrenheit in the warm end and an ambient air temperature of 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Night time temperatures should fall no lower than 75 degrees Fahrenheit. It is worth putting multiple thermometers around the enclosure in order to ensure that this temperature gradient is being maintained (don’t simply rely on your thermostat). You should place the thermometers on the floor as this is where the Reticulated Python will be spending most of its time.
The method by which the heat is provided isn’t particularly important as long as the correct gradient is maintained; however some supplemental heating devices such as hot rocks are inappropriate for large snakes which may sustain burns from lying on them for long periods of time. Light bulbs (especially at higher voltages) may be too direct a form of heat that is not only difficult to regulate but can also make humidity regulation problematic. Heat mats and ceramic bulbs are both excellent supplemental heating devices that used together can be used to control all aspects of the temperature gradient. No matter what methods you choose it is essential that you use a thermostat with all pieces of equipment. No exceptions.
Reticulated Python Humidity
Humidity is another parameter that is extremely important. Get this wrong and it can result in all manner of problems ranging from respiratory infections to skin disorders. The important thing to do is to keep a close eye on it and get an idea of how it varies throughout the day in order to establish what you need to do in order to maintain consistent air humidity.
Reticulated Pythons come from areas of high rainfall and as a result enjoy high levels of humidity (around 70%). There are a number of ways of providing this humidity from strategically placing the water bowl, mist spraying or even providing a damp box (this is a hide filled specifically with damp sphagnum moss or newspaper). If you’re having a problem maintaining the level of humidity try covering the top of the enclosure with a towel or covering one of the vents (it is worth noting that vents are best placed on the side rather than the top of the enclosure due to these kinds of practicalities). If the humidity is too low during a shed you may find that the skin comes off in fragments meaning bits are left on. These must be removed manually. As you can imagine this is not a particularly simple task when you’re dealing with a 8ft+ snake especially a nervous 8ft+ snake. When the Python is coming in to shed it is worth increasing the humidity by manually spraying the tank from time to time. If you don’t have one in there, the addition of a damp box may also facilitate the sloughing process.
Fluffy the Reticulated python, one of the largest snakes in captivity.
image by noelmartin
It is important to note that due to the high humidity demands of Reticulated Pythons it is important to check periodically for mould or fungus growth within the enclosure. The chances of this occurring are significantly increased in untreated wooden enclosures or where biological substrates are used.
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