Updated: Mar 4, 2021
Reticulated pythons or ‘Retics’ as they are commonly known are native to south-eastern Asia, western Bangladesh, and southeastern Vietnam. With most pets originating from Indonesia and Malaysia. It is believed that reports have shown their presence in eastern parts of Sudan, Africa and the Northern Territory in Australia.
These giants of the snake world inhabit tropical rainforests, wetlands and grassland forests all the way up to 2500m above sea level. Their natural environment will range from 24°C - 33°C and humidity can range from 55% to 80% in some areas. Retics like to have their territory close to a large body of water which they will use for predation and protection purposes. They use water to camouflage themselves before ambushing their prey, this behaviour is also seen in forest and wetlands where they will hide under foliage in order to ambush. Due to their large and heavy frame, most of their activity is limited to the ground.
The reticulated python is a beast of a snake and average body length and body mass are in the 4.5 meters (14.7ft) and 132lbs (60kg) once fully grown. They have a net-like pattern combined with their colouration (normal morphs) they are well camouflaged when moving through leaf litter and undergrowth. Backwards curving teeth help hold on to prey before constriction begins.
As you may already know, Retics are constrictors, meaning they will squeeze their prey gradually inhibiting the ability to breathe. Most prey items die of asphyxiation and not being crushed to death as some people believe. Normally birds and mammals are on the menu, but larger adults may take items such as deer and pigs. Once constricted and killed, the prey is swallowed whole, depending on the size of the meal this may last a snake for several months.
A female reticulated python will lay on average between 30 – 80 eggs, but some larger snakes have been known to lay nearly 100. A female will guard her clutch ferociously, and coil around them for approximately 90 days during the incubation period.
Are they good pets?
Retics have a bad reputation for being aggressive and particularly nasty species. But captive bred snakes, with proper care and handling from a young age, can make great pets. Though due to their sheer size and potential aggressiveness they should really only be taken on by experienced owners who have had larger snakes before. Also, take in to account their lifespan of around 25 years they are not
something to take on without serious consideration.
Housing in captivity
This is a contentious issue; some believe in buying a vivarium every so often as your snake grows. Others say to buy one that will suit it once fully grown and ensure plenty of hides, logs, and clutter to make the young snake feel secure. We have tried both methods and if done right both are ok. But this does depend on each individual snake. When fully grown most reticulated pythons will need a custom ‘viv’ or at least an 8ftx3ftx2ft. But as much space possible should be given, with plenty of enrichment and hides. Rocks are also great additions, and a shedding retic will rub against it when shifting any stuck shed. Room for a large bath should also be made as retics do love their bath!
The vivarium basking/hot end should be around 30°C - 32°C dropping to around 25°C - 27°C at the cool end. This should be monitored by a thermostat; we use reptile radiators controlled by thermostats ensuring a consistent temperature. Humidity is also a key part to a happy snake; this should be kept between 55%-70% normally and pushed up to around 75% during a shed to help the snake. Again humidity should be monitored by a hygrometer, if humidity is low, misting with warm water can help this increase. If you are constantly having to mist due to low humidity, then other factors such as the substrate should be looked at.
No special light is needed, but we use a 2% UVB bulb on all our snakes, we find this is beneficial in replicating a natural day/night pattern.
Feeding your retic in captivity is generally easy as they are a ferocious and active eater. Going from small mice/rat pinkies up to ducks, piglets and even lambs when fully grown in captivity. Please ensure you are happy with feeding your snake these types of food before bringing them home. Most snakes can be taught to eat frozen then thawed when needing food. Making it convenient to bulk order. The common rule is one prey item matching the snake’s diameter weekly as the snake grows the feedings can be stretched further apart. It is also important to remember not to overfeed or ‘power feed’ as it is known in the snake world as this can cause rapid growth and health issues later on. We hope this has given you a basic understanding of the reticulated python. We will be producing more specific care sheets in the future on feeding, health and behaviour problems and what to look for when choosing your snake.