Children’s Python.. What you need to know!

summary

The Children’s Python (Antaresia Childreni) is a non-venomous snake that comes from areas up in Northern Australia. They’re named after John George Children,  who discovered it in the 1800’s. These snakes have a pretty calm demeanor, and are usually recommended for those who are new to owning a snake!

Younger hatchlings may be a little flighty when they’re small, and display a brighter colour that will eventually fade into their natural reddish/brown colouring.


how long do they live for?

Reptiles themselves can be a large commitment with their care, and with just how long they can live. The average Children’s python lifespan can be up to 30 years in captivity.

 

How large do they grow?

The typical Children’s python size is between three and four feet in length. These are considered one of the smallest python species, and stay quite slim too.

Enclosure requirements

At Nick’s we mostly have young pythons available, however it’s important to consider what they will require when they’re fully grown.

As previously discussed, children’s pythons are the smallest of pythons only growing up to 1- 1.5 metres long. When they are less than 12 months old, you’re going to want to keep them in a smaller enclosure. This species of snake is known to be quite shy in larger environments, and may refuse food if they become too stressed.

When you first take your python home from the store, we recommend shopping through our nano terrarium section. Note: You will need to upgrade as they grow, which will be within 1-2 years. 

When they are 8-12 months old and eating consistently and shedding nicely, it’s a good time to plan their forever enclosure. As this is where they will spend their next 30 years of life, it’s imperative you try make this a place of comfort, security and full of enrichment.

There are different kinds of enclosures (glass tanks, plastic bins, snake racks and decked out wooden vivariums). We follow the recommendation of an enclosure of 900mm x 600mm x 600mm as the minimum for a fully grown children’s python.

Each different style of enclosure has it’s benefits and disadvantages. When choosing a material, take into consideration where the enclosure may be (e.g. foot traffic, light exposure, ventilation, escape proof lids, low height/high height). Another important consideration is the heating aspect, glass tanks may not hold the heat as well as others (so the right balance of heat exposure is encouraged), and it’s a good idea to make sure you try cover the enclosure with plenty of greenery.

You can shop our full range of vivariums and terrariums here.

You can get creative when setting up their tank enclosures trying to replicate their outdoor habitat. For the Children’s Python their natural habitat are in grasslands, wetlands, shrubland and forests. At Nick’s we have a wide range of substrate, ornaments like hides and greenery to help your snake feel secure in their environment.

Although children’s pythons are known to be terrestrial ground dwelling, it’s not rare that they will climb if given the opportunity.



find your snake enclosure here

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Ideal for housing spiders, scorpions, hatchling pythons, geckos, hermit crabs and other small critters. Shipping = Local Pick Up Only 

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Excellent for small creatures such as spiders, scorpions, hatchling pythons, geckos, hermit crabs, and other small pets. Shipping = Large 1 Shot

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Heating requirements

Just like any other reptile, the Children’s python is ectothermic (they cannot regulate their own body temperature). Since we are keeping them in captivity, it is our responsiblity to make sure we offer an accurate temperature gradient so they can self regulate by moving to different areas of the enclosure based.

You will need to have one half of the enclosure as the warmer basking zone, and the other as the cooling end.

For a hatchling Children’s python, setting a heat mat or heat cord under their enclosure connected to a thermostat will provide adequate heating. We follow the recommendation between 29 – 32 degrees celcius at the basking area at all times (do not turn this off at nighttime). This heat mat/cord should not occupy more than 1/3 of the enclosure to establish that proper gradient.

As you approach the opposite side (cooler side), the temperature should gradually decrease with the cooling side sitting around 25 degrees. If the temperature goes down a few degrees at night, that’s perfectly fine. If you find the temperature is dropping dramatically at night, check for air drafts in the room, perhaps a heater for the whole room or a ceramic heat emitter that will emit heat with no light.

 

lighting requirements

Children Pythons are primarily nocturnal species, ultraviolet light (UV) is not as essential to children’s and spotted pythons as it is to other species of reptile.

However, there have been proven a number of positive benefits to a python’s health by providing them with UV lighting. A 7.0 T5 UVB tube is an ideal source of artificial UV light, and can be found at Nick’s Pet Needs.

It’s imperative to provide some lighting for your snake, as pythons do require a ‘day and night’ cycle with lights running for approximately 10-12 hours each day (ideally set on a timer). Python’s also benefit from short periods of access to unfiltered, natural light outdoors.

food and diet requirements

In the wild a children’s python would prey upon a variety of animals including rodents, birds and even hide in the top of caves to catch bats.

In captivity, it’s important to make sure they’re getting enough nutrition.
Readily available at Nick’s Pet Needs are commercially bred frozen mice and rats.

A juvenile python (most commonly sold here at Nick’s) should be fed an appropriate sized mouse once a week. Adult pythons can be fed a larger mouse or small rat every 2 – 3 weeks.

To thaw your mouse, place the food item into a zip lock bag a have in the fridge throughout the day. To then warm it up for your snake, place the zip lock bag in hot water to warm the mouse. Some keepers prefer to put the mouse directly into the water before offering to their snake to encourage extra hydration.

Feeding live food to your python is not recommended as it poses many risks to your snake (injury caused by prey and risk of diseases).

It is also good practice to keep a record book of when a python eats, what sized food item it takes as well as when it’s last shed was.

If you’re stuck on what size mouse/rat you should be feeding your snake, a good rule of thumb is nothing greater then 1.5 x the width of the LARGEST part of their body, and ensure there is a bulge after their meal. If your python goes to curl up in a warm spot, you have a good size mouse for now. A larger meal is usually better for digestion opposed to two smaller ones.

Below is a helpful guide to show the appropriate food size for your snake.

 

water requirements

When it comes to water for your Children’s python, it’s important to keep on top of the maintenance to avoid accumulating bacteria.

Your water bowl should be big enough for your snake to soak in, and the water should be replaced daily with the bowl scrubbed weekly.

The placement of your bowl is recommended to be on the cooler side of the enclosure to avoid evaporating too quickly.




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handling and socialising your new snake tips

When you first bring your snake home, it’s normal for them to be quite shy and flighty. You’re new, their enclosure home is new and their routine may be new.

We follow the recommendation of letting them settle for a week before handling.
After a week of them arriving home, it’s a good idea to try offer their first meal. If successful, you will then wait at LEAST 24 hours before handling.


Tips when handling your snake to build a strong trust:

– Always handle larger snakes with two hands supporting their body to make them feel safe and secure.
– Don’t handle for 24 hours after feed
– Avoid touching near their head, slow movements towards them to encourage them to slither over you
– When first building trust, it’s best to have multiple small interactions (example bringing them out 2 – 3 times a day for only 5 – 10 minutes at a time).
– You will always want to finish the handling session on a positive note, so with that being said if you have a snake that is defensive, it’s best to never put back directly after being bitten as we want to avoid them associating that behaviour with being put straight back into the enclosure.

potential health concerns

It’s imperative to learn the common signs and symptoms of a snake that is ill, so that if you ever see them you can respond quickly.

Snake Mites
Should you find your snake spending extra time in their water bowl (and they’re not actively shedding), unusual behaviours such as frequent rubbing against cage furniture, increased frequency, abnormal sloughing and/or little black dots floating in the water on on their scales they may have an infestation of snake mites (Ophionyssus natricis). These mites cause dermatitis, irritation, anaemia and have been implicated in the transmission of Aeromonas spp (nasty bacterium).

Adult mites can live up to 40 days, and lay up to 20 eggs at a time.
In the captive environment, infestations spread easily between enclosures and the parasite can be very difficult to eradicate from collections of animals.

Once you have identified a positive infestation of snake mites, both the snake and their enclosure must be effectively treated for eradication of the parasite. Temperatures above 50 C and humidity below 50% will kill mite stages. Mites can be easily drowned, however eggs may survive submersion.

The most effective combination of treatments includes:


• Isolation and treatment of affected reptiles in a simple environment (repeat treatment may be required to break the mite life cycle). You can place your snake in an appropriate size sistema lockable lid tub with drilled air holes (or new temporary enclosure), paper towel substrate, a new hide and water bowl. Allow your snake to soak in water to kill off some mites. Monitor your snake for any decline in health.

• Cleaning and treatment of environment including all enclosure furnishings and substrates, and the environment outside the enclosure. This can be difficult if you have a bioactive enclosure – all substrates will need to be discarded and replaced.

Prevention is always the best treatment, we have a mite insecticide spray available to assist with the prevention of mites.
 

Respiratory Infection

Like many reptiles, snakes are subject to respiratory infections. These are commonly caused by environments that are too humid causing bacteria blooms.

Should you notice some of the following symptoms, it’s important to book in with your exotic vet to start a course of antibiotics:

– Excess mucus in their mouth
– Nasal discharge
– Lethargy
– Loss of appetite
– Wheezing or ‘gurgling’ sounds
– Swollen throat

As mentioned above, prevention is always the best treatment. Keep their enclosure clean, provide lots of ventilation and ensure to monitor their humidity. Children’s pythons like humidity around the 60%.

 

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