Children's Python – enclosure
Children’s pythons must be housed in an enclosure that is appropriately sized in relation to the size of the snake. For example, juvenile snakes must be in smaller enclosures and then be moved into larger enclosures as they grow and reach mature size. Adult snakes require larger enclosures.
Enclosure size is an important aspect of housing snakes as young snakes will feel vulnerable in an enclosure that is too large and hence may not thrive. Similarly, snakes that are housed in an enclosure that is too small may not thrive as they won’t be able to move around as they would in their natural habitat.
Glass aquariums with a secure mesh top can be used as snake enclosures but are not ideal as glass has poor insulation properties and can allow the enclosure to cool down too easily or over heat quickly for example if it has sun shining directly on it. Wooden custom built enclosures with glass fronts and commercially available enclosures (examples pictured below) are preferable and recommended as they provide a safe and secure environment for both the snake and handler and also allow easy observation of the snake’s activity. Children’s pythons should not be housed in outdoor enclosures in NSW.
It is recommended to use a long rectangular shaped enclosure with a reasonable height that may allow snakes to climb onto furniture and move about easily. When purchasing juvenile snakes, it is important to consider that multiple enclosures will be needed at different stages of the snake’s growth.
The tank must provide the minimum spatial requirements for pythons and are based on the extended length from snout to tail tip of the longest animal to be housed in the enclosure.
The minimum spatial requirement for Children’s pythons can be found in the Standards for Exhibiting Reptiles in New South Wales. These standards state that the minimum spatial requirements for one specimen are (L refers to the extended length from snout to tail tip of the longest animal to be housed in the enclosure)
The enclosures must be no less than 0.25L2 (0.5L x 0.5L) or 20cm x 30cm, whichever is greater with no dimension less than 0.3L. However, for an adult Children’s Python these minimum sizes are not ideal and it is always recommended to provide more space if possible so they can move around as they would in their natural habitat.
The floor of a snake enclosure can be covered with a variety of substrates. “Butchers paper” two or three sheets thick can be used as the lining of the enclosure. Paper must be replaced as required when it becomes wet or soiled. More natural looking substrates that can be used include sand and coco peat mix with leaf litter, these can be “spot cleaned” with faeces and the surrounding substrate removed as needed. Soil type substrates must be removed and replaced at least once per term or more often as required.
Furniture in the snake enclosure should provide the snake with shelter and areas that they can climb and sit upon and also helps enrich the snake’s environment. Although aesthetically it is nice to replicate the natural environment where the snake would typically live and take shelter with the use of natural furnishings such as rocks, branches and hollow logs, other “unnatural” furnishing can work just as well. These could include cardboard boxes, bricks/pavers and commercially available furnishings such as plastic hide boxes and plastic/terracotta plant pot/saucers (you can cut a hole in these to make an entry/exit for the snake and place it upside down in the enclosure to make a hide). It is important that snakes have multiple places to hide and have privacy in order to feel safe in their enclosure.
When providing furniture for a snake enclosure it is important to remember that some furnishings can be a cause of danger for the animal. For example, if heavy furnishings are used, they can pose a risk of crushing the snake if they somehow shift due to not securely being planted in the enclosure. Also if moving heavy furniture, the snake should be removed from the enclosure first to prevent the risk of accidentally dropping the furniture on top of the snake. These can be provided using boxes or any other mostly enclosed container with an entry hole or a hollow log. Specially designed snake furniture is also commercially available.
It is important to provide a hiding area at the warm end and the cool end of the enclosure to allow snakes to move to an appropriate temperature that suits them.