I have decided to write this monthly blog to share how I keep and breed pythons to hopefully create a bit more content for my website and its subscribers. This is by no means a rule book, it is only my thoughts and the process that I go through when keeping pythons. There are many ways to keep and breed reptiles, I like to try things out for myself so I am always tweaking things a little bit. With everything except one Axanthic Carpet Python clutch left to hatch this month, it has been all about feeding hatchlings and planning pairings.
I put a lot of thought into what snakes I want to pair and where I want to go with the projects I'm working on. This is something I am always thinking about but January is when I am really crunching the numbers. Unfortunately, I cant do everything and often have to decide which projects to move forward and which ones to let go. Some of the projects I will continue with this coming season are improving my Sunglow and Ghost lines. I also look forward to possibly hatching a few firsts for me by producing some Silver Peppers, Grant line Jungles, T+ Stimmies and fingers crossed for some Albino Macs after my female slugged out last season. One pairing that I am undecided about is whether to introduce a Hypo Caramel Jag girl into the Sunglow line or start something different and pair her with my Zeb Jag het albino. There is still plenty of time to decide, she will be conditioned for the coming season either way.
This season I'm attempting to get all my Carpet Pythons started on pinky rats. This can be a controversial subject, with the argument against being that mice of an equivalent size are more developed in terms of bones, organs and fur therefor a more substantial meal. I have found that they grow well on either mice or rats and haven't seen any adverse effects to starting carpet pythons on either pinky rats or velvet mice. I choose to use pinky rats as I find it easier to keep going with rats and not have to worry about changing from mice to rats later on. Usually by around 10 feeds I have them on velvet rats. There is also a preference to snakes that eat rats when selling, so starting them on rats is often easier for any new snake keepers who don't have experience with changing over food items. Again this is all personal preference and I don't think there is a problem with either food item.
Most of this seasons hatchlings are feeding well on rats so far with only a few needing a bit of convincing. One trick I use is to stuff a bit of chicken down in the rat's mouth or just under the skin on its head. Some snakes seem to prefer a bird diet and the scent can often help get them started. Another trick I use is to take their water away for a few of days and then place a wet rodent on a small plastic lid. As the snake comes over for a drink they often eat the food item in the process. I have found that this method works really well and have had a lot of non feeding hatchlings start feeding unassisted this way. Sometimes nothing seems to work with the odd stubborn ones and they need to be assist fed until they decide they want to start eating. That usually means feeding rodent tails, although they aren't that nutritionally dense I find that tails cause less stress than assist feeding with other food items. Feeding tails involves poking the thicker part of the tail into the hatchlings mouth far enough that it can't spit it out. This is usually just into their throat as the backward facing hairs forces the hatchling to consume the the rest of the tail themselves. After a few feeds like this a large amount of non feeders start to feed unassisted. I have never had a snake that refuses food forever it just takes time and patience.
Most of my adult Carpet Pythons are on a maintenance feeding schedule at the moment. This means adult males are getting a medium or large rat monthly and females, a large rat every 2 weeks. Any subadults that I am trying to get to size for this coming season are on a weekly feeding schedule. The Anteresia are slightly different with the adult males and females both being fed a large mouse or wiener rat every 2 weeks. Hatchlings are being fed every 5 days until they have had 10 unassisted feeds then I slow it down to weekly or fortnightly depending on if they are holdbacks or not.
The following month of February is when feeding gets ramped up for the breeding animals. It is a busy month as most of the snakes are in the peak of feeding this means lots of cleaning and feeding.
FEED, SLEEP, CLEAN, REPEAT