Keeping a royal python as a pet
Although most royal pythons in the UK are bred in captivity, their needs are still the same as in the wild. Here's what to keep in mind if you're thinking of keeping a royal python as a pet.
All about royal pythons
- Royal pythons can live longer than 20 years in captivity. If you're adopting or buying a royal python, make sure you're ready to provide the care they'll need for their entire life.
- Royal pythons can grow to around 150cm, but size can differ between males and females.
Setting up a vivarium for your royal python
Here's what your royal python's vivarium will need:
- A secure structure, made from a solid material, easy to clean and free from hazards. Bear in mind, that your snake's vivarium must allow them to stretch out fully.
- Temperature - royal pythons need a 'thermogradient', created by fitting a guarded heat lamp at one end to create a 'basking zone' and leaving the opposite end cool. The basking zone should range from 30 to 32 degrees C, and the cool end 24 to 26 degrees C. Monitor temperatures daily using digital thermometers at each end.
- Lighting - fit a suitable reptile UV-B tube, one-half to one-third of the vivarium length, into the hot end. This will create a 'photogradient' in the vivarium. Remember to turn off the lamp at night.
- Humidity - a hygrometer will measure humidity, which should normally be 50 to 60% to help keep your royal python healthy. Mist the vivarium with clean water to boost humidity to around 80%, allowing it to drop in-between.
Read more on vivariums, including substrate advice in our royal python care sheet.
All snakes may bite under stress or if they smell food. Hatchlings are more likely to bite, as they're shy, but this usually stops as they grow. Royal pythons can become quite docile with careful handling.
Gently scoop up the snake with one hand near the head and the other by its tail. Always support the whole snake and never grab them as it can cause stress which may lead to biting.
Only handle them for around 10 to 15 minutes to prevent their core temperature from dropping too low. Avoid handling until 48 hours after feeding, during shedding or after handling prey.
Royal pythons need a variety of defrosted mice and rats. You can also buy multimammate mice from reptile shops that resemble their wild prey.
Royal pythons have a reputation for going off their food, which can be stress-related. If your snake stops eating for longer than a month, speak to your specialist reptile vet.
Read more about royal python health, including essential supplements for royal pythons and how to feed them, in our royal python care sheet.