Scientific name: Python reticulatus

Size: 8 – 34ft

Lifespan: 15 – 20 years

Wild Population: 7,000+

Primary Colour: Patterned

Endangerment: Common

Habitat: South & South-East Asia

Difficulty of Keeping: Difficult

Optimum environment Temperature: 90°F hotspot with ambient temp of 77-80°F

What do they eat? Mice, Small Rats, birds and large mammals.

Purpose: Reticulated Pythons once grown over 10ft become an apex predator.

Eggs or Live birth: Egg baring snake.

Venomous: None venomous/ None poisonous

Are they kept in captivity? Yes, although not as common as other snakes, experienced keepers successfully house in captivty.

Ease of keeping as a pet: Due to their potiential enormous size, retics are not recommended for new keepers. But can make great pets providing you have the room to house.

Cost: Ranges between £100 – £10,000’s dependant on morph (colour)

Reticulated Python Overview

The biggest snake on the planet with the record setting a whopping 34ft in length, this snake was caught in Indonesia and measured.

So why on earth someone would someone keep a reticulated python in captivity?

With the right amount of experience and understanding of the animal, they can thrive and become puppy-dog tame!

I personally have 1 reticulated python he is a mouthful of a name “Super Dwarf Golden-Child Reticulated Python”.

Now, he is only around 8ft in length but is a big softie, he loves to climb and highly active so controlling him from knocking things off shelves can be difficult.

Never once has he struck, nor does he show any signs of wanting to, as long as he is respected and not grabbed at he loves being out his vivarium.

Every Retic is not going to be this way mind, if you are not confident in handling big snakes (cause that little noodle you see in the pet shop will grow) I would suggest starting with a smaller snake, such as a boa constrictor or even still a corn snake or king snake are fabulous snakes to keep as pets.

Tyes of reticulated python

There are 3 main types a super-dwarf, a dwarf and a mainland retic. The differences between are massive so make sure you are clear on this before moving on.

Dwarf Retic

The dwarf is known as the mid-sized of the three, coming in at a growth rate average of 10 – 12ft.

Super Dwarf  

The supers usually grow to a size of between 6 – 8 ft in length and are the smallest of the retic family.

Mainland Reticulated python

The biggest and has the potential to reach a huge size of 25ft+, though most grow on average grow anywhere between 14ft – 20ft for the most part.

Why is this so important?

There are 2 main reasons for the importance of knowing this information, first is that you know what to expect, so always predict the largest size will be achieved not the smallest.

The second most important is where you buy the snake and is it from a reputable breeder. There is no way of telling without seeing the parents of the snake what to expect.

Unfortunately, there has been so many cases of people buying super-dwarf reticulated pythons only to find their snake is growing at a rapid rate and they in fact have a mainland.

Finally, before assuming all breeders can be dishonest, due to cross breeding of the mainland with dwarf and super-dwarf in 3rd or 4th generations previous, some snakes genetic size skips a generation. Then the mainland size reappears in the offspring of a dwarf.

What is the diet of a retic?

Their diet in captivity will consistent of eating, mice (if they are small enough as hatchlings).

Rats: This is good for most dwarf and super-dwarfs, currently my snake is 4 years old and he has a large rat every 2 weeks which keeps him at a healthy weight.

  • Rabbits
  • Guinea Pigs
  • A Chicken (please don’t feed your snake cooked chicken & De-claw the chicken)
  • Rats
  • Mice

What you feed your snake will largely determine how fast and how big they will get; this does not mean feed the smallest meal possible.

But if you overfeed a reticulated python, they will grow much faster, also I have never seen a retic refuse food, they absolutely love their mealtime.

For this reason, always feed your snake with tongues of an appropriate size. Being bit from a hungry retic will not tickle.

I always advice every owner to never feed live animals to their pet snake, (the UK this is illegal to do so, while the US this is legal) as this causes unneeded pain for an animal that could be humanely put to sleep.

Not only this but by feeding live, you run the risk of the prey item attacking and causing serious harm to the snake too, so please don’t risk it, it’s not worth it.

Do retics have teeth?

Yes, and they are of a decent size too.

If you are bit by a reticulated python, the worst reaction is to pull the snake off you!

As much as this is the human reaction, if you do this, the snakes teeth are reclined to the back of the mouth, when you pull the snake off, you are in effect dragging them teeth right through your skin causing very serious damage.

So, in the rare case you do get bitten, take a breath if possible, the bit does not hurt as much as you would think and if you use this trick you will not need stitches or any medical attention.

First, get a second persons help to unravel the snake’s body (gently) from you. This does not allow the snake to tighten and sink its teeth deeper and pull.

Next you want to try and gently hold either side of jaw, ever so slightly squeezing and push the head further into the place of bite.

Most of the time the snake will open their mouth when they feel this and remove themselves.

If you have a stubborn snake which is not letting go, a drop of mouthwash will do the trick, they hate it.

Go over the sink, first try just putting their head under a cold running tap, then it is time to drop one or two drops of mouthwash, the snake almost always let’s go.

Keeping a Reticulated Python, what you will need!

  • Vivarium
  • Thermostat
  • Large water dish
  • Substrate or bedding
  • Heat source
  • Vivarium Lock
  • Hides & Decoration

Vivarium

Wooden vivariums are ideal for retics, they are very powerful and will lift the lid off a plastic terrarium. (this happened to me)

Now to assess which size you should get is done by taking a rough estimate of the snake’s length.

Using this size, the vivarium length + vivarium depth = the snakes total length.

It is always good practice to go slightly larger as this will give you more time to keep the cage until they outgrow it.

When young their growth can be rapid, and you will find yourself changing vivarium every month or so if you pick too small.

Should I not just get a massive vivarium straight away?

No, I would not recommend this as it can cause the snake to become uncomfortable and stressed, as a result making some snakes cage aggressive. This is not always true but can really make taming down a growing retic a more difficult process.

Important: Make sure that the cage is secure, use a vivarium lock there are plenty of them on Amazon for £5.00 Or $5.00, it will save you the massive headache of losing your snake!

Heat Source/ Thermostat Options:

Now for the next most important thing, thermostat, across the years of meeting owners of snakes, you will be astounded how many do not use a thermostat for their pet snakes.

This is an essential item and MUST not be missed or not used. The number 1 reason for snakes going to the vet is due to burns from their heat source.

If using a heat bulb, a dimming thermostat is the perfect type for this.

Heat mats go well with a mat stat, but due to not creating much of an ambient air temp is best used in warmer climates.

Water Bowl Size?

For the water bowl, it is best to provide the largest dish you can get away with, retics can swim and are excellent at it.

Now this is not compulsory, but a larger bowl will help with the humidity within the cage itself.

Also, it is worth nothing that a heavy water dish is a great idea as my retic used to tip his water bowl over every day climbing in and out.

A Last Little Bit of Information

Despite being the largest snake on the planet, don’t assume these snakes are scary or out to get you.

They can be loving creatures like any other, if you feel experienced enough and have the space, commitment and passion for the requirements for such a big snake, I promise you will not be disappointed having a pet retic.

If you are unsure if a retic is right for you, it is more than likely they are not the right pet to start with yet.

Build up your experience with a smaller snake as they can be just as rewarding. Honourable mentions are Boa Constrictors, Corn Snakes & King Snakes.