Carpet Python Care Sheet
Common Name: Carpet Python
Scientific Name: Morelia spilota sp.
Sub-species: Jungle (Morelia spilota cheynei), Irian Jaya (Morelia spilota harrisoni), Coastal (Morelia spilota mcdowelli), Centralian (Morelia bredli), Inland (Morelia spilota metcalfei), Northwestern (Morelia spilota variegata), Southwestern (Morelia spilota imbricata)
Carpet Pythons are semi-arboreal in nature and have a slender appearance. Colours vary according to their local of origin with Jungles typically exhibiting black with white, yellow or tan stripes and markings, Coastals brown with tan/yellow stripes and markings and Irian Jayas predominantly brown with tan bands and markings.
Bredli's are usually red or burgundy in colour with off-white markings and Diamond's are black with small white or yellow flecks that appear to form stripes.
Distribution: Depending on the subspecies, these snakes originate in New Guinea and Australia.
Habitat: Woodlands, rainforests
Lifespan: 25+ years in captivity
Temperament: Usually snappy as babies, but calm down after about a year to 18 months.
Hatchlings are 30cm on average
Irian Jayas: 1.2m – 1.8m, although bigger specimens have been recorded
Jungles: 1.2m – 1.8m, larger specimens are known
Coastal: 1.8m – 2.7m, can reach 3.5m
Bredli: 1.2m – 1.8m, larger specimens have been recorded
Carpets make great and easy captives and are one of the easiest and least demanding species of snakes to care for. They are low maintenance and have good personalities, not to mention they are beautiful and most subspecies are a manageable size for anyone. They offer the keeper a lot of choices in terms of size, colour and pattern, so they're becoming more and more popular all the time and are also amazing display snakes that love to sit out if a perch is provided.
Hatchlings are generally started on fuzzy/hopper mice, but it is advisable that they be switched to rat pups as soon as they are able to take them. At times it can be quite difficult to switch Carpet Pythons over to rats once they have become accustomed to eating mice but with persistence this is generally possible. Once in "feeding mode" a snake rarely refuses your offer and soaking a rat in warm chicken broth can help to tempt fussy feeders. Adult carpets may eat more than one large rat in a feeding.
You can use many styles of housing, including but not limited to: Tubs, racks, plastic cages, aquariums, etc. An adult carpet requires a cage size of at least 90cmx45cmx60cm. These snakes appreciate perches and will usually make use of them creating a great "display" for your room but these aren't 100% necessary. Should you decide to provide a perch, use a stable log/tree branch that cannot fall over easily and if you intent to fix it higher in the cage, do so with caution and test the weight it can handle before introducing your snake into the enclosure as falling objects may injure the animal.
Substrate can include a variety of mediums including but not limited to newspaper/cardboard, astro turf, aspen or pine shavings.
When keeping any reptile, a thermal gradient is essential for optimal health and functioning. Carpet Pythons require a basking spot of 30-32°C and an ambient temperature of approximately 25°C (this should not be allowed to fall below 23°C).
While Carpet Pythons do not require full spectrum or UV lighting, a light can be useful for display purposes as well as to imitate day and night for the snakes. A standard fluorescent bulb is suitable for these purposes.
Carpet Pythons reach sexual maturity between 18 months and 4 years of age. As a guideline, the breeding weight for females should be: Irian Jayas 1000g+, Jungles 1500g, Coastals 2000g, Bredli's 1500g. Breeding season is from November to March but cooling during winter is essential.
Both animals should be in excellent condition before any breeding is attempted. A reduced photoperiod of 8-10 hours may induce breeding and misting the snake may also help. The female can be introduced to the male or vice versa.
Clutch size can range from 10-40 eggs depending on the size of the female. Generally the female will curl herself around the eggs in order to incubate them herself but it is advisable to remove the eggs (careful they are usually very aggressive and protective over them) and place them in an incubator. Incubation temperatures should be kept constant at 31-32oC and at this temperature eggs will usually hatch in approximately 55-60 days.
Once the babies hatch and have moved completely out of their eggs they should be removed from the incubator, rinsed and placed in a tub either individually or communally with slightly damp newspaper or paper toweling, a water dish and hide or perch. As hatchlings, the easiest and most advisable method of ascertaining gender is to pop sex them.