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Python molarus has three subspeices, the Burmese python Python molurus bivittatus, the Indian python Python molurus molurus and the Ceylon python Python molurus pimbura. Sometimes known as the Indian rock python or Burmese rock python, this species of large, heavy bodied snake can be found throughout most of India, parts of Southeast Asia and in Southern China. The Burmese sub-species (burm) is very common is captivity. They are hardy snakes that breed readily, and may lay up to 100 eggs at a time. Captive bred burms are readily available in a variety of colors and patterns.
Burms may live up to 30 years in captivity. Females are larger than males and may exceed 20 feet in length and could weigh well in excess of 200 pounds. An average male is around 12' long and 100 lbs. This a large, heavy bodied snake, capable of killing an adult human during a "stupid feeding error" or by accident. Burmese pythons use both sight and smell to locate food. When they smell food they will strike at anything that moves. Live prey can injure the snake, so it is best to feed pre-killed food, therefore you may be the only thing that moves. Always exercise caution when feeding a burmese python and do not allow one to wrap around your neck under any circumstances.
Burmese pythons do best with a temperature gradient of 80 - 90 F. A comfortable place to sleep should be provided at both ends of the temperature gradient. I tend to keep a smaller container of fresh water at the cooler end, while keeping a larger tub of water at the warmer end to help raise the overall humidity. A snake may choose the security of a nice tight hidebox over the appropriate temperature, so the cage furniture must allow a feeling of security at both ends of the temperature gradient, allowing the snake to themoregulate properly.
Burms will climb if there is something solid to climb on. They will soak or swim if a large enough water tub is provided. They will benefit from occasional misting, especially during the shed cycle.
In the wild burmese pythons eat a variety of foods, including rodents, fowl, pigs, antelope, etc. In captivity neonate burmese pythons will eat fuzzy or hopper mice. They should grow quickly and the size of their food will progress equally rapidly, from mice to rats to rabbits. At some point they will be eating very large rabbits, full grown chickens or piglets. Live food may make Burmese Pythons more aggressive. Live prey may fight back and injure the snake. Prekilled food is better, and more humane for both prey and snake. Also freezing to 0 F will kill many internal parasites that might be passed from prey to snake. Most burms will readily take frozen/thawed food.
In loving memory: Daemon 1985 to 2003
Daemon (pronouced de-mon) - definition: the snake who lives in the back room and controls my life.
Daemon was 24 inches long when I got him. He was purchased from a pet shop in Salt Lake City, Utah, July 1985 as a hatchling, probably captive bred in California. (Pers. comm. Louis Porras). The picture on the left was taken in August 1985 when he grown to 26 inches. Daemon and I took up dancing (see right), until he got too heavy. He also traveled quite a bit in his younger years, and has spent some time in over 7 states, from California to New Jersey, though most of his life was spent in Utah and Colorado. He spent the last 8 years of his life almost entirely in the back bedroom of my condo in urban Colorado; with occasional forays around the rest of the upstairs.
Daemon's room, roughly 11' long x 8' wide x 8' high, was equipped with an 8 foot Neodesha cage with 7 feet of 11 inch wide heat tape glued to the underside and controlled with a thermostat. In the winter a space heater kept the temperature up and a humidifier kept the humidity up. He had a large pig blanket on the floor, next to the registers for the main gas-hot water heating system, for an extra warm sleeping area. In the summer a swamp cooler was used to cool and humidify the room. Daemon was locked in his cage for feeding, shedding and on hot summer nights when windows and doors needing to be open for cooling. Most of the time the cage doors were open and the room's windows and door closed and locked.
On the left, Daemon in 2001. By this time Daemon was eating chickens, old hens mostly that I got from an egg farmer. Then he declined his August chicken and didn't eat again for twenty-two months. During the summer of 2003 he ate a dozen or two rats. To the right, Daemon shortly before his death in October 2003, on one of his forays into the next room.
None of the veterinarians that saw him had any ideas of why he didn't eat, or how to help. Treating a large snake is difficult and takes more snake wranglers than I had available in any case. When he was younger and healthier, he easily thrashed away from five people, musked the vet's office from floor to ceiling and punched the vet in the chest. Later on, when force feeding might have been an option it was felt that he might break his own ribs or otherwise hurt himself during any attempt to restrain and treat him.
Have you seen Daemon? Daemon did some educational work here and there, serving as an example of a very large snake for kids of all ages. Around late 1994 or early 1995 we went on a short educational tour with Jim Fowler, of Wild Kingdom fame, along with a wolf, a young mountain lion, several raptors and lots and lots of handlers. One afternoon was spent doing pledge breaks at the KRMA public TV studio in Denver, Colorado and a clip of Daemon hindering an announcer during a pledge break was aired on Dick Clark's Animal Bloopers on November 27, 1995.