Saturday, May 7, 2011

Diamond Pythons and Care Breeders Carpet Python

Diamond Pythons
 
Diamond pythons are native to southeastern Australia. The overall temperatures are cooler in this region compared to the places other carpets inhabit. At certain times of the year temperatures dip below freezing, which is likely the reason diamonds have an overall darker coloration and are more diurnal than other carpets. They are quite average in size, attaining lengths between 6 and 7 feet. They are nearly solid black, with a conspicuous yellow or white spot in the center of each scale, which forms an intricate design. Interspersed along the back are clusters of white or yellow scales (typically between four to six scales in a group) that form “rosettes,” giving the diamond python its name.

Unlike other carpet pythons, male diamonds do not combat with other males as part of the ritual courtship. In fact, multiple males have been found attempting to breed with a single female. Another unique characteristic of diamond pythons is the propensity of females to construct primitive nests where they deposit their eggs. Carpet python eggs hatch approximately 50 to 58 days after they are laid. These newborns are jungle carpets.

Diamond Pythons
Python Enclosures

Housing your carpet python is a very important consideration, so be sure to take time to carefully examine your options. There are many enclosure variations to choose from. We highly recommend selecting from one of the numerous online businesses that offer well-constructed plastic cages made specifically for housing reptiles. This decreases chances of escapes or injuries to your animal. These cages are easier to clean than other enclosures might be (making the cage a more sterile environment), they are also lightweight and most are stackable. With the door located at the front rather than
the top, the cage retains heat and humidity more efficiently. Plastic cages also allow snakes to feel more secure, because four of the five exposed sides are opaque. Best of all, these cages are quite affordable.

We house our adult male carpets in custom plastic cages that are 3 feet long by 2 feet wide by 18 inches tall, and our adult female carpets in cages measuring 4 feet long by 2 feet wide by 18 inches tall. If you have the available space, most will do just as well in slightly taller cages. Remember too that larger cages are harder to heat. These jungle hatchlings will accept fuzzy mice or pinkie rats.
Carpet pythons are semiarboreal and will benefit from a few sturdy branches mounted inside their enclosures. They will take advantage of any extra height given. No, it’s not always essential, but it does allow snakes more space to stretch, exercise and perch above the floor of the cage.

This may help them to feel more comfortable and reduce stress. We’ve observed that certain carpets are more inclined to climb than others (not only between the different subspecies, but also between
individuals within the same subspecies). Be sensitive to the needs of individual snakes. It should also be noted that some carpets might be more inclined to feed from a perched position.

Cage Setup Carpet Python

The first thing most people want to do when they get a new snake is to set the cage up like a tropical rain forest, attempting to recreate the snake’s natural environment. In our experience, simpler is better. Vivarium-type enclosures tend to make cleaning more difficult, and the snake typically ends up knocking over plants and other decor. We use newspaper, or corrugated, thick, brown paper as a substrate. It doesn’t look very much like the “natural” habitat that you may have envisioned, but it’s a time-tested method that works well. These types of substrate are readily available and inexpensive to
replace. Pine shavings and other wood chips are commonly used with success, but ingesting this substrate could cause complications for the animal. It also encourages spot cleaning (which we discourage) and provides a potential breeding ground for mites.

Because carpets spend much of their time hiding in the wild, it’s a good idea to make sure that captives feel secure. Hideboxes provide the snake with a sense of security and should be just large enough for the snake to fit inside. Your carpet will want its body touching the hidebox on all sides. Hideboxes can be made from ordinary household objects, such as cups or cat litter pans. If made of materials like plastic or porcelain, they are easy to clean. The cage should be set up so that the snake can find a comfortable temperature.

The carpet python may have many different temperature needs within the same day, depending on slight variations in the ambient temperature, etc. There should be a cool side and a warm side in their enclosures. With a hot and a cool side, the snakes can decide how warm or cool they want to be within a standard gradient. Coastals, jungles and Irian Jayas seem to do well with a temperaturegradient of 80 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

Diamond Pythons


Cagemates Carpet Python

Housing more than one carpet Python per cage is not recommended, unless you are trying to breed them. When carpets are housed together, typically one subtly takes a dominant position, while the other assumes a more submissive role. After a short time, the submissive snake commonly stops feeding due to elevated stress levels and can become sick, while the dominant snake occupies the choice spots in the cage and continues to feed. It is also easier to keep accurate records of individual animals when they are housed separately.

Male carpets python are aggressive combatants during breeding season (similar to that of male rattlesnake “dances”). Mature males engage in combat for a female that is ready to breed. The two carpets raise themselves upward while intertwining. Each intermittently “jolts” and tries to pin the other’s head to the ground. It has been demonstrated in other boids that the winner of the wrestling match will produce large quantities of testosterone. As a result, the winner will have a stronger urge to breed and produce increased amounts of sperm, while the opposite is true for the loser.

Placing two adult males in one cage can be a dangerous mistake, especially if there is a female within close proximity that is emitting pheromones signaling to the males that she is ready to breed. If the snakes start to combat within a confined space, the vanquished male has nowhere to flee. As a result, the victorious male can inflict serious, or even fatal, wounds to the other snake through biting and constriction.

Temperament Carpet Python

Hatchling and juvenile carpets can be nippy, but their bites are fairly inconsequential. Most eventually grow out of this behavior and calm down as they mature. Although adults are typically docile, they should be handled with respect. If startled or handled carelessly, adult carpets can deliver a substantial bite with their large, curved teeth. If you start off with a juvenile and take the time to observe its habits, in time, you will start to discern some of its body language to know when it is relaxed, agitated or expecting food.

Feeding Time Carpet Python

Feeding carpets is very much like feeding any other python. Typically, carpets can be fed once every five to seven days. They can accept food items approximately one-third larger than the diameter of the thickest portion of their body. Hatchlings prefer fuzzy mice or newly born pinkie rats. Juveniles quickly accept adult mice or small rats, and adults take medium- to jumbo-sized rats, depending on the snake’s size. Chicken is also a food item that may be tried, though we currently don’t offer it to any of our stock.

Breeding Carpets Python

Breeding carpets (excluding diamonds and centralians) is pretty straightforward. There are many methods that have worked successfully for lots of different carpet breeders. The following method has consistently worked well for us. Our female carpets are fed generously during the summer months. The goal is to keep them robust without making them obese. Overweight females don’t make good breeders. Our females are fed approximately every one to two weeks, while our males are fed every two to three weeks to keep them on the leaner side.

Heavy males tend to have a poor libido. In early October we let the room get slightly cooler and wait for one of the males to refuse food. This is our trigger to stop feeding both the males and the females that we plan to breed. We allow about one month for their digestive systems to empty out and then proceed to further cool the snakes. By the end of October, we start to steadily drop the nighttime temperatures down to about 65 degrees, while the daytime temperatures are kept between 75 and 80 degrees. In late November or early December, we start to slowly increase temperatures back to normal, and by December we start introducing the males to the females.

Courtship and copulation is normally observed within the first few days of introduction. We leave males in with females for approximately a week at a time and then separate them for about three days. This allows both males and females a resting period. After the three days we reintroduce the males to the females and start the process all over again. During this time the pairs copulate multiple times, though some pairs are more likely to breed with some seclusion.

Ovulation is normally observed in mid- to late January and is quite noticeable. Females swell up in the midsection for a period of one or two days and bask regularly until they deposit their eggs. Approximately 18 to 20 days after ovulation, females have their prelay shed. Oviposition occurs 19 to 25 days after that. Clutch sizes differ between species. Irian Jayas are reasonably small compared to other carpets, and lay between six and 15 eggs per clutch. Jungles, being a bit larger, lay between 10 and 20 per clutch. And coastals, being the largest, lay between 15 and 30 per clutch. We had a coastal last year that dropped 39 eggs, 35 of which hatched. The amount of eggs a female is capable of laying can depend greatly upon her size, weight and health. The environmental conditions she is exposed to can also be a factor. Carpets reproduce once per year.

Incubation

Once the female has finished laying her eggs, we gently remove her from the clutch (use caution, females can be protective of their eggs!) and place the eggs in a container with a lid and some small holes for ventilation. The clutch can be separated, if it is done very carefully), or they can be left intact. The egg container is set up with two layers of egg crate and filled almost to the top of the egg crate with wet perlite. The egg crate should sit above the perlite so that the eggs do not get wet. The egg container is then placed in the incubator. This is known as the “no substrate” method of incubation. Our incubation temperatures average between 88.5 and 89.5 degrees. The eggs normally hatch between 50 and 58 days later.

Conclusion
 
We have had the privilege to work with many snakes pythons, boas, colubrids, domestic and exotic. But in our opinion, none have surpassed the majesty of the spectacular carpet python. We hope that you will have a new or rekindled love for a true gem of the ophidian kingdom. Carpet Morphs Several new carpet python morphs have emerged over the past few years, predominantly in Europe. Recently many of them have started making their way into U.S. collections. More work is needed to understand exactly how the jaguar trait works. This is a red hypo jaguar.

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