Care sheet

 Morelia amethistina

Facts about housing & breeding

Heating & Lighting

In the smallest size enclosure, I provide heat using a heat mat controlled by thermostat. When moved into their second enclosure I still use a heat mat, again controlled by the same thermostat and provide a low level UV light source. Once they are moved into their adult sized enclosure, the same level of UV lighting is recommended but with a longer length bulb. Heat can still be provided by a heat mat that fits the size of the larger enclosure. Enclosure temperatures range from 85-90°f in the warm side, to room temperatures of around 75-80°f in the cool end of the enclosure and at night time over the summer, and as low as 70°f in the winter. The temperature at the basking spot ranges from 90-95°f.

Diet

In the wild the diet of the Scrub Python is made up mostly of small mammals, birds, bats and even lizards when juvenile, and almost exclusively larger mammals when fully grown. Being a constrictor, all pythons kill their prey by constriction and do not possess venom. The Scrub Python is considered one of the top predators in its environment, and it is capable of taking prey as large as a wallaby or large deer. However, in captivity these snakes can be fed on rodents their entire lives. Hatchlings should be started on mouse fluffs until they are feeding, and can then quickly be moved up onto rat pups or fluffs. At this time we feed our Scrub Pythons once a week. As the snake continues to grow, the size of its prey should grow with it. I move them onto rat weaners next, then to small adult rats and then large rats. By the time they are 2-3 years old, an Amethystine Python should be big enough to eat a large rat or even a small rabbit once a fortnight. As they continue to grow, they can be moved onto monthly or even bimonthly feeds on large prey.

Breeding

The Scrub Python is relatively easy to breed provided both male and females are large enough and form a compatible pair. Depending on locality and size, males will generally reach sexual maturity at about 3-5 years of age. As females get larger, they usually take a little longer to mature as well and will often not reach sexual maturity until 4-5 years old. It is however important to ensure that as well being old enough, both the male and especially the female are big enough to breed. This will always depend on individuals, but generally a female should be at least 7-8ft long. A larger snake will usually produce both a larger quantity of eggs and a better quality clutch, with larger more healthy eggs.

 The snakes should be kept separate over the winter, and in this time the background temperature in the enclosure should be allowed to drop to room temperature, even as low as 70°f. However, it is still essential that you provide a warmer basking area as well. In this cooling period, the snakes will not usually eat and should not be offered food. You only need to cool them down for two or three months, and in this time the photoperiod should be reduced as well. We reduce our photoperiod from 14 hours to just 12 hours. Once the winter is out of the way, you can slowly return the temperature and the light cycle to what it was before. Upon raising your temperatures, a male Amethystine Python should be introduced to one or more females a few times a week until ovulation occurs.

 Gravid females will develop their eggs for roughly two months, during which time they probably will not eat. When they lay the clutch they will coil around it defensively, and you can either attempt to let the female incubate the eggs naturally or remove them. If letting the female incubate the eggs, she will continue to fast until the eggs hatch. I remove the eggs once they are laid and incubate them artificially, in which case the females will usually begin feeding again within a week. Clutches can number from 5 to 20 eggs, and care should be taken not to turn them when moving them to the incubator.

 I keep my incubator at 87.5°f but success has been recorded from 86°f right up to 90°f. Eggs should be incubated in large, sealed tubs within the incubator with no more than a couple of tiny 4-5mm air holes for ventilation. The egg tubs should be filled two thirds of the way up with an incubation medium such as perlite, vermiculite or Lucky Reptile Hatchrite. In the case of perlite and vermiculite mix it with water at a ratio of around 1:1 by weight (Hatchrite is premixed). Water should not be added at any point after incubation begins. I open all my egg tubs around once a week for a couple of minutes at a time to allow fresh air exchange and check on their progress. If the eggs are fertile and incubation conditions are good, eggs will hatch after around 77-88 days.

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