3. How to keep Carpet Pythons
Now that you know better than others about these myths regarding Carpet Pythons, you decided to get yourself the best snake out there! Congratulations! But what do you need to know? We´ll look at all important things like housing, the substrate, lighting and heating. Then we will move on and talk about feeding Carpet Pythons and what kind of watering place we use.
3.1 Cages for Carpet Pythons
When we talk about cages for Carpet Pythons, you´ll need to know that the culture and the laws are very different in Germany where StarPythons has its headquarter and where we breed all these Carpet Pythons you can buy here in the USA. Keeping snakes in racks is not allowed in Germany. Well, it´s not really forbidden, but there is a law to regulate the minimum size of cages for every reptile. A Carpet Python that is 6,5 feet long will need a cage that is 0,5 x 0,5 x 0,75 times the size of its lenght. So in Germany, you need to have a cage that is 3,25 feet x 3,25 feet x 4,875 feet. All rack systems I know are way smaller than these dimensions. So you won´t see a rack here in Germany for Carpet Pythons. Is it possible to keep them in a rack? Yes it is, but I wouldn´t recommend it. A Carpet Python is semi-arboreal and they will climb if they have the chance to do so. A CB70 tub is simply to low for any adult Carpet Python to climb. Many breeders in the USA will keep Carpet Pythons in racks, and of course they will reproduce in there, but, hey, do you want a cool and active snake with attractive colors to look at, or do you want to collect stamps? I don´t judge you if you have a rack system, but instead of getting another expensive snake for your rack, maybe invest some money in a nice cage. Your Carpet Pythons will appreciate it! But lets have a look what we do here at StarPythons.
3.1.1 Keeping hatchlings
While I´m not a big fan of keeping adult Carpet Pythons in racks, it´s common to keep hatchlings in plastic bin rack systems. It´s not a good idea to put a small baby Carpet Python in a huge cage that was built for adults, because it will only feel insecure and you´ll probably have problems feeding it. We keep our baby Carpet Pythons in plastic bins that are 7,8 x 7,8 x 7,8 inches. On the bottom of each row in the rack we have a heating mat installed that operates at 86 °F. This is very important, since the Carpet Python will need a warmer place to digest its meals. You will find thermostats in every reptile supplies shop. The ambient temperature in our baby room is at 82,5 °F. Every bin is equipped with a perch. For those babys sitting on kitchen roll or newspapers you can use a small water bowl, too. Please make sure that the snake can´t tip it over, you don´t want to have the Carpet Python sitting in water all day long! If you want to use a soft wood bedding or something similar, we recommend to spray fresh water onto the inner surface of the bin daily instead of using a water bowl. The baby Carpet Pythons will move a ton of bedding into the water bowls making it useless. If your baby rack is in a room with a lot of movement and especially if you are using a bigger bin/tub for your baby Carpet Pythons, you should add an additional hideout.
3.1.2 Keeping adults
Again, you can keep Carpet Pythons in CB70 or similar racks, but I do not recommend it. Since Carpet Pythons are semi-arboreal, you and the Carpet Python will have way more fun if you give him the chance to crawl trough a nice big cage with some perches or platforms to lie on. Our cages are 4 ft x 2,3 ft x 2,3 ft and have two platforms in different levels. Each of these platforms is big enough for large Carpet Pythons to relax on it and spread with substrate. Since we have up to 120 cages for adult Carpet Pythons per room, we heat the whole room to 82 °F. Each cage has an oval, waterproof heating mat inside that is 11 x 22 inches large and 40 watt strong. Each heating mat is directly conected with the sensor of a thermostat, so that the display of the thermostat will show the actual temperature of the heating mat! Do not operate any kind of heat source without a quality thermostat! Our thermostats are set to 93 °F, so that our Carpet Pythons have a nice spot where they can soak up some heat if they want to. Each cage has two hideouts, one directly above the heating mat, the other one on the other side of the cage. Together with the two levels we provide, the Carpet Pythons will find a good temperature gradient inside the cage and they have the chance to choose the temperature they need. In the middle of each cages we have a solid water dish that can´t be tipped over. Every non-porous material is good to built a cage, just keep in mind that you should be able to clean it easily. We use white melamine-faced chipboard for our cages, so we will see any dirt really quick. Please do not use un-sealed chipboard, since the fumes from the adhesives used during production might be harmful for the Carpet Pythons. Another option are polyethylene cages. They are easy to clean like the melamine-faced-chipboard, but lightweight compared to those. If you use any kind of sealed chipboard, please make sure to use silicone in the gaps or the wood will soak!
We use a softwood granulate in all our cages. Even though Carpet Pythons will never think about the ground they are feeding on when they are in the wild, I prefer softwood. In case they bite into the substrate when they miss their prey, softwood granulate won´t harm them. I´ve seen wet rodents breaded in softwood granulate and the Carpet Pythons will eat and digest them without any problems. But that´s me and I´m always careful with my animals. I´m sure they are fine with Cypress mulch or other substrates that are widely available in pet shops. Another option is newspaper or other kinds of paper. We used newspaper for a couple of years, but a) you can´t spotclean newspaper, you´ll always have to replace the whole newspaper, b) it´s harder to see dirt on a newspaper and c) newspaper don´t soak up water or other fluids very well. Generally spoken newspaper was more labor-intensive in my opinion, and of course it looks ugly.
Here at StarPythons we use LED tubes with a light temperature of 6500 Kelvin (daylight) in all our cages and rooms. All tubes are connected to a clock timer. In the summer month the light will switch on at 8am and off at 8pm. In the winter month it will be 9am-6pm. You don´t necessarily need any UV lighting in your cages for Carpet Pythons , but it does no harm. It might enhance the colors of your snakes. We do not combine lighting with heating in our cages, since the "daylight" would switch off as soon as the programmed temperature is reached.
The correct temperatures are essential for the health of your Carpet Pythons! As I said above, you´ll need the correct ambient temperature and a heat spot to create a good temperature gradient inside your cage. If you have a separate Reptile Room, you can simply set the temperature in this room to 82 °F. Here at StarPythons we use ceiling vans to make sure to get the same temperature everywhere in the room. Otherwise the upper cages might be warmer than those on the floor. If you don´t have the chance to heat the whole room, you probably need to put more than one heat source in each cage, depending on the material used to built the cage. Thick chipboard insulates way better than glass! I´d recommend to use a heating mat on the ground on one side of the cage. This is your heat spot with a temperature of 93 °F. Imagine a line going all the way up to the ceiling from the middle of the heating mat. Now go a few inches to the center of your cage and put a ceramic heater right there. Make sure to put a lattice box around every heat bulb or ceramic heater!Otherwise the Carpet Python might burn himself severely! Try to get a thermostat with two sensors. Attach one of them to the heating mat and put the scond one in the middle of your cage, best shortly above the ground. Set this one to your desired ambient temperature of 82 °F. By doing so you´ll have a constant heat spot on one side of the cage, a correct ambient temperature and a slightly cooler area on the opposite end of the cage. The Carpet Pythons have the chance to choose the temperature they want to have! Of course there are several other ways to set up the correct temperatures, but I don´t like heat bulbs that will switch on and off to produce the correct temperature. If you provide only one heat source, the heat spot, and it has to be the heat spot, will switch off as soon as the ambient temperature is reached. Not good! If you are using a rack system, you´ll likely have a temperature gradient from the back to the front. During the night our temperatures will drop to 77 °F ambient temperature and 86 °F heat spot. Heat spot at night? Well, Carpet Pythons will sit on a warm rock in the evening/night in Australia, right? Thats our warm rock. They don´t have to use it, but they can if they want to.