Keeping Carpet Pythons

​​​​​​​​How I got started with Carpet Pythons.

When I first saw a carpet python, it was at my local pet shop. It was a jungle, or what they called a jungle, but what did I know. I was so impressed that the snake was right out in the open perching in that classic Morelia pose. Most of the snakes that I worked with until this point all seemed to try to hide away from you seeing it.
I wasn't too familiar with carpet pythons at this time. I saw them in the few books that I had on Pythons and Boas, but there wasn't a ton of information about them out there. All that being said, I had to have this snake because, for me, this was the perfect snake. Something that I could set up and observe my little piece of nature.
It was around this time that I stumbled on an article on Carpets in Reptile magazine. It was by a guy named Will Leary. There was a picture in that article of a snake named Benjamin. It was a jag carpet, and it was white! I wanted to learn more. I must admit when I first started getting into carpets, I was confused. Species, subspecies, bloodlines, localities, and morphs seemed very different than what I was used to with reptiles up to this point. Then I heard an interview on Reptile Radio with a guy named Will Bird, and this led me to where I am today. Seeing snakes like Bullwinkle or a Baylin tiger just showed me the potential of carpet pythons.
They are such awesome captives. Whether you're keeping them or breeding them, they have an endless array of colors and patterns. They don't get too big but are still big enough to be impressive. And they are fascinating to watch.
When it comes to keeping any snake in captivity, there is no 100% correct way to do it. You need to become a "student of the serpent." Have an understanding of the basics and be able to apply that to your setup in your room. 

There are many different ways to keep carpet pythons, but I hope that this will give you an overview of their husbandry and put you on the path to have success with these beautiful pythons! This is not the only way to keep carpet pythons, but this is the way that has proven successful for me in my colony. Carpet pythons are a hardy group of snakes. They display well, are good eaters, and are a manageable size. 
There is one exception to keeping carpet pythons, and that is the diamond python. Diamond pythons are kept at much colder temperatures all year long. I will address how I keep diamond pythons separate from the other carpet pythons.

​​​​​​Carpet Pythons Myths.

Myth #1 - Carpet pythons are aggressive
Carpet pythons get the wrap as being aggressive because they can be nippy as babies. I have a few thoughts on this and why that is not necessarily a bad thing from a breeder's perspective. 
Nippy babies are easier to get started feeding. In my experience, younger males that have some spunk to them tend to make better breeders. You have to remember that snakes, like people, have individual personalities. I have worked with many different species of pythons, and I have gotten bit by more ball pythons than carpet pythons. I am not saying that ball pythons are meaner than carpet pythons or that carpets are better than ball pythons but that if you decide to keep any python as a pet, the chances are that you will probably get a bite at some point. An adult carpet python is a medium-sized python, so their bite is not all that bad. It is not as serious as a bite from a large retic or a scrub.
From a keeper's perspective, most adult carpets are mellow and calm down pretty quickly.
The thing is that once they get some size on them and realize your not trying to eat them, 99.9% of carpets calm down. Carpets do have a strong feeding response, and sometimes that can be mistaken for them being aggressive. One way to avoid being bitten in a feeding response is to use a snake hook.  I simply open their tub or cage and tap them with the hook, and they snap out of their feeding response, and I reach in and grab them. When I feed them, I don't use the hook. I use hemostats, open their enclosure, offer them the prey, they grab it, I release the prey and close the enclosure and move on to the next snake.

Myth #2- Carpet pythons get big
Carpet pythons do not get as big as most people think they do. Carpets fall into that perfect size niche. They are big enough to be impressive looking, but not too big where they become difficult to work with. My Carpets average about 6.5 ft. I don't overfeed my group to them big like I see a lot of people have done in the hobby. It seems that now more than ever, people are aware of this, and you see more appropriately sized carpet pythons.

There are large carpet pythons that are found in the wild. The largest carpets are Morelia spilota mcdowelli from the southern part of their range. Most of the coastals in the captivity, outside of Australia, are from the northern range and will stay smaller than the coastals from the southern range.


Myth #3- Carpets get dull with age.
Carpet pythons are the ugly ducklings of the python world. They start as dull, gray, or red babies, but most blossom into beautiful adults, especially from top lines. Carpets are very variable, even within a single clutch. The snake below will give you an idea of how carpets change from a baby to an adult. This is one of my citrus tiger carpets. The left pic shows you her when she hatched. The pic to the right is her at ten years old.


Myth #4- Carpets need high humidity.
Carpet pythons do come from areas that experience high humidity, but it is not a requirement for them in captivity. I am in the Northeastern part of the US, and during the winter, when the heat kicks on, the air is dry and can drop the humidity in my snake room. I have/do supplement the humidity in my snake room with a small humidifier. I do this when it gets dry. Like if it drops below twenty percent. I don't think that this is necessary to keep carpets healthy and thriving, but it makes me feel better. I do not spray them. When I was in Cairns, the humidity was around seventy percent, where I found jungle carpets. It was also only around seventy degrees at night.  With all that said, I have kept carpets in all types of situations, and I have had maybe two bad sheds. If you keep them in the proper enclosure, you won't have to worry about humidity to keep your carpet happy and healthy.

Another quick tip is you could use a humidity hide in the cage. You can give the snake the option to chose whether the humidity is what the snake desires. It never hurts to provide the snake with the opportunity to determine what it wants.


There are two major rules you should follow before you buy a Carpet
Rule #1- "Become a Student of the Serpent."
Eugene Bassett told me this, and it struck a chord with me.  It means paying attention to your snake in your snake room. The snake and it will tell you what it needs. 
This is why I say there is not just one way to keep carpet pythons in captivity. An example might be that if you see your snake trying to escape from the heat, then maybe the snake is too hot. The more time you spend in your snake room, the better you will become at reading the cues that your snake is
giving you.

Rule #2- Buy quality stock from a reliable breeder.
I see this all the time. Someone gets a carpet from someone at a reptile show, and the seller doesn't know anything about it or its lineage. The seller puts a label on it, but there is no way to know that it is what they are claiming it to be. The problem comes down the line if you plan on breeding them. If you want to breed, then you want to know what you are selling to your customer. You want to be able to accurately represent what you have.
Do you have a coastal, or maybe its a jungle, or perhaps some type of cross? There is no way to know for sure unless you know the lineage, and even then, it can be challenging to know what you have. It can make it difficult to sell offspring that you're unsure of the lineage.  
If you just want a pet, then lineage and purity don't matter as much as if you like the way the snake looks. The other thing is that if you buy from a breeder you will have the ability to contact the breeder if you run into any questions or concerns.