Which Pythons Make The Best Pets?

The first step to owning a python as a pet, is to ensure that you are buying them for the right reasons. Pythons as part of the snake world can be good pets, but not bought just for aesthetic reasons, and certainly not used as a showstopper for visitors to your home (yes, it does happen). Pythons need care and attention, not just left in their vivarium for all to see.

The second step is to provide above adequate accommodation for them, enough space and a well-prepared habitat for them in as familiar surroundings for their breed as possible. The correct diet is also essential to keep them healthy.

A vast majority of people who want to keep snakes will tend to go for a smaller breed, such as the corn snake, for their first venture into having a snake and to get used to looking after these fascinating creatures. However, in the popularity stakes, there has been an increasing trend in python ownership, with certain breeds being better than others to have as pets.

Some pythons can grow up to 25 feet in length (such as the Reticulated Python or the Burmese Python), so this is obviously not a good choice of pet for anyone living in small accommodation! Pythons of the reticulated breed may also inflict nasty bites, as well as being much harder to satisfy their dietary needs. They are also incredibly ‘heavy’, as their weight can reach up to 100kg or more.

Before buying a python as a pet, please do your homework and research the breed you are purchasing, otherwise it will not be fair on either you or the snake.

The expert’s choice – the Ball Python (once known as the Royal Python)

When talking to experts, the undivided opinion is that the Ball Python makes an excellent pet for both beginners as well as the more experienced owners. When buying a ball python, make sure that you buy from a recognised breeder, who will undoubtedly impart the best possible advice in caring for your snake, their characteristics, health implications, diet etc. Soak up their knowledge – any respectable breeder or owner will always be available to help you through problems once you take your pet home.

Whilst ball pythons are available in pet shops, purchasing from a breeder for the domestic market is a much better idea. They will have had close contact and a knowledge of the ball python, which is invaluable. Reputable breeders will be more than happy to speak to you after your purchase to ensure that your python and you are happy with the arrangements. Pet shops rarely have this in-depth knowledge. Some if the best reasons for choosing a ball python are:

  • They are gentle and affectionate pets that are unlikely to bite. In fact, they are more likely to fear you, than you are to fear them. If frightened, they will simply curl up into a ball, which is why they have the breed name. They enjoy being handled and caressed, and in some cases, likely to fall asleep cuddled around you! If raised domestically by the breeder, they will have been used to being handled from the hatchling stage.
  • Size – these are one of the more manageable sized pythons, growing to an average of 1.2 metres long. Their weight is also not a problem, with an average of 2kg, although some can weigh less and others more. Females tend to weigh more than males, however.
  • Unless your pet ball python contracts a disease, their longevity is assured, with a lifespan of between 20 and 30 years – so no early tears if you keep them in the correct accommodation, suitable food and medical attention.
  • Easier on the pocket – whilst this shouldn’t be a consideration, it’s good to know that ball pythons are far more economical than other python breeds.

Pythons to potentially avoid as pets

Some pythons should be avoided for domestic pet-keeping, due either to size, characteristics or expense. It’s all very well admiring some of the big beasts of the jungle, but it’s a whole different ball game when kept in captivity – some are simply not used to it and no amount of care and attention will change that. Never consider pythons that are imported from overseas that have not been bred domestically – they just are not suitable, can carry diseases, have eating problems, parasites and will then potentially be unable to cope with captivity.

You also need to consider your experience in keeping reptiles. If you are a beginner, only consider a snake that is easy to handle and to keep. In this instance, neither Burmese or Reticulated Pythons should be in your mind. Their size, weight and tendency to bite also create problems, as well as the ability to house them correctly. These larger constrictors can move very quickly and can be extremely strong, causing you an unpleasant and potentially dangerous experience. It is not easy to understand what causes adverse reactions, but certainly response to food can be one of them if triggered.

It is also important to note that some type of Pythons (Royal and Indian Pythons) are covered by CITES regulations, therefore if you are looking to buy one of these two types of Python, the seller must be in possession of the relevant Article 10 certificate from Defra and pass on a copy of this certificate to the buyer.

If your heart is set on owning a python (for the right reasons), just take time to carefully consider the undertaking, and use a reputable breeder. You never know the origin of those purchased in pet shops, even if you think they are giving you the right information at the time.

Treat your pet python with respect, as even the most docile one can attack when least expected.


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