How to Care for Your Children’s Python
The Children’s python (Antaresia childreni) is a small, terrestrial, nocturnal snake found in northern Australia. They have adapted to a wide variety of habitats, but generally prefer sparsely wooded areas, rocky outcrops, or caves with roosting sites.
Children’s pythons are typically around 2-3’ long, with a slender body, smooth scales, a pear-shaped head, and vertical pupils.Coloring is typically light brown or gray with darker brown spots, although patterning can be weak to nonexistent on adults.
Children’s pythons are not named because they’re common children’s pets, but rather they are named after John George Children. That being said, these hardy little snakes are easy to care for and make beginner-level pet reptiles. With good care, they can live 20-30 years.
How much space do Children’s pythons need?
Because Children’s pythons are such a manageable size, it’s easy to keep them in an enclosure that is large enough for them to stretch out fully, explore, and exercise. The minimum for appropriately keeping one Children’s python is 36”L x 18”W x 16”H. This is just the minimum, so using larger dimensions is beneficial and will happily be used!
Young Children’s pythons are very small and flexible, so it’s of particular importance to house juveniles in an enclosure that is completely escape-proof. Make sure the lid is secure (front-opening enclosures with hinges rather than sliding doors work best), and address any gaps the size of the snake’s head or larger.
Cohabitation (keeping multiple Children’s pythons in one enclosure) is possible, but not required. If you wish to keep a group of Children’s pythons together, opt for multiple females rather than multiple males, and increase the size of the enclosure proportionally so they all have enough space.
Do Children’s pythons need UVB?
They can survive without it, but it’s still best practice to provide UVB lighting for optimal health and wellbeing. UVB gives snakes all of the vitamin D that their bodies need, stimulates better appetite and activity, and generally allows them to be healthier than they would be without.
The best UVB bulbs for Children’s pythons are:
- Zoo Med T5 HO Reptisun 5.0
- Arcadia Forest 6%
The UVB bulb should be half the length of the enclosure, housed in a reflective fixture, and placed close to the heat lamp on top of the enclosure, no closer than 6” above the basking area. UVB is blocked by glass and plastic, so you can’t give your snake UVB by placing its terrarium in front of an open window. Also make sure that the fixture your UVB bulb is in does not have a clear plastic bulb cover.
Lights should be on for 13 hours/day during summer and 11 hours/day during winter. This helps encourage more natural hormonal rhythms and better long-term health.
What basking temperatures do Children’s pythons need?
Like other reptiles, Children’s pythons are ectotherms, which means that they need a temperature gradient in their enclosure to help them regulate their metabolism and stay healthy.
Children’s pythons should have a basking temperature between 90-100°F. On the other side of the enclosure, the temperature should be between 75-80°F. Track the temperatures in your enclosure with two digital probe thermometers. Heat sources should be turned off at night.
Provide heat for your snake by imitating the sun with a halogen heat lamp placed on one side of the enclosure, positioned over a sturdy basking branch or warm hide. Do not use ceramic heat emitters (CHEs), red bulbs, or blue bulbs, as these are not as effective.
What humidity levels do Children’s pythons need?
Children’s pythons seem to do well anywhere between 20-80% humidity as long as they have a humid hideout and access to fresh drinking water. To create a humid cave/hideout/burrow for your snake, simply take a plastic or resin reptile hide and line it with moistened (not soaking wet) sphagnum moss. Replace this moss whenever it dries out.
What substrate is good for Children’s pythons?
Children’s pythons require a thick layer of substrate to cushion their bodies and help maintain healthy humidity levels. As an added perk, it also tends to make the enclosure more attractive.
We recommend the following substrates for Children’s pythons:
- Exo Terra Snake Bedding
- Zoo Med Repti Chips
- Zoo Med Repti Sand
- Exo Terra Desert Sand
Layering clean, chemical-free leaf litter on top of the substrate is a good way to provide enrichment and additional hiding options for your snake.
Substrate should be at least 2” deep and completely replaced every 3-4 months. Remove poop and urates daily, along with contaminated substrate.
What décor can you use in a Children’s python terrarium?
It’s terribly boring for a snake to be stuck in an enclosure with nothing in it except substrate, hides, and a water bowl. It doesn’t matter how big the enclosure is if you don’t put things in it for your pet to use and interact with.
At minimum, three sides of the enclosure should be covered and there should be multiple hiding places available. However, it’s a good idea to add other items such as:
What do Children’s pythons eat?
Like other snakes, Children’s pythons are carnivores, which means that they need to eat whole animal prey in order to get the nutrition that they need. Here is a basic feeding schedule based on snake age:
- Juveniles should be fed every 5-7 days.
- Adults should be fed every 7-14 days.
Prey items should be around 10% of your snake’s weight or no more than 1.5x its width. Although live prey can be used, it’s safest and most humane to use frozen instead. Prey should be thawed in a plastic bag in warm water to approximately 100°F before offering with a pair of soft-tipped tweezers.
Remember, the key to great nutrition is variety! Aside from offering young mice and rats, young hamsters, gerbils, button quail, and even feeder lizards can also be used to create nutritional variety in your snake’s diet.
Children’s pythons can survive without vitamin or mineral supplements, but occasionally using them can help prevent nutritional deficiencies and optimize your snake’s health. We recommend Repashy Calcium Plus LoD.
Your snake should have access to clean, fresh water at all times. Provide a water bowl large enough for the snake to soak its entire body if desired. Change the water daily and scrub the bowl with a reptile-safe disinfectant weekly, or whenever it becomes soiled.
Do Children’s pythons like to be handled?
Few reptiles actually “like” to be held, but Children’s pythons generally tolerate handling well. That being said, they can be pretty squirmy as babies, so it can be hard to keep them in hand! Children’s pythons are very enthusiastic about food, so they may occasionally mistake your hand for something edible. This rarely hurts, so just stay calm and they’ll eventually figure out their mistake on their own.
Be gentle, and pick up the snake from below rather than from above. Support as much of its body as possible, and NEVER pick up a snake by its tail!
*This care sheet contains only very basic information. Although it’s a good introduction, please do further research with high-quality sources to obtain additional information on caring for this species.
"File:Childrens Python (Antaresia childreni) (8692421368).jpg" by Matt from Melbourne, Australia is licensed under CC BY 2.0