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Halmahera Scrub Python, Morelia tracyae


scrub python

Introduction Scrub Pythons have a native range of Australia's rain forests and it's surrounding islands. They are a relatively long snake, reaching an average between 12-16 feet. However, the record for this species is 28 feet. They are at home in the trees or on the ground. They tend to be reclusive and shy. When they are encountered, it is often times along a river, or while they are basking during the cooler months. Wild Scrubs have an aggressive reputation. Primarily nocturnal, they prey exclusively on warm blooded prey. Their thermo sensitive pits are numerous and large. Their eyes are large as well. These two features make them very efficient night time hunters.

Acclimation and Quarantine Halmahera Scrub Pythons normally take to captivity pretty easy.First, be sure to address any potential parasite load. Wild caught snakes should be treated for parasites as soon as possible after purchase.

Fresh imports may also be dehydrated. Place the snake in a deli cup or bucket filled to about one inch with lukewarm water. This method is very effective as the snakes will often drink while they soak.

Quarantine and acclimation enclosures need not be elaborate, instead they should be sterile and easy to clean. Plastic storage bins are often used for such enclosures as they are easy to clean, come in a variety of sizes, and most provide the security needed for a freshly imported snake. Paper towels, newspapers, or other easily cleaned materials may be used as the substrate. A hide box will provide additional security. A ceramic water dish should be used as the water bowl as these are strong and heavy bodied snakes and are likely to tip over anything plastic.

This setup should be used until the snake is feeding regularly and appears to be in good health.

Housing Once the snake is acclimated and feeding well it may be put into a permanent cage. They require enclosures relative to their body size. You don't want to put a 12 inch snake in a 6 ft cage, it would simply get lost. Neonates and juveniles can be kept in 10 - 75 gal. tanks. These snakes are semi arboreal and you should be sure to be able to provide branches for climbing. A cage that is about 4 ft x 6 ft is a minimum size for an adult, but larger enclosures are usually better. Glass enclosures can be used, but are not the best choice for this species. To ensure that the snake is secure, a cage with at least five opaque sides is recommended. Wooden cages are a better alternative than glass cages because of the heightened security. By far, the best cages for this species are those made of polyethylene or controlled density PVC. These cages usually have only one transparent side and can also withstand the high humidity associated with the habitat. Such cages are also usually inexpensive and attractive. Furnishing the enclosure is of personal preference. Branches can be used in the furnishing of the enclosure, and will be used and perched upon regularly. Hide boxes should also be placed on each end of the cage to provide the snake with a sense of security as they thermoregulate. Foliage can be added to the cage to provide the snake with more places to hide. For substrate, soil, mulch, ground coconut, and sphagnum moss are all acceptable as these will help to retain the proper humidity levels the snake needs.

Lighting and Heating There should be a thermal gradient in the cage so that the snake may choose the area of the cage where it is most comfortable. The warmest extreme of the cage should be between 87-95 degrees Fahrenheit, while the cooler side of the cage should be between 75-80 degrees Fahrenheit. It is extremely important that the snake is provided with this thermal gradient so they can escape the heat. At night there should be a slight drop in temperature, preferably of about ten degrees.

Heat pads, cable, tape and basking lights are all great ways to provide heat.

Feeding Feeding is straight forward. Rodents of an appropriate size should make up most of the diet. Scrub pythons also relish small chicks and quail and can be offered periodically. The size of the prey item should be relative to that of the snake you are feeding. For hatchlings a fuzzy/hopper or two once or twice a week is a good regimen. For juveniles and sub adults 1 or 2 mice/sm. rats per week. For an adult Scrub you will need to feed it Lg. or jumbo rats, guinea pigs or rabbits. At this age the animal can be fed every other week. We recommend feeding be done in an enclosure other than what the snake lives in. By doing this you reduce the likely hood of an aggressive feeding response when you open it's cage. The feeding container can be bear bottom to ensure that the snake only swallows it's food and not any bedding which can lead to a mouth infection or an impaction in the stomach. Wild caught snakes acclimate to captivity and will start feeding with little effort on behalf of the keeper. With that said, there are always exceptions. If you happen to get an exception you can try the following to get it to feed. To entice a reluctant animal to feed I recommend placing the animal in a restricted container of appropriate size in order to keep the food and it's scent in close proximity to the snake and leave it alone for about 24 hours. As mentioned above, chicks and quail are relished by these snakes and if your specimen refuses to feed on rodent prey, perhaps you should change the menu. Tease feeding is effective as well. Scrub pythons are normally easy to tease feed as they have a short temper and seem to enjoy evoking fear in the eyes of the beholder. With a pair of long tongs or forceps, grasp a prey item and simply irritate the snake with it causing it to strike and bite the food. Most of the time when the snake bites the food, a feeding instinct takes over and the snake will hopefully decide to eat what it has just bit. If this does not work you can also try a more grisly method in which the skull cap of a frozen thawed prey item is cut open exposing the brain matter and juices. This works with surprising results and most problem feeders cannot resist the smell of brains.

Water A dish of fresh water should always be available. Scrubs will drink from a dish with little problems. They enjoy soaking in their water dishes especially after a meal. They will frequently defecate in it as well. Misting or spraying the enclosure once or twice a day will provide clean droplets of water for drinking and will also raise the humidity.

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