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Should I Get a Burmese Python as a Pet?

Burmese Python care necessitates a lot of planning, education, and supervision. Today, our Ocala veterinarians offer advice on what to think about before getting a pet Python.

Facts about Burmese Pythons

Burmese pythons are native to Southeast Asia's jungles and grassy marshes, with a large population in the Florida Everglades. They are one of the top five largest snakes in the world, with a maximum length of 23 feet and a weight of 200 pounds. A python's average length is 12 feet.

Pythons are magnificent reptiles with distinctive dark brown patches and two horizontal lines running across their heads. They are non-venomous, but they can take down large animals such as alligators and deer.

They are known for being solitary and docile creatures. They spend much of their time in the trees when they are young, but as they grow larger and the trees can no longer support their weight, they move to the ground. They spend much of their time submerged in shallow water, waiting for prey, and they can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes before surfacing for air.

Do Burmese Pythons make good pets? 

Having a pet of any kind is a big responsibility. However, owning a potentially dangerous animal requires extensive planning, education, and supervision. 

Burmese Pythons require a lot of care and maintenance and are expensive to feed and keep. In general, pythons are best left in the wild. 

Are Burmese pythons dangerous? 

Whether you want a yellow or albino Burmese Python as a pet, they are dangerous due to their immense size and their feeding tendencies. When feeding they kill their prey by constriction, coiling their bodies around the animal and squeezing until it suffocates. 

Attacks on handlers are not uncommon and can be deadly. Although, pythons will rarely attack people without first being provoked.

If you plan to keep one as a pet, it is recommended that you handle these snakes from a young age and hold them frequently to become familiar with them. They are aggressive feeders, and if you only handle the snake to open its enclosure when it is time to eat, your snake may associate you with food. When they reach adult size, about 8 feet, always have a second person present when handling or feeding them.

What does a Burmese python eat?

Burmese pythons are carnivores that eat small mammals and birds as their primary food. Mice or rats should be fed to growing hatchling pythons one to two times per week. Adult pythons are fed less frequently, every two weeks, with larger, snake-wide prey. Because of the stretchy ligaments in their jaws, they can swallow animals up to five times the size of their head.

Pythons have poor eyesight, so they use chemical receptors in their tongues and heat sensors along their jaws to stalk their prey. They seize the prey with their sharp teeth, then coil the animal's body around it, constricting with each exhale until the animal suffocates.

How long do Burmese pythons live? 

A python's average lifespan in the wild is 20 to 25 years. When deciding whether or not to get a python as a pet, keep this in mind. If you are no longer able to care for a large snake, especially a fully grown python, finding someone to take it is difficult.

Common Health Problems? 

Respiratory infections and mouth rot are common in Burmese pythons. Inclusion body disease, a fatal virus that causes abnormal shedding, anorexia, constipation, tremors, and loss of motor control in pythons, is one of their most serious illnesses. Many snakes infected with this disease will die of starvation.

It is essential to have an exotics veterinarian who specializes in reptiles check your Burmese python annually for signs of disease.

Do you have a Burmese Python in need of veterinary care? Contact our Ocala vets for more information. 

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