Each of the young was placed in a 12
inch aquarium. The substrate was washed +8 aquarium gravel, a small drinking
bowl and small hide container were the only furnishings. A wooden lid with
a plastic 4" x 2" vent enclosed the tank. All sides, apart from
the front were painted so as to give some sense of security. Heating was
by natural room heating, i.e. loss of and build up of heat from other cages.
Temperature ranged from 27deg C to 32 deg C. They were offered their first
feed immediately after their first shedding (12 - 13 days).
#1. refused food it was offered on
the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th day after shedding. Food offered was small mice
up to 7gms and 'pinky' rats. On the 13th day after shedding (26 days after
birth) this snake ate two small mice 5 -7 gms. It became a regular feeder
from this point.
#2. refused food it was offered on
the 1st, 2nd and 4th day after shedding, but accepted a feed of three mice
on the 8th day after shedding (21 days after birth). It was somewhat of
a reluctant feeder over the next month, accepting some feeds but refusing
most, but after this period settled down in its feeding habits. Food accepted
#3. refused food it was offered on
the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 8th, 13th, 18th and 21st days after shedding. Food offered
was in the form of small mice only. On the 22nd day it was 'force fed
one small mouse. Once again it refused food offered on the 25th, 28th,
29th, 35th day after shedding and on the 36th day was 'force fed three
small mice just under 10 grams in total weight. From this period on it
ate voluntarily but was a little inconsistent over the next few months.
#4. was a 'pain in the butt'. It refused
food offered, both in the form of small mice and pinky rats, over a considerable
period and was 'force fed' many times before accepting its first voluntary
feed of a pinky rat 80 days after first sloughing or 93 days afterbirth.
From this point it settled down as a regular rat feeder and eventually
accepted rats or mice.
#5. ate voluntarily from the first
day after shedding.
These early feeds would eventually
regulate the differences between the sizes over the forthcoming years as
the early 'good feeders' had a jump start and the way food was being offered
in 'take as much as you like', it was almost impossible for the stragglers
to catch up.
As the snakes grew they were transferred
to larger individual cages. After the aquariums, they were housed in thermostatically
controlled cages with 'blue 40watt globes' being the source of heating.
No major problems were associated with
the rearing of the young apart from the many 'near misses' from the ever
enthusiastic jaws of the pythons. Only one, the largest, was a quiet and
non aggressive snake and could be handled freely in a non restraint manner
not normally given to 'Scrubbies' over 14ft.
With more experience with subsequent
litters, problems with reluctant feeders have been eliminated by offering
small finches if mice or rats are rejected. The young snakes can be weened
off the birds over to mice and rats with a limited effort of 'trick feeding'.
The following tables and graphs represent
data collected over a 27-month period. Due to ill health at the time, the
project was completed at this stage but I feel at this point most of the
required material had been obtained.
Growth was extremely rapid and naturally,
the more rapid growth was attributed to the more food consumed. At twelve
months of age, one of the snakes were just over 2.1 metres in length (7ft).
At 2 years of age the largest was almost
3.7 metres (12 ft 2 inches) in length and at the completion of the official
growth rates at 27 months the largest was in excess of 3.88 metres (12
ft 9 inches). The occasional measurement was taken after this period and
at three years of age the largest was in excess of 4.4 metres (14 ft 6
Our largest python has a reputation
of having an aggressive nature and to some degree this is true. Nevertheless,
the occasional 'quiet scrubbie' is encountered. It is not over-difficult
to maintain in captivity although questionable husbandry techniques have
given this impression in some collections. With a little caution, even
the most aggressive specimen can be handled safely provided common sense
and care is taken. There is probably more chance of the snake being damaged
in a rough encounter than the handler. A hungry 'scrubbie', of a quiet
nature can inflict the same result as the 'normal' aggressive specimen.
They are fairly common in captivity
and occasionally bred by a small number of herpetologists. Their status
in the wild seems secure and their only immediate threat appears to be