What should I consider before buying a Royal Python?

From Length Lifespan Groups
Western and Central Africa 5 feet (on average) 20 to 25 years Best kept solitary

Royal Pythons, referred to as Ball Pythons outside of the UK, are an excellent starter species for someone who is new to keeping reptiles.

Their needs are very basic, they do not grow to a particularly large size and they are usually very placid (although it is important to remember that any animal will defend itself if provoked). This makes them ideal for beginners.
 

Have you got everything prepared?

  • Vivarium
  • Heat and Light Source
  • Bulb Holder and Guard
  • Food and Water Bowls
  • Hide
  • Thermometer, Thermostat and Hygrometer
  • Spray Bottle/Humidifier
  • Feeding Tongs
  • Snake Hook (optional)
  • Food (make sure you have freezer space!)
  • Vivarium Lock
  • Substrate
 

Diet

Royal Pythons are obligate carnivores which means they will only eat meat. The size of this type of snake means they can be fed a variety of mice and small rats. Rats and mice are bought frozen, and they should be completely thawed out before feeding to the snake or you could risk dangerously lowering their body temperature. The size of the prey offered should correspond to the size of the prey itself – the prey should never be bigger than the widest part of the snake’s body.

There are two methods in which food can be presented to a snake. These are strike feeding and bowl feeding.

Strike feeding involves dangling the animal in front of the snake using feeding tongs and waiting for the snake to strike the prey and coil around it. Never offer food by holding it in your fingers! This can cause the snake to accidentally strike your fingers when aiming for the prey, or it could simply begin to associate your hands with food, which would make handling dangerous.

Bowl feeding involves laying the prey on a shallow bowl or rock and allowing the snake to find the food for itself. This may not be as effective, as in the wild the snake would expect to chase its prey, and may not be as likely to take an interest if it already appears dead (i.e. not moving).

Whichever method you choose, never ever use live animals.

These snakes can go a few weeks without eating, but if you are struggling to get your Royal Python to feed, try cutting the prey so they will smell the blood more strongly.

 

Enclosure

Royal Pythons are a terrestrial species, meaning they spend most of their time on the ground. They will, however, climb low branches you may choose to include in your vivarium. Due to their size, an enclosure for an adult should be at least 3ft wide, 2ft deep, and 1.5ft high. The vivarium should allow for a fair amount of substrate, which the python will enjoy burrowing in. It is also vital to check the security of the vivarium as snakes are excellent escape artists. Make sure the vivarium is securely locked and be aware of any damaged areas through which the snake could escape. The enclosure should be spot cleaned daily, with a full clean out once a month.
 

 

Heating and Lighting

Royal Pythons require a basking spot temperature of around 35°C with an ambient temperature of around 30°C. The cooler side of the vivarium should be around 25°C. At night, you should make sure that the temperature does not drop below 22°C. UV lighting is not essential for royal pythons, although there can be benefits such as brighter colouration if a low level “natural light” is used. This can come from their heat bulb. Their overall photo period should be twelve hours of light and twelve hours of darkness per day.
A hiding area should be included at the cooler end of the vivarium. Hiding areas are important as they allow the snake a place to retreat into a place where they feel secure. This is a natural behaviour that they instinctually follow even in captivity, because in the wild this would help them to avoid being eaten.
 


 
 

Substrate

Royal Pythons require a substrate which they can burrow in, and is also good at retaining moisture. Coco fibre is a suitable type to use, and mixing it with bark chips can help to maintain humidity levels. This will also help to prevent respiratory issues caused by finer dust particles. The substrate should be 2 – 3 inches deep.
 
 


 
 

Water and Humidity

The humidity levels in a royal python’s vivarium should usually be around 60%, but should never drop below 50%. The humidity level can be topped up by spraying with a water bottle or humidifier. You should aim to be misting the vivarium twice daily, which can be done manually or through a fogger system. A water source should always be available, in a bowl large enough for the snake to bathe in. This should be replenished regularly to maintain hygiene.
 
 


 
 

Behaviours to watch out for

  • As they get ready to shed their skin, the snake’s eyes will briefly go cloudy. They will return to normal during or after the shed.
  • Snakes can regurgitate their food if they feel stressed or threatened. It is best not to handle a snake for at least two days after feeding.
  • They may become a bit defensive when preparing to shed, so it may be best to avoid handling during this period.
  • Snakes will become much more aggressive when they sense food, so it is best to keep your distance when there is food nearby!
  • Snakes should shed their skin all in one go. Patchy skin is a sign of a bad shed. To combat this, make sure the humidity is optimal and provide a rough surface such as a rock or branch to help them shed.
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    If this handy guide has piqued your interest in purchasing a Royal Python, everything you may need can be found in-store or on our website. If you have any questions feel free to give us a call on 01482 585315 or drop us an email to enquiry@peejaypets.co.uk.

What should I consider before buying a corn snake?

From Length Lifespan Groups
Eastern United States 5 feet (on average) 10 to 15 years Best kept solitary

 

Corn snakes are an excellent species for people considering snake-keeping as a hobby. Not only are they simple to care for, but they come in a wide range of visually stunning morphs.

In general, corn snakes are a fairly docile species – which makes them very easy to handle and rarely aggressive. But you still need to remember to treat them with care, as any animal will seek to defend itself if provoked.
 

Have you got everything prepared?

  • Vivarium
  • Light and Heat Source
  • Bulb Fitting and Guard
  • Thermostat and Thermometer
  • Water and Food Bowls
  • Hide
  • Substrate
  • Vivarium Lock
  • Feeding Tongs
  • Snake Hook (optional)
  • Vivarium Lock
  • Food (ensure you have freezer space!)
  • Spray Bottle/Humidifier (not essential but can help with shedding)

 

Diet

Corn snakes are obligate carnivores, which means they only feed on meat.

The most common food used for snakes are mice. Mice are bought frozen so need to be thawed out completely before being fed to your snake, otherwise it can significantly reduce their body temperature which is dangerous. What size of mouse you feed should be determined by the size of your snake itself – it should be no larger than the widest part of your snake’s body.

There are two methods of feeding that snake owners should be aware of: strike feeding or bowl feeding.

Strike feeding involves dangling the mouse from some feeding tongs in front of the snake and waiting for them to strike the prey and coil around it. Never offer food by holding it in your fingers! This can cause the snake to accidentally bite you when striking the prey, or it could cause the snake to simply associate your hands with feeding, which can make handling more dangerous.

Bowl feeding involves laying the mouse on a shallow bowl or rock, and then allowing the snake to find it. The snake may not respond to this method however, as in the wild they would be more attracted to moving prey, not one that already appears to be dead.

Whichever method you choose, never ever use live animals.

It is not uncommon for a corn snake to go a few weeks without eating. However, if you are struggling to get your snake to eat, you may find it easier to cut the prey, causing the scent of blood to be more potent to the snake.

 

Enclosure

An enclosure that is 3.5ft wide, 2 feet deep, and 2 feet high will provide enough space for a fully grown adult snake, although this should be treated as a minimum size. Whilst corn snakes are mostly terrestrial, they will climb on low branches which you may like to include in your vivarium. The enclosure should be suitable for deeper substrates as corn snakes like to burrow. It is also vital to check the security of the vivarium as snakes are known for being escape artists; ensure that there is no damage anywhere and that the doors shut fully. It is recommended to buy a lock for the enclosure.
 

 

Heating and Lighting

A heat bulb will be required to keep the snake’s vivarium at an optimum temperature. The temperature should be maintained at around 20-24°C at the cooler end of the vivarium and 28-30°C in their basking area. At night time, the temperature should never drop below 20°C. It is recommended to buy a bulb guard as well to protect the snake should it choose to coil around the bulb. Corn snakes do not actually require UV lighting, but should have some form of low-level light – this can come from their heat bulb. Using low-level lighting can help to bring out brighter colours on the snake.
 
If you choose to use a heat bulb as the only light source in the vivarium, a basking or daylight bulb should be used alongside a dimmer thermostat.
If using another light source, ceramic heat elements are the most reliable way to heat the vivarium – they are much more durable and therefore last longer. This should be used alongside either a pulse thermostat or an on/off thermostat.
Heat mats can also be used, but they are far less effective than the aforementioned bulbs.
 
A hiding area should be included at the cooler end of the vivarium. Hiding areas are important as they allow the snake a place to retreat into a place where they feel secure. This is a natural behaviour that they instinctually follow even in captivity, because in the wild this would help them to avoid being eaten.
 


 
 

 

Substrate

As with most reptiles, the topic of substrate is often divided. Beechwood chips or bark chips would be recommended as they allow the snake to burrow and present a lower chance of respiratory issues compared to finer particles like sand. Aspen bedding may also be used, but it is important to note that the dust from this substrate can cause irritation in the nose and mouth. The substrate is best at around 2-3 inches deep.
 
If your snake is ever suffering from mites, it is useful to use paper towels as substrate. This makes the mites easier to see and gives them fewer places to hide. It is also very easy to clean as it leaves no particles behind.
 


 
 

Water and Humidity

Corn snakes do not need high humidity levels. Keeping the tank between 40-50% humidity is suitable for them. This can be topped up using water in a spray bottle or a humidifier. A water bowl should be available at all times, this should be deep enough to bathe in and the water should be changed regularly to maintain hygiene.

 

Behaviours to watch out for

  • Snakes are very good at escaping so maintaining the security of the enclosure is vital.
  • Snakes will regurgitate their food if stressed, therefore it is best to avoid handling the snake or rearranging the enclosure for at least two days after feeding.
  • When a snake is about to shed, its eyes will go cloudy. This is temporary and will clear up once the snake starts shedding.
  • Snakes will become more aggressive if they sense food, so it is best to avoid getting too close when there is food nearby.
  •  
    If this handy guide has piqued your interest in purchasing a corn snake, everything you may need can be found in-store or on our website. If you have any questions feel free to give us a call on 01482 585315 or drop us an email to enquiry@peejaypets.co.uk.

What Should I Consider Before Buying A Bearded Dragon?

What Should I Consider Before Buying A Bearded Dragon?

Bearded dragons are a hardy species of lizard who get their name from the bearded crest on their throats. They are an entertaining species and make an excellent choice for anybody new to keeping reptiles.

Bearded dragons originate from Australia. They can grow to a length of 24 inches and have an approximate lifespan of 10-15 years. Due to their diurnal nature they are most active during the day. These animals are fairly docile and enjoy being handled, though they are best kept solitary unless wanting to breed.

 

What Equipment Will I Need To Care For My Bearded Dragon?

 

  • Vivarium (3ftX2ftx2ft minimum)
  • UVB Bulb
  • Heat source
  • Bulb Fitting
  • Bulb Guard
  • UVB Power Supply (If using fluorescent tube)
  • Substrate (e.g. Sand or Beechwood Chips)
  • Thermostat
  • Thermometer
  • Water Bowl
  • Hide/Shelter
  • Basking Area
  • Food Bowl
  • Food and supplement powder
 

Vivarium (3ftX2ftx2ft minimum)

Bearded dragons are terrestrial but will climb along small branches. Therefore, a fully grown adult will require a vivarium that is at least 3.5 feet (107cm) long, 2 feet (61cm) deep, and 2 feet (61cm) high. This will ensure that they have ample space to roam around their enclosure and some space to climb. Within their vivarium, they will also require an area to hide and a basking spot. Additionally, a deep substrate will be beneficial as they enjoy digging in the sand.

Please note: Vivariums are currently available in-store only. If you would like to organise a local delivery please contact us on 01482 585315 or enquiry@peejaypets.co.uk to book a delivery slot.

 

 

UVB Bulb

Bearded Dragons require a source of UVB light of around 12% (this could be a desert or intense category bulb), which will need to be replaced approximately every twelve months. They will also need a photo period of twelve hours per day – this means that the UVB light must be switched on for this length of time. You could do this manually or with a timer. It is also important to note that if a strip light is used the correct fitting will also need to be purchased to correspond to this.


 
 

UVB Power Supply

 
If you choose to go with a UVB strip bulb, it is important that you buy the correct fitting for it. These will allow for bulbs of differing lengths and wattages to provide light to your enclosure.
 


 
 

Heat Source

 
As with most reptiles, a bearded dragon’s vivarium should be set up so that there is a warmer area and a cooler area to ensure the animal can move between temperatures as it feels comfortable to do so. A bearded dragon will need a daytime basking spot of around 36-38 degrees celsius, whilst the cooler areas of the enclosure should reach around 25-29 degrees. Night time temperatures should never drop below 20 degrees. A bulb fitting (either Easy Screw or Bayonet) will be required to power your heat source, make sure you buy corresponding bulbs and fittings!
 


 
 

Thermostat and Thermometer

 

It is also important to ensure that your bearded dragon’s enclosure has a thermostat and a thermometer, this will help you to easily identify the temperature in the vivarium and alter it if needed.
 
The thermomether will constantly monitor the temperature of your vivarium in both celcius and farenheit depending on your preference. It can also display the minimum and maximum temperatures the vivarium has reached so you are aware of any dramatic changes.
 


 
 

A thermostat, on the other hand, will actually make changes to the temperature of the vivarium for you. It is best to use a dimming thermostat, although other options are available. Dimming thermostats work by changing the amount of energy that is being directed into the heat lamp – i.e. increasing the energy when the temperature falls too low and vice versa. This ensures that your bearded dragon will consistently be at an optimum temperature with minimal input from you!
 


 
 

Bulb Fitting and Bulb Guard

 
Once the correct bulb has been established, you must make sure it has the correct fitting and a suitable bulb guard to protect your bearded dragon.
 
This ceramic bulb fixture will support bulbs that have an easy screw fitting (not bayonet fittings) and a maximum of 200w. It is possible to use a bulb with a capacity of more than 200w with this fitting, however, it will only ever have an output of 200w. Equally, it is possible to use a bulb with a capacity of less than 200w, but in this case, the output will only ever be that of the bulb itself. This setup will be controlled by the dimmer thermostat if you choose to purchase one.
 


 
 

The light and heat guard serves a very simple purpose – to protect your bearded dragon from coming into contact with the lamp and causing itself any heat-related injuries. Therefore, it is not essential but highly recommended due to the risks associated with having a bare bulb.
 


 
 

Basking Area/Hiding Place

 
Beneath your heat lamp should be an area in which your bearded dragon can bask in the light and heat, mimicking the experience it may have had beneath the hot sun. This should include an area that it can climb on such as a rock or branch. The Komodo Basking Ramp is ideal for this purpose as there is a flat surface on the top for basking and a hiding spot underneath for shade.
 


 
 

Substrate

 
Sand is usually the favoured substrate for bearded dragons as it absorbs heat well and therefore best replicates the Australian outback from which they originate. However, it is important to consider that using sand particles that are too large can pose a risk to your pet’s digestive system if accidentally ingested. Therefore, it is advisable to use a fine or medium grain sand, or even avoid sand altogether and try Beechwood chips instead.
 


 
 

Food and Supplement Powder

 
Bearded Dragons are omnivores, which means they will eat both meat and vegetation. When they are hatchlings, the correct ratio is 30% vegetation to 70% insects, and as they get older this can move to a 50:50 ratio. However, most tend to prefer bugs to greens, so it is important that the vegetation is always available.
 
Bugs that can be used include crickets, locusts, and cockroaches, as well as mealworms and waxworms as a treat. Make sure any insects provided are no bigger than the space between the dragon’s eyes. It is also important to gut-load and dust the insects with supplement calcium powder to ensure optimal nutritional intake. Remove any uneaten insects as they can become aggressive and potentially bite the lizard.
 
The greens which can be used include dandelion leaves, pak choi, watercress, rocket, and butternut squash as staple foods. Carrots, bell peppers, peas, and sweet potatoes can be given every few days. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas, and apples can be given once a week. Vegetation to avoid includes lettuce, cabbage, sprouts, melon, citrus fruits, and avocado.
 
In a nutshell, salads should be provided daily, with 6-7 suitably sized insects every couple of days.
 


 
 

Food and Water Bowls

The aforementioned food – mainly the vegetation – should not simply be left on the floor of the enclosure for your bearded dragon. It is important to put it in a food bowl as your pet will then know that this is an area where food will consistently be available; unlike bugs that will roam freely around the vivarium. Although they are a desert-dwelling species, bearded dragons still need constant access to water. Therefore, it is necessary to provide a shallow water bowl. The humidity in the vivarium should be kept between 20%-40%, preferably with a spray in the morning to recreate the morning dew they would encounter in the wild.


 
 

Behaviours to Watch Out For

 
Arm waving behaviour is a submissive/passive display.
 
Dark beard and head bobbing is a dominant/aggressive display.
 
Brumation – a state of hibernation that bearded dragons can go into if there have been changes to light timing or temperature. Includes loss of appetite without weight loss and excessive resting.
 
Bearded dragons don’t shed their skin in one piece like some reptiles. Instead, their skin starts to shed in patches all over.

 
 
 
If this handy guide has piqued your interest in purchasing a bearded dragon, everything you may need can be found in-store or on our website. If you have any questions feel free to give us a call on 01482 585315 or drop us an email to enquiry@peejaypets.co.uk.