Jungle Carpet Python (Morelia Spilota Cheynei)

By Snaketracks / June 12, 2019
Jungle Carpet Python (Morelia-spilota-cheynei)

Jungle Carpet Python Care Sheet

The brightly colored jungle carpet python is loved by many reptile enthusiasts because of its gorgeous black and yellow coloration. Found in the rainforests of Australia, specimens of this exotic species make wonderful pets. As a python, it is nonvenomous and not harmful to human. Read on to learn more about this curious and amazing snake.

Quick Reference Section

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Family: Pythonidae
  • Scientific Name: Morelia spilota cheynei
  • Risk Factor: Nonvenomous, python
  • Average Adult Size: 5–7 feet (1.5-2.1 m)
  • Lifespan: 15 – 20 years
  • Clutch Size: 10 to 25 eggs
  • Egg Incubation Period: 50 – 55 days
  • Food: Frozen rats
  • Average Temperature: 90°H/72°L
  • Humidity: 50 – 60%
  • UVB Lighting: optional
  • Average Price Range: $150 – $450
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern on IUCN Redlist

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Facts and Information

Jungle carpet python in tree
Jungle Carpet Python in tree

The scientific name of the jungle carpet python is Morelia spilota cheynei. As you can tell, the M. s. cheynei is a subspecies of the Morelia spilota, which is also called the carpet python.

Carpet pythons are endemic to Australasian regions such as Australia, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea. Other subspecies include the southern carpet python, the coastal carpet python, the Inland carpet python, the Papuan carpet python, and the diamond python.

You can tell the jungle carpet python apart by its bright yellow and black coloration. Colors create diamond-like patterns thus the name diamond python.

You can find this species in the rainforests of Queensland in Australia. As you can see, they prefer regions of high temperature and high humidity.

They are slender and long, and can grow up to 5 to 7 feet. They spend most of their time in trees, as they are arboreal snakes. It’s their distinctive yellow and black that makes them desirable to snake keepers. This appearance also makes them easy to identify.

Jungle Carpet Python Habitat

In the wild, they are found rainforests in Australia. They spend most of their time scaling trees in search of prey such as other reptiles, birds and small mammals.

This should be taken into consideration when creating an artificial habitat for a specimen of this species. The humidity level in their habitat has to be on the high end. Similarly, you can provide branches for them to climb.

Enclosure

custom snake enclosure

While you can house the snakes in aquariums this is not the best. The top entry to an aquarium stresses the snake since many of the snakes’ predators such as raptors attack from above.

Additionally, the glass sides of an aquarium absorb heat easily. This can lead to overheating which can cause the death of the snake. Nowadays, there are many snake vivariums made of other materials such as wood and PVC which are great insulators.

These vivariums have opaque sides, top, and bottom with a single glass or transparent acrylic plastic panel.

Since these are large snakes, they need a large living space. An enclosure with dimensions 59 (L) x 35 (W) x 48 (H) inches (150 x 90 x 120 cm) is best for these snakes.

One way is to build a custom snake enclosure, which we have a guide for. There are many ways to build one, but here is one idea for you to start from.

You can keep them in smaller containers. However, this isn’t best, as there is barely any space for snakes to climb. Ensure that the sum of the vivarium’s width and length is higher than the length of the snake. A large enclosure allows the python to exercise, explore and remain comfortable.

Decorate the enclosure with tree branches, and caves. The caves can be overturned clayey pots or artificial reptile cave such as the Exo Terra Reptile Cave. The cage has to be large enough for the snake to hide in entirely. This keeps the snake from being overly stressed.

Substrate

Different types of substrates can be used for the enclosure’s bedding. Popular choices include coconut fiber, cypress mulch, aspen snake bedding, and even newspaper. Since the python doesn’t burrow, the bedding doesn’t need to be deep.

Avoid rocks, gravel, and stone as they may hurt the snake. Similarly, avoid substrates such as cedar and pine shaving as they are toxic to snakes. Keep the substrate dry and clean.

Dirty substrate increases the likelihood of parasite and bacterial outbreaks. Change the substrate regularly, about every 3 weeks. The regularity depends on the substrate used.

Temperature

Try to create a temperature gradient for the enclosure. This allows the snake to regulate its body temperature by moving to either the warmer or the cooler sides of the enclosure.

The cooler side of the enclosure needs to have a temperature of 72 F (22 C) while the warmer side of the enclosure needs to be 90 F (32 C).

Mount a ceramic reptile heat lamp such as the Fluker’s Ceramic Heat Emitter to the top of the enclosure or tape a heat pad such as the Fluker’s Heat Mat to the underside of the warmer side of the enclosure.

Use a thermostat such as the Century Digital Heat Mat Thermostat Controller to ensure the temperature never gets too high.

Humidity

Unlike with other snakes, maintaining humidity levels isn’t severely important when it comes to carpet pythons. The optimal humidity level for this snake to thrive is 50%.

This is usually the same humidity level of most rooms. Place a basin of water in the cage. The basin has to be large enough to hold the entire snake. In addition, the basin should be sturdy so your pet snake can’t tip it.

Lastly, mist the enclosure occasionally. Allow the enclosure to completely dry before misting it again. Misting and high humidity ease the shedding process.

Lighting

This python doesn’t require special UVA/UVB lighting. Normal fluorescent lighting is good enough to provide the snake with a day-night cycle. The lights should be on for about 11-12 hours every day. The light makes cleaning easier.

Feeding the Jungle Carpet Python

Jungle Carpet python with tongue out
Jungle Carpet Python with tongue out

In the wild, these constrictors feed on preys found in their vicinities such as rodents, lizards, small mammals, and birds. They are opportunistic feeders and eat a variety of preys. They asphyxiate their food and swallow them.

Adult pythons are large snakes and need to be fed large preys such as rabbits. It is best to feed them dead rats as live rats may fight back and harm the snake. Even if you feed the snake live rats, supervised the feeding. Dead preys are also free of parasites that can be passed onto the python.

Feed young pythons a pinkie rat once every 5 to 8 days. Adults should be fed a large rat or rabbit every 14 to 21 days. The food needs to be properly thawed and warmed before offering it to the python. Seal it in a rubber bag and place it in hot water.

Most python keepers prefer to feed their snakes in a tub/container separate to the snake’s enclosure. After feeding, do not pick up the snake for 48 hours.

Other foods to include in the diet include rabbits, chicks, and quails.

Jungle Carpet Python’s Temperament

Jungle Carpet Python Head (Morelia spilota cheynei)

Although hatchlings are defensive and nippy, they grow to be calm and gentle adults. Although they are generally docile and don’t mind being handled, do so about three times a week.

Similarly, don’t handle them for more than thirty minutes at a time. Because of their size, lift them with both hands. Use one hand to support the bulkiest part while the other hand supports the front end of the snake.

Remember! After feeding them, don’t handle them for 42 hours since doing so makes discomforts them. Similarly, don’t pick them up 24 hours before feeding time. Lastly, leave them alone when they are shedding.

Jungle Carpet Python’s Lifespan

In captivity, they can live for over 25 years. In the wild, they’re estimated to have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years. In order for them to live long, you need to properly care for them.

Breeding Jungle Carpet Pythons

Carpet pythons have been bred successfully and reliably by several breeders. As such, acquiring one that is captive bred is not difficult.

Breeding these snakes is an extensive topic that we can’t properly cover at the moment. Before breeding these snakes, you need to establish your goal. You also need to be conversant with keeping snakes.

These snakes are annual breeders. They usually start the breeding process in the Fall. Since males are aggressive towards each other during the breeding season, they need to be housed separately.

Gravid females lay 10 to 25 eggs 25 days after mating. The eggs hatch after 50 to 55 days. The hatchlings are independent once they hatch.

Health Issues

Mite and worms are common parasites among snakes. A python infested with mites will usually submerge itself in water. However, this behavior isn’t always indicative of a mite infestation.

Treat mite infestation with herp safe mite spray. The enclosure also needs to be properly treated, as mites don’t lay eggs on the snake.

Change the water provided every 3 days at the most or whenever the water is dirty. The substrate also needs to be changed when it is dirty. To prevent the buildup of bacteria clean the enclosure with a bleach solution every 3 months.

In addition, to prevent incomplete shedding ensure the humidity level is high when the snake is shedding.

Signs of illness include loss of appetite, labored breathing (wheezing), discharge from nostrils and mouth, and recurrent vomiting. If there is any sign of injury or illness, contact your herp vet immediately.

Pricing and Availability

Because of the unique coloration of this subspecies, there are rarely any morphs available. Zebra jungle carpet pythons are a rare variation to the subspecies. These unique looking pythons are quite expensive and cost $150 to $450. 

If you are interested in acquiring them, you can visit your nearest snake breeder or reptile pet store. You can also acquire them online. Acquiring them online can be tricky as descriptions and pictures given can be intentionally or accidentally deceiving.

Always request several photos of the snake before purchasing. Great sites to acquire jungle carpet snakes from include Morph Market, Snakes at Sunset, and Underground Reptiles.

Conservation/Threats

Although the M. spilota is not threatened species, the wild population of certain subspecies such as the M. s. imbricata is regarded as near threatened and the nominate subspecies M. s. spilota is threatened with extinction in its native Victoria, Australia. The jungle carpet python, however, is not threatened. The species has a Least Concern status on the IUCN Redlist.

Conclusion

The jungle carpet pythons are some of the easiest large snakes to care for. They may be huge and all, but they are one of the most docile and gentle constrictors in the world. Their striking skin coloration is unique and ensures that they stand apart.

No wonder many snake enthusiasts consider them among the most beautiful snake species in the world. If you have any questions or comments on this exotic snake, kindly leave them.

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