Morelia Bredli or Centralian Python Caresheet

Housing   Heating   Furnishings   Acquiring   Feeding  Handling  Medical    Breeding

Centralian Python

Centralian Python – Morelia bredli. Image by J DAndrea.

Morelia bredli (also called Morelia spilota bredli) are found in a small area of Central Australia, in the Alice Springs region, where they may be encountered around watercourses.

Centralian pythons are an attractive snake, with colours ranging from orange to dark brick red.   There are yellow/tan markings surrounded by black on adult specimens, although these markings are muted in young snakes.

Centralians are usuall a docile, well mannered snake, and rarely bite, although of course, there will be exceptions to this rule – there always are!
Young Morelia bredli

Housing

If you’re going to get a Centralian python, it is best to do some research on their habitat requirements before the purchase.   Once the cage is set up, and the thermostat tested, then it will be ready for your new friend to move in.

Correct living conditions are important to the health of your snake. You can either build or purchase your snake’s cage.

A hatchling or juvenile Centralian will only need a small cage, and may be stressed in a large one, so to start with, give your new pet a small cage, or partition a larger one.

An adult specimen will need at least 120 cm x 60 cm x 60cm, preferably with a climbing branch.   Height is preferable to width.   The smallest cage size should be 50% of the length of the largest snake in the enclosure.

Young Centralian Python

Young Centralian Python

Heating

Test the heating and lighting on occasion, especially before obtaining your reptile.   Is the thermostat accurate?    Are the heating bulbs out of reach of the animal, or are there mesh covers on them?    Some snakes hang on the lights, and burn themselves. Some nasty injuries can occur.

My bredli has a range of about 23C to 34C in his home, and seems perfectly content with that, spending much time on the climbing frame in the centre of the cage.   It is important that the animal is able to thermoregulate, by moving between cool and warm areas.

In Winter, you may want to turn down the heating a little, to emmulate natural conditions.

Furnishings

Is the cage big enough for the snake, and will it remain large enough when your bredli grows?   These snakes can grow to about 300 cm or 3 metres.

A plastic plant, a log or rock, will add interest, as will a background picture if desired.    Rocks and logs will also give the snake something to rub against when it is shedding.

You’ll need a water bowl, large enough to fit the animal and an equivalent amount of water.    Have the bowl no more than half full, so that if the snake gets in, water will not be spilt everywhere.   Use rainwater or filtered water rather than chemically treated tapwater. My snakes get filtered tapwater.

A snake needs a hiding place where it can go to feel secure.   Try to have two such places in the cage, so it can choose.   One should be in a warm area, and the other in the cooler area.

Substrata can be newspaper, butcher’s paper, or kitty litter.   Whichever is available and suitable for the snake is satisfactory. Usually my snakes have a kitty litter made from recycled paper, in pellet form, and this is ideal.

Acquiring You Morelia Bredli

It’s exciting when you’re ready to get your new snake, especially if this is your first one!     You might already have chosen it at a dealer’s, or you’re going shopping soon.    If you are going to have just the one snake, as a pet, then it doesn’t really matter if it’s a male or femalle, as there is no difference in appearance.

When you find an animal you like the look of, handle it, and see how it reacts.

Does it move around, flicking its tongue, or is it hanging limply in your hands?  Does it look clean, healthy, and bright-eyed?    What are the cage conditions like?    Can you see any signs of mites or other parasites?

If you are not happy with the way a snake looks or behaves, don’t buy it, especially if you feel sorry for it, hard though this may be. You want a healthy snake, from a reputable source.    Perhaps your local Herp. Society can help you to find one.

Once you’ve bought your snake, get it home as soon as you can.
Place it in the pre-heated cage, ensuring it has a hid and fresh water, and leave it along for a few days, to settle in to its new home.

Yes, I know it’s hard, but it’s for the good of the reptile, and it will be calmer when you first handle your new pet.

Python with dead rat.

Python with dead rat. Image by J DAndrea.

Feeding

The supplier of your new pet will most likely have told you when the animal last ate, and what its diet has been.    Usually, this will be rats or mice of the relevant size for your snake, pinky mice for a hatchling, various larger sizes for bigger snakes.     Don’t live feed.   Get your snake to eat defrosted food.

It is good to vary the diet of your reptiles, sometimes giving them rats, sometimes mice.   Rabbits are good on occasions, but not all pythons will accept all foods.    If yours won’t don’t worry, so long as it gets entire feed animals of some type, then it will be fine.

It is best not to handle your python for at least 48 hours after a meal, or it may regurgitate.   This is not something you want to happen.    It is easy to overfeed pythons, as they tend to be quite greedy, and will usually take anything offered.     This includes your fingers, so please, feed your python with tongs!

An adult bredli will take a couple of adult rats, in proportion to the snake’s size, every 3-4 weeks in summer, monthly in winter, unless you are cooling the animal for breeding, in which case do not feed at all.

Hatchling and juvenile animals will take one or two pinky or fuzzy mice or rats, again in proportion to the snake’s size every two weeks in summer, less frequently in winter.   Be guided by your own animal.

In the wild, snakes may go for months without food, so if they refuse a meal or two, don’t worry too much.    They may refuse meals when about to shed, or if their cage is too cold.

If the snake becomes emaciated, or goes a long period without feeding, then of course, you will need the help of a good Australian Herp Vet or failing that, of a friend with more knowledge of reptiles.

Handling

Most bredli are easy to handle, as they are quite a placid snake.   A few individuals may be more snappy, but this is rare for the breed.

After your bredli has had a few days settling into its new home, take it out for a short time.    Don’t grab it suddenly, but don’t hesitate for too long either.      Just gently pick it up, supporting its weight with your other hand.   The snake should move around your hands freely, flicking its tongue and showing interest in its surroundings.

It is best not to handle a snake more than once a day, as they may become stressed by too much handling.    Don’t keep it out of the cage too long, especially if you can feel its body temperature dropping.

If you’re sitting quietly reading or watching TV, your python may like to rest on your lap or shoulders, and it’s a good way to let it learn that around you is a safe place to be.   It will also learn your scent, which is how it will recognise you – pythons don’t have great eyesight.

Medical

Respiratory problems are one of the most common illnesses snakes suffer from.   These are usually caused by a cold or damp cage, or from being out of the cage too long in a cold room.

Since I’m not a vet, all I can say here is that if your snake becomes unwell, turn up the heating in its cage, which often helps.   Take the animal to a vet as soon as you can.

At the very least, consult with a more experienced herp keeper – you definitely don’t want to lose your reptilian friend.

Python

Centralian Python In My Fig Tree

Breeding

If your snakes are going to be bred, then they’ll need to be cooled down for a couple of months over winter.   During this time, they will not feed.

When changing the temperature, it’s best to do it slowly, at a degree per day, until the desired temperature, say 18C in the cool part of the cage, is reached.    A warmer basking spot should always be provided.

You can put the snakes together for a couple of days every week or so during this time, and also during the warming up period. although it is probably best to keep them separated until you start to warm them up.

When they are back to normal temperatures in their enclosures, you may wish to leave them together for a while, or at least until the female ovulates.   Matings after ovulation have no effect on the fertility of the eggs.     Ovulation may be recognised by the middle part of the snake swelling up for up to 24 hours.

Eggs could be laid a few months after mating takes place, and should hatch 60 – 65 days later.   Centralian pythons can lay between 12 – 50 eggs.   The pre-lay shed may be 25 – 30 days prior to laying.

If you are lucky enoough to hatch your snakes, any hatchlings are best kept in individual accommodation.   They may not willingly accept pinky mice, so the food may have to be scented with skink.
You can do this by collecting a skink tail, boiling it, and saving the water in an ice cube tray.   Each cube can then scent a meal for your hatchlings.     Note:   Do remember to mark the ice cubes!

Good luck with your bredli – they’re a beautiful creature!