What Pythons eat?
The most common python species kept as a pet is the relatively small ball python (Python regius). This snake matures between 4 to 5 feet in length and is available in various colors and patterns. Pythons differ from boas in that they have additional teeth and an extra bone in the head.
Diet in the Wild
In the wild, pythons dwell in a variety of environments, ranging from the constant humidity of the tropical rainforest to the hot, searing desert. Pythons constrict their prey, squeezing and suffocating the victim to death. The snake can feel the prey's heartbeat - when it stops, it's time to let go and eat. Pythons generally swallow prey in one gulp. In the wild, their diet consists of small rodents and small birds. Desert-dwelling species consume gerbils, a desert-dwelling rodent.
Diet in Captivity
Once a week, feed your python a small rat or large mouse. Some snakes show a definite preference for one or the other. You can purchase these creatures fresh, frozen or thawed from pet stores. It's not a good idea to feed your captive python live prey, as the rodent can scratch and bite and injure you or the snake. Don't handle your snake the day after a feeding, as jostling can cause him to regurgitate the rodent. Pythons must always have fresh, clean water available for drinking and soaking.
Warnings and Considerations
If you have small kittens, puppies or pet rodents in your house, make sure your python's enclosure is secure. He can't discern the difference between a pet and a meal. In captivity, pythons often suffer from obesity. They move very little compared to their wild relatives and don't have to hunt for food. Rodents bred for the pet snake trade are quite high in fat, compared to those found in nature. If pythons become overweight, they can be prone to reproductive problems, heart disease and hepatic lipidosis, or fatty-liver disease. Keep an accurate account of your pet's weight and allow him ample opportunities for exercise.
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