Centralian Pythons (Morelia bredli)
Centralian pythons are some of the most beautiful pythons in the world. Their magnificent red coloration helps them blend in with their redrock desert habitat. They come from central Australia around the area of Alice Springs. These snakes can usually be found in trees near seasonal watercourses. Centralians are generally mild mannered and even wild caught adults of this species rarely try to bite. They grow to an impressivc 8 feet long and are top preditors in their habitat usually preying on large mammals as adults. Large clutches of eggs have been laid by this species numbering as high as 40 eggs in wild females. Hatchlings Morelia bredli start out dull brown in coloration, but after a year or so develop intense orange and red coloration, brought out especially in natural sunlight. These snakes do well in captivity and make wonderful captives.
In captivity, Centralian pythons are hardy, which probably reflects their adaptabilty in the outback of Australia. Desert reptiles usually fare well in captivity because they are used to harsh and changing conditions that they experience in the wild and are forgiving to temperature extremes that we may accidentally impose apon them. As with all reptiles, Centralians should be given choices of temperature and humidity so they can choose which temperature they need to do a certain job. In the wild, reptiles can choose from basically all temperatures to find the one they need using thermoregulation, and they are experts at finding the required heat. I give my bredli a thermogradient using incandescent bulbs as well as heat pads, heat tape, or other heating elements. To create a proper thermogradient, a large cage is beneficial. The smaller the cage, the harder it is to create a thermogradient with the appropriate range of temperatures this snake needs. I use a cage that is a about 6 feet in length and 2 feet high. Directly under the basking spot can reach 130 degrees F. At the cool end of the cage, the temperatures are usually close to ambient room temps and average around the low 80's. With the wide range of different temperatures, the snakes can choose temps they need for jobs like digesting food, cycling for breeding, fighting illness, and general well being. Problems arise quickly when reptiles are not allowed access to the temps they need.
Centralian pythons will eat mice and rats in captivity with gusto. Hatchling pythons will grow very quickly when fed if they are given the temperatures they need to digest, and seem to be bottomless pits at feeding time. Care must be taken when feeding snakes housed together to make sure their strong feeding response is not directed at a fellow cagemate. Two snakes grappling for the same rodent does not make for a fun puzzle and the untangling is quite a chore. I make sure the snakes are in separate areas of the cage and that each snake has a food item. Alternatively, the snakes may be separated to different feeding enclosures at meal time. Water is given in a bowl that is not easily tipped over. Too much humidity can be damaging to the snakes, and spills should be cleaned up immediately. I do provide an area of increased humidity for the snakes to use if they need it for things such as egg laying and shedding. This can be accomplished by providing a hide area with slightly damp green or sphagnum moss.
These snakes will do well if their needs are met, and make for beautiful and interesting captives. I will go down to my herp room just to stare at these beauties. They are definately one of my favorites!