The mainland reticulated pythons are nature’s true giants. Females have been know to reach well over 20 feet long and into the upper 200 lbs of body weight. The largest recorded reticulated pythons are only listed as “somewhat reliably” measured. These large snakes are very difficult to get accurate measurements on due to the mobility and strength. True accurate measurements require heavy sedation to achieve, or post-mortem evaluation. Jay Brewer’s snake, Twinki, at Prehistoric Pets in California is listed as the world’s record largest albino reticulated python and weighed in at 300lbs. Medussa, a reticulated python that lived in Kansas City, Ms was listed at 25’2″ long on October 12, 2011.
These large snakes should be able to live a very long life. This, along with their size potential, make them a serious responsibility. We know of some that have lived into their 30’s. By the time these snake reach their 20’s, or even 30’s, they are likely to be over 20 feet long.
Size & Handling Techniques
The shear size of these snakes as adults makes them a real challenge.
They are too big to be safely handled by one person alone however, with the proper training they can learn to move and cooperate with their handler to make it easier. Training them to accept handling with positive reinforcement is vital for helping their keepers manage them safely. Watch these videos below of Sara and Valac in some training sessions. He is learning how to hold onto her and to stay with her. This requires her to handle him in a way that makes him feel safe.
This video shows the first handling session for a young retic that was surrendered to us. She will get much larger!
Our goal is for the snake to learn how to do a “snake belt”. That means they anchor themselves around the handler’s waste and then use one shoulder for support. We do NOT recommend you allow a snake this size to sit on both shoulders. It’s best to keep them away from your neck. If you are strong enough to support their weight, the one shoulder and belt position helps the larger individuals accept handling with less stress.
We often hear people being fearful of allowing a large constrictor to wrap around them like this. What we need to remember that reticulated pythons are naturally arboreal. They learn quickly how to use their handler as a perch and tend to calm significantly once they learn to trust their handler in this way. Allowing an arboreal snake to anchor to something that is up off the ground is an excellent way to help them feel safe. When you are ready to put the snake down all you need to do is show them a suitable hide and they will readily climb from their perch (YOU) off and down into the hide.
Meet the Snake Haus Mainland Reticulated Pythons here: