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Captive Maintenance of the Irian Jaya Carpet Python

by Kestrel(me)

Phantom, my yearling male IJC. Please do not steal.

General Info
The Irian Jaya carpet python, Morelia spilota variegata, is the smallest of the carpet pythons, reaching between 4.5 and 6ft. A 6ft IJC is pretty rare, but even 7ft snakes are known. Average is around 5ft, males being smaller then the females, generally. Temperment varies. You can get a puppy tame IJC like mine, which won't even bite mice, or you can get a nippy as all hell snake which won't tame down for anything. Its good to handle your snake before buying it to judge its temperment.

IJCs are a semi to mostly arboreal species, and like cages with alot of climbing space and branches. For juvies you can use tupperwear/rubbermaids, and a 20 gallon Tall aquarium works for a snake 30 to 40 inches long, providing alot of branches and fake or live plants. For an adult snake, you can keep them in a Vision cage of proper size, or a glass tank of proper size. For an adult, a cage 3ft by 3ft by 4ft should be big enough, but you can never provide a cage "too big". Always make sure the enclosure is secure. These guys are escape artists, and are very active at night. Always provide at least one hide place, 2 or 3 hide places for juvies is recommended. Also, a consideration for juvies is not to provide a huge enclosure for them, because they can feel insecure without hide spaces, and fail to eat and be nervous. Another thing to keep in mind is that these guys need high humidity, of 60 to 75%. If you buy a glass tank with a screen lid, you'll probably have to rig something up to cover it, or just cover most of it with tin foil.

Heating depends on what you are using to house the snake in. If you are using a tank, or something similiar, heat lamps are the best way to go. These guys thrive at 83 to 88 during the day, and down to mid to high 70s are night. If using a tupperwear container, you can use heating pads. You can use either a heating pad made for human use, or ones of various sizes ment for herps. Keep in mind, if using human heating pads, that they can short out if something heavy is left on them, so they aren't recommended for things like tanks or very large snakes. Always make sure to have something between the heating pad and the container. having the pad folded inside a towel is recommended, or buying a rhesostat(thing used to control temps) to plug the heating pad into. If using heatlamps, you can buy one night bulb, and one day bulb, and use two heat lamps, the night bulb being on 24/7, and just turn off the day light whenever you head off to bed or whatever.. keep in mind 12 hour light cycles. You can also buy a timer, which are available at most home improvement stores.

As I mentioned earlier, IJC's need a good amount of humidity, of at least 60%. Always buy a humidity gauge to stick in the back of the tank or whatever your keeping your snake in. Its usually easier to keep humidity high in tupperwears, but can be a pain in the ass to maintain in a tank. Foil taped over most of the screen top works well. Place a larger, or another water bowl in the enclosure, under the heat source. Misting down the tank with a spray bottle is almost always necessary. I spray my IJC's down once a day as i shut off the day lights, and this usually does it. Your substrate also has alot to do with it.

I'd have to say one of the best substrates to use is cypress mulch, which you can find at most home improvement stores, but its a bitch to maintain for a beginner. Aspen shavings, Carefresh, and newspaper are more commonly used. With loose bedding, you can spot clean, just picking up the waste and the bedding around it, but its still a good idea to dump everything out and put in new bedding once a month. Aspen shavings is good for maintaining humidity, but cypress mulch is the best, esp if you mist down the enclosure alot. Carefresh tends to leech the humidity out of the air if you're using heat lamps, but works great when using heat pads.

As with most snakes, the average feeding schedual is every 5 to 7 days, depending on age. Juvies can be fed every 5, adults every 7 to 14 days. You can feed your snake in its cage, or remove it, whatever you prefer. My male will ONLY eat in his enclosure, while hiding, feeling secure. He also will only eat fresh prekilled mice. My female will only take live mice, and will take them anywhere. It all depends on the snake. Hatchling IJC's usually prefer already furred crawlers to pinkies, and even as adults prefer larger meals over smaller ones. Keep this in mind...