Bioactive Enclosures For Pythons
Burmese Pythons, Reticulated Pythons and Blood Pythons
In general what causes respiratory infections in Pythons is obese snakes and cages which are too cold and too humid. Other than obesity these conditions can be created by using a bioactive cage.
Ball Pythons and Angolan Dwarf Pythons
Ball Pythons are the most commonly kept python species in the pet trade. Keeping Ball Pythons in tubs in snake rack systems has proven to be so successful that they are now the most commonly bred Python in the pet trade and tens of thousands are bred every year in snake racking systems. Ball Pythons could be kept in a bioactive enclosure that are at least 1.2m long and are sparsely planted with live plants and have a well controlled level of humidity. In a bioactive enclosure you would still require several hides and you may not see your Ball Python until dusk and at night. No UVB lighting is required for Ball Pythons to thrive but the plants will require a light to grow, this can be achieved by using an LED lamp from your local hardware store. At the Transvaal Snake Park which I volunteered at in the late 1990s, had a very large enclosure fitted with plants, sand and tree branches housing Angolan Dwarf Pythons. The Angolan Dwarf Pythons thrived in this setup, however the snake park could not get them to breed, it turned out that these pythons were being bred very successfully in Europe where they were being kept in tubs in a snake racking system.
Why Are Balls Pythons Kept In Tubs?
Wild caught adult Ball Pythons that were available before captive breeding of Ball Pythons started becoming successfully were almost impossible to keep let alone breed. These adult wild caught Ball Pythons would not eat at all no matter what type of rodents they were being offered or if the rodent was alive or dead. These snakes that were kept in terrariums would die of starvation in no more than a year after being imported, once put in dark tubs in a racking system they started eating and finally breeding. If it was not for the practice of keeping Ball Pythons in tubs in snake racks there would be no captive bred Ball Python morphs available at all.
Spotted Pythons could be kept successfully in a small to medium sized semi arid bioactive enclosure. These snakes are smaller than most corn snakes and would not destroy plants in a bioactive enclosure. Semi arid bioactive terrariums are more difficult to setup and maintain than tropical bioactive terrariums. A dry forest setup would also work as Spotted Pythons do occur in dry forest habits. Spring tails and isopods which are insects used to clean up the snakes waste like more humid substrate so a different set of insects would be needed such as superworms or beetles. Succulents are hardy and easy to grow in a arid bioactive terrarium, do not us cacti unless you would like to visit the vet to have the spines surgically removed.
Hype About Bioactive Terrariums
I have been keeping reptiles for Nearly 27 years and in my opinion bioactive terrariums are not necessary to keep snakes properly. In fact there are more disadvantages in my opinion than advantages involved in keeping snakes in bioactive enclosures. I believe that clean enclosures of the correct size and that have the correct levels of temperature and humidity are the gold standard of snake keeping not bioactive enclosures. Small geckos and frogs do very well in bioactive enclosures, large pythons do not.