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Carpet Python ( Python spilotes variegata )

Here we see a 3rd generation Glasgow Zoopark bred carpet python
Carpet Python
Photos by Andy Smyth, Photographer. ©

Bush, scrubland
Food in wild: Birds, mammals including wallabies, lizards

This snake is nocturnal, but can often be seen basking in the early morning sun(supposing we ever see the sun!)

Our original Carpet pythons were acquired as captive-bred babies from Perth Zoo in Western Australia. The Director of Perth Zoo at the time was Dr Tom Spence, a Scot, originally from Fife, who seemed to retain a soft spot for our Zoo, and was always very kind to us.

Exporting any livestock from Australia is usually a fairly complicated business. Before our four little carpet pythons could be dispatched to us, we were inspected by the Australian High Commission in London who flew somebody up to Glasgow specially. We must have passed, despite my plying this very sophisticated gentleman with offers of a Fosters lager , at lunch, which makes me cringe to this day, just thinking about it, because we received an export permit soon afterwards.

We had lots of problems with getting the early Carpets to feed, especially the diminutive males, and we lost one or two. Fifteen years later, we have bred them many times, and have snakes now in the second and third generations, captive-bred.

The name Carpet python refers to the oriental carpet effect. Ours are a typical beigy-green, criss-crossed with dark markings. Whilst we used one or two of the younger snakes for meet the snake sessions, most of the adults are now around 1.5 metres in length, and breeding, so we have discontinued using these for that activity.

In the wild, the geographic range is focussed on Australia and New Guinea (West Indian and Papua). It is absent from Western and extreme South-eastern Australia.

The Carpet Python is regarded as a sub-species of the Diamond Python , and the two forms integrate in some areas, but not in others.

During the 1990s in the U.K. they became a popular snake with herpetologists and were regularly offered for sale by dealers.

We have bred them many times, sometimes achieving three or four clutches, of up to 40 eggs in a season.

Mating takes place in January, and clutches of eggs hidden if possible under a sheet of bark, or woodchips, are laid in March. They hatch after 40 days at 83. The pencil-sized young, are extremely difficult and time consuming to get to feed, and to prevent from regurgitating immediately afterwards.

One large display cage 2 metres by 3 metres by 1.4 metres in height maintains a breeding quartet of adults, with other adults and juveniles kept off-exhibit . The glass-fronted, brick cage contains branches, a cemented rock pile , wood chips, gravel and a water bowl. Strip-lights above the window run the full width of the cage, with localised heat-lamps elsewhere.

In 1986, a teenager stole a Carpet Python from a smaller enclosure in the central area of the Tropical House, whose door could be forced. Assuming he wasn't very sophisticated in herptile terms, we kept quiet thinking such a snake might surface again quite soon. A month later, we were asked for husbandry details of this type of snake. After paying a reward/ransom of 30, we got our snake back! Since then we have increased security measures significantly.