The Reticulated Python (Python reticulatus) is a species of python found in Southeast Asia. They are the world's longest snakes and longest reptiles and among the three heaviest snakes. Like all pythons, they are nonvenomous constrictors and normally not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, attacks are only occasionally reported. An excellent swimmer, The Reticulated Python has been reported far out at sea and has colonized many small islands within its range. The specific name, reticulatus, is Latin meaning "net-like", or reticulated, and is a reference to the complex color pattern. This species is the largest snake native to Asia. More than a thousand wild reticulated pythons in southern Sumatra were studied and estimated to have a length range of 1.5 to 6.5 m (4.9 to 21.3 ft) and a weight range of 1 to 75 kg (2.2 to 165.3 lb). Reticulated pythons with lengths more than 6 m (19.7 ft) are rare, though according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the only extant snake to regularly exceed that length. A reticulated python of the same length as a Green Anaconda may weigh only half as much as the bulkier anaconda. One of the largest scientifically measured specimens, from Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, was measured under anesthesia at 6.95 m (22.8 ft) and weighed 59 kg (130 lb) after not having eaten for nearly 3 months. Widely published data of specimens that were reported to be several feet longer have not been confirmed. The color pattern is a complex geometric pattern that incorporates different colors. The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes flanked by smaller markings with light centers. In this species' wide geographic range, much variation of size, color, and markings commonly occurs.
Reticulated pythons are found in South Asia from the Nicobar Islands, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, east through Indonesia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago (Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands, the Natuna Islands, Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor, Maluku, Tanimbar Islands) and the Philippines (Basilan, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Polillo, Samar, Tawi-Tawi). The reticulated python lives in rain forests, woodlands, and nearby grasslands. It is also associated with rivers and is found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range. In the wild, the Reticulated Python's natural diet includes mammals and occasionally birds. Small specimens up to 3–4 m (9.8–13.1 ft) long eat mainly rodents such as rats, whereas larger individuals switch to prey such as Viverridae (e.g. civets and binturongs), and even primates and pigs. Near human habitation, they are known to snatch stray chickens, cats, and dogs on occasion. Among the largest, fully documented prey items to have been taken are a half-starved sun bear of 23 kilograms that was eaten by a 6.95-m (22.8-ft) specimen and took some ten weeks to digest, as well as pigs of more than 60 kg (132 lb).
Reticulated Pythons have increased in popularity within the pet trade and is due largely to increased efforts in captive breeding and selectively bred mutations, such as the "albino" and "tiger" strains. They can make good captives, but keepers should have previous experience with such large constrictors to ensure safety to both animal and keeper. Although their interactivity and beauty draws much attention, some feel they are unpredictable. Also, dwarf forms of reticulated pythons occur, typically separate subspecies of the nominate mainland subspecies or crossbreeds thereof, from some islands that are north west of Australia, and where the adults rarely get more than 15 feet (4.6 m) long but are being bred to be much smaller. Males can be at most 5 feet (1.5 m) long, females a little longer. On average, reticulated pythons live 15 to 20 years, with some individual snakes reaching 25 or even 30 years of age. The most important aspect of caging is that it must safely contain the snake. Tight-fitting racks or strong cages with locks are a must. Baby reticulated pythons can be kept in shoebox-sized cages or 10-gallon terrariums. Adult reticulated pythons can be housed in 2-foot-tall by 3-foot-wide by 6- to 8-foot-long cages. Occasional larger snakes may require a 3-foot-tall by 4-foot-wide by 10-foot-long enclosure.
Several locality-specific Dwarf retics have popped up on the breeding scene, offering an exciting opportunity to breed the designer morphs in a smaller size for easier keeping by most enthusiasts. The resulting Dwarf morphs are incredible. There are different varieties of Dwarf reticulated pythons that attain differing adult sizes, ranging from the smallest (called Super Dwarfs) that reach sizes of only 6 to 8 feet, for example, while others max out at 10 to 12 feet. If you’re considering purchasing a Dwarf retic, it’s important to know what kind of Dwarf it is and what percentage of Dwarf blood it has in order to estimate its eventual adult size. Ethics within the reptile trade dictate that a reticulated python must have at least 50-percent Dwarf blood to be labeled a Dwarf.
Reticulated Pythons reach their sexual maturity anywhere between 7 and 12 feet or in as little as 18 months for males. Females however take much longer and are often unwilling to breed until they reach the age of 4 or 5. It is recommended to stop all feeding a minimum of 2 weeks before this begins in order to get any previously undigested food out of the snake. Animals should have excellent weight and be established before any breeding is attempted. Retics can be cooled in the low 70's during autumn. This temperature drop is to be achieved gradually in order to reduce the stress on the snakes body and to avoid any respiratory infections. During this period it is an ideal time to reduce the daylight time they receive to around 9 hours in order to simulate natural winter daylight conditions.
After 4 - 5 weeks the male and female can be placed together at the cooler temperatures and mist the cage for a couple of weeks. This is done by adding the female to the males cage, as this simulates the female entering the males territory as she looks for a mate. There must never be another male in the same cage as they can and will fight causing injuries to each other that often lead to death. After the introduction you will hopefully observe some copulation. Copulation can sometimes occur only at night. After the 3 weeks the retics should be separated. In comparison to other pythons the copulation procedure is relatively short with breeding lasting under half an hour each time and only occurring 3 - 5 times. After 45-60 days (approx.) she will have a pre-lay shed. You then have a further month or so to wait to see what she will lay. Females will generally lay between 25-80 eggs but numbers above this have been recorded. This number is affected by the number of times she has been bred before, how old she is and how big she is.