Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo’s featured animal for March is the largest snake here at the Zoo, the Reticulated Python! We sat down with Reptile Collections Manager, Clinton, to talk about these incredible animals, and answer some of the questions submitted by our Facebook and Instagram followers.

Before we get started talking about Reticulated Pythons, tell our readers a little about you!

My name is Clinton Szymanski and I am the Collections Manager here at the Zoo. I’ve worked with a variety of animals in my zoological career, but have a special passion for reptiles. I love that I get to work with such a diverse collection of them here.

How many reticulated pythons live at AWSFZ?

Right now we have five Reticulated Pythons that live at Animal World & Snake Farm Zoo, but Athena is the only one on exhibit at the moment. Athena is an albino Reticulated Python, which means she has no dark pigment, leaving her skin to be bright yellow and white. A normal or wild type Reticulated Python would be much darker and have black, brown, and green skin.

What does daily care look like for Athena?

Many people think that caring for snakes is super easy because they don’t need to eat everyday; however, there is a lot more to their care than just that. Every single day, our staff checks the temperature and humidity of her enclosure to make sure she is able to stay within a healthy range. Because these animals are ectotherms, they rely on us as caretakers to make sure they are able to stay at a comfortable body temperature. 

We also clean the enclosure to keep it free of any sheds or excrement. We feed her as necessary, and make sure she always has access to clean water.

What do Reticulated Pythons eat?

Here at the Zoo, our Reticulated Pythons eat appropriately sized frozen thawed rats or rabbits. In the wild, they would eat a variety of mammals, birds, and even other reptiles. Things like civets, binturong, siamang, pangolins, and deer just to name a few. There is even a record of one eating a sun bear!

What are some cool facts about Reticulated Pythons?

Reticulated Pythons are generally considered to be the longest species of snake. They typically lay anywhere from 15-80 eggs which they brood and protect through an incubation period of 90 days. The word “reticulated” refers to the net-like pattern exhibited by the wild type individuals. Several dwarf populations exist on small islands throughout their range which is a great example of island dwarfism. Overall, they are just an extremely interesting species of snake that are really cool to work with.

What’s your favorite thing about working with Reticulated Pythons?

My favorite thing about Reticulated Pythons is their intelligence. They seem to be smarter than a lot of the other large constrictors.

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