Commonly referred to as the Children's python, Antaresia childreni was first identified in the 19th century by British zoologist John George Children. This snake is among the smallest in the Pythonidae family. Although it is a native of Australia, the Children's python is a popular pet snake around the world.
A Children's python bears a strong resemblance to the spotted python. Juvenile Children's pythons have a dark, spotted pattern along the length of their bodies, similar to that of a spotted python. As they get older, however, these markings disappear, and adults are usually a uniform rust or brown color.
These pythons are often considered to be the second smallest python species. Adults can grow up to about 3 feet (1 meter) long. The anthill python is usually a few inches shorter, on average. This is tiny compared to one of the longest snakes in the world, the reticulated python, which can grow to be 18 feet (6 meters) long on average.
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Along with its small size, this python's easy temperament makes it a very popular snake to keep as a pet. Most Children's pythons are pretty good natured, and they are usually quite easy to take care of. If they are cared for well, these types of pythons can live 30 years or more.
In general, a Children's python needs at least a 20-gallon aquarium or tank. Bedding in the tank can be newspaper, dried leaves, or wood shavings. Aspen and cypress shavings are typically the most popular types of wood shavings for these types of snakes. Regardless of the type of bedding used, it should be checked at least once every day to remove any feces. In addition to spot checking, the enclosure should also be cleaned and bedding should be replaced at least once a month, if not more often.
Clean, fresh water should also be provided every day, since many Children's pythons enjoy soaking in their water dishes. Not only does it provide something to drink, but it also helps raise the humidity in the tank. This helps slough off the dead skin when the snake is shedding.
Heating pads under the enclosure or heat lamps can help maintain the temperature within. Although they were once popular, heat rocks should be avoided, as they can possibly cause severe burns on the snake's belly. The temperature in a Children's python enclosure should be kept at around 90 degrees F (32 degrees C) on one side and 77 degrees F (25 degrees C) on the other. This allows the snake to move to a cooler temperature if it gets too hot and a warmer temperature if it gets too cool. Hiding spots made out of hollow logs or upside-down plastic containers should also be placed on both the warm side and cool side of the tank.
In the wild, these snakes are hunters, and their prey typically consists of small mammals, reptiles, and birds. When kept as a pet, they can be fed either frozen or live mice. Smaller juveniles may need to start with pinkie mice, which are hairless baby mice, but adults often eat adult mice.
The size of the mice usually depend on the size of the snake. In general, a Children's python's prey should be slightly larger than the snake is around, or 10% of its entire weight. Like most other pythons, these snakes may go a week or more without eating, and they should be handled as little as possible for a day or two after consuming a meal.