The Burmese python (Python bivittatus) is a large nonvenomous snake native to Southern and Southeast Asia.
These snakes are one of the most popular of the large pythons, which may make you wonder:
Do Burmese Pythons Make Good Pets?
As a general rule, Burmese pythons make good pets thanks to their docile temperaments. However, their size and power means you need to have plenty of space and a very good idea how to care for snakes before you own one.
Temperament and Care
Out of the large pythons, Burmese pythons make the best pets thanks to a docile temperament.
They take to handling and care well so long as you treat them well from an early age. They can also be trained somewhat easily for a snake.
Generally, a good owner will train a young Burmese python to be calm while being handled, willingly climb onto their owner, and to take food slowly.
All of these make care easier once the snake is an adult.
Since these are large snakes that can easily injure or kill an adult human, you need to be consistent with training and care. These guys are very strong animals that should be not be under fed and kept hungry.
So long as these snakes are cared for well (see my complete burmese python care sheet here), they are calm and will either tolerate or even enjoy being around humans.
By making handling a positive experience early, a Burmese python will learn that handling is a good thing and will tolerate being moved for basic care tasks like enrichment, cleaning, and vet visits.
Teaching the snake to climb up willingly can prevent injury to an owner trying to lift a snake that weighs over 50 pounds.
Finally, taking prey slowly helps prevents accidental strikes while feeding, which is the most common cause of bites from tame snakes.
Burmese instinctively bite down when they hit potential prey and coil immediately. This can cause injury to a human if the snake misses the prey and hits your hand.
These are very gentle animals, but they are still animals and follow their instincts.
Who Should Own a Burmese Python
Thanks to their size and care requirements, anyone who wants to own a Burmese python needs to be prepared for these snakes.
First you must consider the size and growth rate of the animal. They hatch out at just under 2 feet, but within a year your snake is going to be around 6 feet long.
They will hit 10 in another year. Their growth rate tends to slow after this point, but they can still grow a foot a year until the snake reaches its adult size of between 12 and 18 feet long.
While most captive snakes stay on the smaller end, you need to be prepared in case your snake decides to be a giant.
Females tend to be longer, but large males have reached 16 feet. This snake will be around 70-130 pounds for a female and 30-70 pounds for a male.
This size means that you need to be prepared for housing a giant. The minimum size that an adult Burmese needs is 10 feet long by 6 feet in width and height.
This is for a snake on the smaller side, and 18 foot snake will likely need over 15 feet by 8 feet or larger.
Ideally, you should offer you snake a longer and wider enclosure to encourage exercise. These animals are prone to obesity, so encouraging your snake to exercise will help keep it healthy.
They are curious animals so you need to plan for enrichment like new sights and scents to keep your pet entertained. You also need very large and sturdy furnishings to allow your snake to hide and climb.
Since these are large snakes, you need to have a helper for any interaction with an adult snake. No matter how docile your pet is, snakes can be grumpy or hungry and hurt you.
Some of the worst injuries by pet snakes have been from an owner trying to care for a sick or injured snake and being bitten by a scared animal trying to defend itself.
You need a helper to assist and prevent serious injuries.
You also will need to feed much larger prey such as rabbits, quail, and chickens to these snakes.
You need to source these prey items for feeding either frozen or killed right before you offer it to you pet since all of these prey items can seriously harm or kill a Burmese python.
Generally speaking, taking care of a giant snake takes much more effort than a smaller species. If you cannot commit to all the care these animals need over their long lifespans, you shouldn’t get one.
These snakes are frequently given up by people who weren’t prepared to care for an animal that gets over 12 feet long. This never ends well for the snake since so few reptile keepers have the space needed for them.
These animals basically need a whole room to themselves, and they cannot be safely housed together. Only a snake expert should try to own one.
They are very rewarding animals, but only for the right owner.
Remember, the biggest part of pet ownership is understanding the care needs of the animal you are planning to own and committing to care for it for its entire lifespan.
When you buy an animal, you become its whole world. You are responsible for meeting its needs and keeping it healthy and thriving.
If you cannot offer the right care, it is best to pick a different species. Many areas also ban large snakes, so be sure you are allowed to own one or your pet may be confiscated and put down.
Burmese pythons are great pets for the right owner.
They are powerful animals that need large amounts of storage and specialized care.
If you want one, please take the time to think this through and make sure you are capable of this level of care before you commit to over 20 years of care.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.