Darwin Carpet Python (Morelia spilota variegata)

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Darwin Carpet Python
Morelia spilota variegata
Darwin Carpet Python (Morelia spilota variegata)
Name Darwin Carpet Python
Name Lat. Morelia spilota variegata
Family Pythons
Family lat. Pythonidae
Order Scaled Reptiles
Order lat. Squamata
Origin Australia
Habitat Humid savanna
Diet Small mammals
Humidity 60-80 %
Behavior Nocturnal, ♂ territorial
Keeping Individual, pair, harem
Care Level Moderate
Reproduction Oviparous
Housing Semi-humid terrarium
Life Span 15-20 years
Protection CITES Appendix II; EU Annex B
Metric Units
Size 180-200 cm
Temperature 28-30 °C
Temperature Local 30-35 °C
Housing Size 150 x 100 x 200 cm
US Units
Size 71"-79"
Temperature 82-86 °F
Temperature Local 86-95 °F
Housing Size 60" x 40" x 80"

Distribution and habitat

The crepuscular and nocturnal, semi-arboricolous Darwin carpet pythons are found in the sparse forests and savannas of northern Australia to the edge of the desert. In the forests they prefer to live on trees, in the desert fringes mostly in rock caves.


Minimum dimensions for the terrarium, according to the size and number of animals:

1-2 animals 0,75KL x 0,5KL x 1KL (L x W x H)

Body length (KL) is measured on the largest animal. For each additional animal the floor space should be increased by 20%. A terrarium of e.g. L 150 x W 100 x H 200 cm is recommended, which should be placed in a quiet and vibration-free place.

They need a terrarium structured with roots, branched climbing branches and caves (hiding places and privacy screens), a moisture-retaining substrate, e.g. of bark mulch-soil-peat mixture, foliage and sphagnum moss, as well as a large, easy-to-clean water basin (approx. 1/4 of the floor area) for drinking and bathing. Half of the substrate must be kept slightly moist at all times. Once a day, preferably in the evening, the inside of the terrarium should be finely sprayed with water (humidity), but a rain or mist system is better.

Temp. day: 28-30 °C Temp. night: 22-24 °C Temp. local: up to 35 °C Humidity: 60-80

Thermostatically controlled floor heating is recommended. Lighting duration must be 12-14 hrs. depending on the season. Daylight fluorescent tubes are ideal.


According to their size, they feed on mice, rats, guinea pigs and other rodents, as well as chicks and small pigeons. After acclimation, they often succeed in switching to dead food animals. Juveniles should be offered food every 8-10 days and adults every 14-20 days, with occasional periods of fasting (e.g., skipping a feeding). If the snake is disturbed after feeding, this may result in vomiting of the prey. Generally, it is better to offer several small feeders, rather than one large one. If it does not eat for a long period of time, both the timing and the food should be varied. It is important to fortify the food animals with vitamins and minerals. Since the snake could be injured by live rodents, it should not be left unattended with them.

Reproduction and breeding

Probing by the veterinarian is the only reliable method of sex determination. The female lays 20-30 eggs and incubates them. The incubation period is 50-60 days at a temperature of about 30 °C. After the first molt (2-4 weeks), the 40-45 cm long young begin to feed (e.g. nest young mice)

Life expectancy can be 15-20 years.

Species protection

The animal population must be reported to the competent authority in writing immediately after the start of keeping. Your pet store will be happy to provide you with further information.

Protection of species: WA Appendix II; EU Appendix B. The proof of purchase is the required proof of origin for the animal. Please keep it safe!


Males are very territorial during the mating season, so only one male should be kept in the terrarium at a time

If the air temperature in the terrarium is lower than the temperature in the water tank, there is a risk of respiratory infection

A resting period of 2-3 months at a temperature reduced by 2-3 °C is recommended

Always have snake hooks, protective gloves and cold water ready when handling.

The terrarium must have good ventilation without drafts and meet the species-specific needs. Measuring devices such as thermometers, hygrometers, etc. are necessary. The lighting has to correspond to the species-specific day-night rhythm and has to be placed in such a way that the animals cannot injure themselves. The terrarium should be locked in such a way that neither unauthorized persons can open it nor the animals can escape. Contamination must be removed regularly

Further literature can be found in your pet store.


Text: Christian Sänger; Image: petdata

Source: BMELV (1997): Tierschutzgutachten - Mindestanforderung an die Haltung von Reptilien; ENGELMANN (2006): Zootierhaltung - Tiere in menschlicher Obhut: Reptilien und Amphibien, Harri Deutsch Verlag

  • Gemäß § 21 Abs. 5 Tierschutzgesetz idgF