Royal Pythons are found in the wild in Western Africa, specifically in the regions of Ghana, Benin and Togo.
The weather is hot and tropical, and they mostly live hidden away in rodent burrows, coming out only when hungry and in search of a mate.
They are Agoraphobic, which means they are afraid of wide open spaces. If you put a Royal Python in to a large vivarium, that does not have enough cover, they will become stressed out, and anorexic. This can lead to the death of the snake through malnutrition, so this has to be considered carefully when planning an enclosure. They prefer dark, enclosed spaces and feel most secure if they feel that they can hide.
Some Royals will adapt to living in a vivarium, providing sufficient hiding places are provided. Some are more confident than others, it is just a matter of finding out what the Royal is most comfortable with!
We house most of our snakes in racking systems. All of our Royals feed fine in these, which is a good indication that they are comfortable!
We do not believe that this is the ‘right’ way, or the only way to do it. It is just the way we do it! We have a rapidly growing collection, so space is at a premium. This seems to be the most space effective solution for us, as well as providing a secure, easily cleaned habitat for our snakes.
Some of our strongest feeders have lived in vivariums in the past, and some hatchlings we have raised and sold have gone straight in to vivariums or even glass Exo-Terra vivariums, and carried on feeding without fail, against all expectations! So it does always depend on the individual snake in question. Some are outgoing and confident, some are shy and easily spooked.
They may not be visually pleasing, however Really Useful Boxes or similar are very easy to keep clean, and are easily disinfected.
Hatchling Royal Pythons are housed in 5l (5 litre) Really Useful Boxes. These provide plenty of room for a small Royal and a water bowl. It will even take a small hide, such as a toilet roll inner or a shop bought hide for the shyer snakes. For those kept in an enclosed rack, a hide is not always needed, as the whole tub does the job of keeping them in a secure enclosed space.
When they are approximately 500g or around a year old, we try them in a 9l RUB. From there they either go in to a 24.5l RUB or a 33l RUB. 33l RUBs have plenty of room for an adult female Royal, unless they turn out to be a large one! We have seen some reach around 4kg and more!
These are just guidelines. A Royal Python will always tell you if they are not happy in their surroundings: they will stop eating!
One example of this is one of our female normals. She looked cramped in her 9l RUB, so we moved her in to an 18l. She went from never missing a feed to refusing every one. We kept her in there for two months, hoping she would settle in. She continued to refuse her food. We put her back in the 9l RUB, offered her food the next day and she took it straight away! We tried again six months or so later, and she moved over successfully, and is now feeding happily in the larger tub.
They will always tell you when they are ready to move!