Animals / Reptiles

The African Rock Python

Синонимы и названия на других языках

Nördliche Felsenpython (German)


Order: squamata

Family: booidea

Genus: phyton

Species: Python sebae.


The African rock python is endemic to western Africa, to the south of the Sahara desert. It ca be found in savannahs and in tropical and subtropical forests. Also it lives on meadows, especially near rocks. It is usually found near the sources of water.

Since the African rock python likes damp area (it is often found in swamps), it is preferable to have a separate damp chamber for it. It can be filled with sphagnum and also serves as a hiding place for the snake.  

Внешний вид

This is one of the largest snake species in the world. The length of specimens can exceed 6 m, and sometimes they weigh over 100 kg. In captivity they seldom get that large, then they normally reach 4.5 m and weigh about 50 kg. This is the largest and the heaviest snake in Africa.

The African rock python has a slender body. It has a zigzag pattern on the back and dark spots on the sides. The back is gray-brown, the belly is yellowish. The python has a triangular dark spot on the head and a dark stripe that goes across the eyes. 

A lot of color morphs of the African rock python have been bred. 


The African rock python is a nocturnal species. It is an excellent climber and swimmer.

Normally it is a slow moving snake, but it attacks its prey vigorously.

It can stay without food for a long time.

The python has very sharp teeth, but it is not venomous.

Pythons born in captivity as a rule can get tame and become adequate pets.  

Содержание и уход

The African rock python needs a large horizontal enclosure, starting from 200x70x70 cm. It needs a hiding place which you can make yourself from a piece wood. For substrate you can use milled bark. You will also need a very big water bowl so that the python could get in it. The water has to be changed daily. You will also need an infra red heating lamp that has to be located not closer than 15 cm from the python’s body so it doesn’t get burnt. You can let the python out of the enclosure only under your observance.

The ambient temperature at daytime has to be within the range from 28 to 32°C at daytime and  22 and 24°C at night.

The air humidity has to be about 70%, so you’ll have to mist daily.

The python needs 12 hours of light a day. You should use an infra red lamp. 


It is important not to overfeed the python. It has to eat twice a month, 7-8 medium size rats each time with added vitamins and calcium supplements.

Young pythons have to be fed every 10 days. Limitations of food enable you to control the snake’s growth, but remember that if you feed it too rarely, it will be constantly hungry and can get aggressive when interacting with people.

On the other hand, if you feed the snake too often, it is bad for the snake too.

The African rock python is a very strong snake and you have to remember that. You should always follow safety rules when feeding your python. Never handle the snake after you have held a rodent, otherwise it can mistake your hand for food. 


The African rock python is a large and dangerous snake.

There have been reported cases when this species attacked and killed people.

Therefore it is not recommended to keep the python at home, especially if there are children in the family: the python will consider them to be food.

When you start taming, the snake will most probably be aggressive and bite of fear, so you will need gloves. Later it can learn to trust you and the aggression will stop. But in any case, never forget that it is a very powerful reptile and it should be treated accordingly.


If the snake refuses to eat, it can be caused by stress, unsuitable food, or it can happen that the snake just is not hungry.  You should not try and force the food into the snake: they can live without food for a long time without any damage for their health. You should only start worrying if your snake doesn’t eat for several months. Then you need to analyze its living conditions and the menu prior to this situation. In worst case you can try to force-feed the python.

The snake can vomit because of stress, illness or if the prey was too big. Also it can vomit if it was fed during shedding or if the temperature in its enclosure is not suitable. After vomiting you mustn’t feed the snake for 7-10 days, and then you can offer it food taking into account the previous mistakes.

Shedding is not a disease, it is a necessary step in the snake’s growth. Its eyes get milky, their color grows paler and the skin starts coming off. During this time you should be extra careful about the humidity and clean water in the enclosure.

Mites are small parasites that live on the snake’s skin. They stick on the snake’s body between the scales and suck its blood. This can make the snake lethargic and it can turn down the food.  To get rid of mites you need to use the weak solution of the same medicine which is used against ticks on cats and dogs. You will also have to disinfect the whole enclosure.

Respiratory diseases are usually caused by potentially pathogenic bacteria if the immune system of the snake doesn’t function properly either due to a stress or to unsuitable living conditions. The symptoms include gasping, open mouth, runny nose. These diseases are treated by the injections of antibiotic called Baytril


The African rock python is an egg-laying species. A female lays from 30 to 50 eggs which should be placed in the incubator. Hatchlings come out in 3 months’ time. They eat small rodents.  

The male python is sexually mature at the age of 18 months, and the female at the age of 4 years. Males can mate when they reach the length of 1.8 m, and females when they get 2.8 m and longer.  

For breeding the pythons have to be well adapted to captivity and be fit. The mating season usually lasts from November to March. During this time you shouldn’t feed the pythons.

Mating can be stimulated by lowering daytime temperature below 27 degrees and at night to 21 degree and decreasing the amount of hours of light to 8-10. The female has to be put into the male’s enclosure. Misting also stimulated mating.

Normally females shed 14-20 days after ovulation. Then approximately 30 days later it lays eggs.

Average life span is up to 25 years in captivity.

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