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  1. #1
    Registered User Hugsplox's Avatar
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    Going from small to larger reptiles

    Good morning/afternoon/evening everyone!

    I thought I'd throw a few questions out and maybe get some interesting conversations going.

    For those of you who started small, like myself, with geckos, BPs, smaller turtles, etc etc. and moved onto larger snakes and other "large" reptiles, what did you find were some of the biggest challenges? What was the biggest adjustment that you had to make, and how, if at all, did it effect your care and feelings towards your smaller animals? On the flip side, was there anything about moving to larger reptiles that you found easier to deal with than the smaller guys?

    For me I think the biggest change was just enclosure size. I still don't have anything bigger than a ball python, but going from a juvenile leopard gecko (he'll get an upgrade when he's a tad bigger) to something that is going to eventually go in a 4 foot by 2 foot enclosure was a big change, just because of space. I've had to be really picky about what I bring home just because as mentioned in my previous posts, the wife makes me contain my hobby to my office, and we don't have much room left.

    I'd love to hear everyone else's thoughts and experiences as you progressed to larger, and in some cases more difficult to keep animals. I've seen several of you Morelia keepers say you wish you had started there instead of with smaller snakes, and I'd love to here why.

  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran jmcrook's Avatar
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    Re: Going from small to larger reptiles

    Great topic. I moved from having Royal Pythons and Corn Snakes to Super Dwarf retics about 4-5yrs ago and it was incredibly challenging to put it lightly. Mostly from a behavioral perspective but I won't get into that as myself and others have made lengthy threads on those animals here.

    Enclosure size is definitely a challenge, especially depending on the growth rate of the animals being considered. With manufacturers having up to a 6 month + lead time on enclosures that makes things even more challenging if you find yourself needing larger enclosures within a shorter time period. Few people have the foresight and ability to purchase enclosures 6-12 months before they are actually needed. Also situating temperatures requires a bit more problem solving depending on the overall dimensions of larger caging, the heating element being used, room temps, thermostat probe placement, etc. Once that's squared away it's fairly straight forward though. With all of the equipment and technology available to us nowadays there's a solution for just about any problem you could encounter. Much easier to deal with than heat bulbs and fish tanks that I started with 1/4 of a century ago.

    As for the animals themselves, I've just always been drawn to larger snakes and constrictors in general. I still love North American colubrids and other relatively smaller species but they just didn't fully scratch the itch for me. Having said that, colubrid poop is disgusting compared to python/boa poop in my experience. Retics have disgusting urine though, and piss about every other day in great quantities. Never again. This is an aspect of keeping that many don't know to consider before acquiring an animal. Some are more filthy than others but it can also vary among individuals and within a species. Drymarchon are off the table for me for bowel activity alone. "Poop cannons" is a term I have heard used to refer to them on more than one occasion.

    As for Morelia, I wish I'd have gotten them years and years ago. I became fascinated with them the first time I saw one at my buddy's shop in the early 2000s but was deterred from them when he told me his carpets bit him every chance they got. Got really close to getting Morelia again several years later when another shop had a clutch of Jungle carpets for sale. Told me the parents were 8' long and I felt that I couldn't give them the space they needed at that point in time. Soon after another friend offered my his Irian Jaya/Papuan Carpet Python, but I was preparing to move cross country for graduate school and didn't feel the time was right...

    Then became blinded by the light of Super Dwarf Retics and got a couple in 2016-2017. I wanted more of a challenge and a larger snake without being too huge. I got both of these things. To call them challenging did a disservice to that term. Both of mine were a behavioral nightmare, which is outlined in excruciating detail in past threads in the "Giant Pythons" forum. Not everyone has the issues that I did, and maybe I was just dealt the wrong hand. I will say that after raising two insanely wiley retics to 9-10' and 15-30lbs each, the idea of boas and carpet pythons sounded much more my speed.

    Upsides of Boas and Morelia for me:
    Boas are much slower growing and slower moving, eat less frequently, and as such, make far less frequent and less disgusting messes. Definite win for me over Retics. Slower growth rate also makes it easier to get accustomed to their increasing size as they grow with you.
    Carpets provide a more active handling animal that displays very well and has much of the appeal of larger constrictor species in a much more manageable size. They are also a very slender and athletically built snake, so at 7' they actually don't weigh much more than a big Royal Python, though they can get larger for sure. Bredli, Southern Locality Coastals, etc, can reach impressive sizes. Though there is no reason to think that every single snake on earth will meet the genetic maximums for their species. Just because one carpet python was recorded at 12-14' does not mean that is the general size of them. The giants are the exception to the rule and the average is more like 7', and slender at that.

    To sum up, I guess I just wish I had stuck to my guns with a desire for Morelia and Boas over the years. I don't regret having kept the Retics that I did, and I learned a ton from having kept them. I could have a do over, knowing what I know now, I'd have gotten carpets and boas instead.

    Good lord, that got into some lengthy rambling... Happy to elaborate on anything here you might have further questions about.
    Last edited by jmcrook; 12-16-2020 at 04:01 PM.

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  4. #3
    Registered User Hugsplox's Avatar
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    Re: Going from small to larger reptiles

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcrook View Post
    To sum up, I guess I just wish I had stuck to my guns with a desire for Morelia and Boas over the years. I don't regret having kept the Retics that I did, and I learned a ton from having kept them. I could have a do over, knowing what I know now, I'd have gotten carpets and boas instead.
    This is why I like reading your posts, you get the good with the bad instead of just the pros. I was kind of in the same boat as you about carpets and boas, but I was, I don't want to say turned off by the size, but I just didn't know that I was ready experience wise to jump straight to something that would be as long as I am tall. So instead I found a good breeder and went the BP route. A few months later and I got the itch that I'm sure every keeper gets, that "what's coming home next" itch. The plus side now, is that I'm aware of how long it takes to get enclosures, so I'll order prior to bringing something else home, the question though still, is what's next.

    Which was half the reason for this post, the other half just getting folks talking about something I thought would be interesting. I got bit too by the carpet bug when I went to a local reptile shop looking for décor for a bearded dragon enclosure, and this guy was perched on a branch. It was the most surreal experience, up to that point, in my reptile keeping "Career," because when those guys look at you, you can tell that they're looking at you and not just in your direction. I tend to research a lot before bringing anything home, which is a habit I picked up from keeping tropical fish for years, so I immediately went home and started reading into them, but again the size kinda made me step back and reevaluate if I was ready.

    A few years pass and I see my first red tail boa in person and I was struck again. So now I'm in this weird place trying to decide what route I want to go. I love my BP and would love to hobby breed later in life, but right now, the thought of caring for and being able to handle something a tab more active is very appealing. Plus let's be honest, you guys sell those carpets pretty well!

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    Room, land an money then time. Try livestock, a Hereford bull will tear your barn down, tear done your 29K+ fencing that’s bison proof an then wreck your truck because he can. Snakes an Gators are easy.

  7. #5
    Registered User Hugsplox's Avatar
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    Re: Going from small to larger reptiles

    Quote Originally Posted by 303_enfield View Post
    Room, land an money then time. Try livestock, a Hereford bull will tear your barn down, tear done your 29K+ fencing that’s bison proof an then wreck your truck because he can. Snakes an Gators are easy.
    Oh jeez I know, my extended family does horses and the amount of time and money that gets sunk into that makes me happy I chose reptiles and fish.

  8. #6
    BPnet Veteran jmcrook's Avatar
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    Re: Going from small to larger reptiles

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugsplox View Post
    This is why I like reading your posts, you get the good with the bad instead of just the pros. I was kind of in the same boat as you about carpets and boas, but I was, I don't want to say turned off by the size, but I just didn't know that I was ready experience wise to jump straight to something that would be as long as I am tall. So instead I found a good breeder and went the BP route. A few months later and I got the itch that I'm sure every keeper gets, that "what's coming home next" itch. The plus side now, is that I'm aware of how long it takes to get enclosures, so I'll order prior to bringing something else home, the question though still, is what's next.

    Which was half the reason for this post, the other half just getting folks talking about something I thought would be interesting. I got bit too by the carpet bug when I went to a local reptile shop looking for décor for a bearded dragon enclosure, and this guy was perched on a branch. It was the most surreal experience, up to that point, in my reptile keeping "Career," because when those guys look at you, you can tell that they're looking at you and not just in your direction. I tend to research a lot before bringing anything home, which is a habit I picked up from keeping tropical fish for years, so I immediately went home and started reading into them, but again the size kinda made me step back and reevaluate if I was ready.

    A few years pass and I see my first red tail boa in person and I was struck again. So now I'm in this weird place trying to decide what route I want to go. I love my BP and would love to hobby breed later in life, but right now, the thought of caring for and being able to handle something a tab more active is very appealing. Plus let's be honest, you guys sell those carpets pretty well!
    While hard to quantify snake "intelligence", as you said there is definitely some noticeable activity going on between the eyes of Morelia when they look at you compared to other more commonly kept species. My retics were the same way.

    If you're looking for a more active handling experience than Royal Pythons, I'd give the edge to Morelia. Calm and slow, easy handling goes to my boas. The heft of the boas gives me a bit more of the "large constrictor" appealing qualities though.

    The semi arboreal qualities of Morelia are super interesting to observe too. Though my argentine boa has been on her shelf and perch stalking the floor for over a month now, save for one day when she came down to the floor to relieve herself. Very different sort of arboreal activity compared to my carpets though. The carpets are much more nimble and light/swift on their feet if you will.

    You mentioned being tight on space to expand your collection. Stacking enclosures is a great way to get around that. If you're already going to be having one 4x2' enclosure you could make a small stack and have 2-3 tall without taking away any additional floor space in your office.

  9. #7
    Registered User Hugsplox's Avatar
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    Re: Going from small to larger reptiles

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcrook View Post
    While hard to quantify snake "intelligence", as you said there is definitely some noticeable activity going on between the eyes of Morelia when they look at you compared to other more commonly kept species. My retics were the same way.

    If you're looking for a more active handling experience than Royal Pythons, I'd give the edge to Morelia. Calm and slow, easy handling goes to my boas. The heft of the boas gives me a bit more of the "large constrictor" appealing qualities though.

    The semi arboreal qualities of Morelia are super interesting to observe too. Though my argentine boa has been on her shelf and perch stalking the floor for over a month now, save for one day when she came down to the floor to relieve herself. Very different sort of arboreal activity compared to my carpets though. The carpets are much more nimble and light/swift on their feet if you will.

    You mentioned being tight on space to expand your collection. Stacking enclosures is a great way to get around that. If you're already going to be having one 4x2' enclosure you could make a small stack and have 2-3 tall without taking away any additional floor space in your office.
    I definitely looked at stacking enclosures and that'll be the route I go because while I don't have much floor space, I have reasonably high ceilings, so I could put 3-4 AP enclosures on one wall and not have any issues. It's down the road though, like I said I want to decide what species, order the enclosure, get it here, then start looking for the animal.

    I like the idea of the size of the boas, and that they move a little slower especially as it would be my first "big" snake, but the more and more I read, and the more I listen to people who keep them, the more appealing Morelias sound. Either way, it's going to be later in 2021, for one because of lead times on the AP enclosures, and two, because I'll go 6 months trying to figure out what I want before going either way lol.

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  11. #8
    BPnet Veteran jmcrook's Avatar
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    Re: Going from small to larger reptiles

    Quote Originally Posted by Hugsplox View Post
    I definitely looked at stacking enclosures and that'll be the route I go because while I don't have much floor space, I have reasonably high ceilings, so I could put 3-4 AP enclosures on one wall and not have any issues. It's down the road though, like I said I want to decide what species, order the enclosure, get it here, then start looking for the animal.

    I like the idea of the size of the boas, and that they move a little slower especially as it would be my first "big" snake, but the more and more I read, and the more I listen to people who keep them, the more appealing Morelias sound. Either way, it's going to be later in 2021, for one because of lead times on the AP enclosures, and two, because I'll go 6 months trying to figure out what I want before going either way lol.
    Good on you for thinking well ahead and doing the research needed prior to acquiring new animals. I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of The MORE Complete Boa Constrictor by Vincent Russo for some in depth reading on their their care and natural history. The Complete Carpet Python is currently out of print and commands a high price, but the authors, Nick Mutton and Justin Julander are working on The MORE Complete Carpet Python as we speak with an anticipated release date hopefully in early 2021.

    I'm honestly hard pressed to recommend one over the other, as both have very different and very appealing qualities for a variety of different reasons. I say get one of each and find out why firsthand.
    Last edited by jmcrook; 12-16-2020 at 05:39 PM.

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    Registered User Gocntry's Avatar
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    Re: Going from small to larger reptiles

    Quote Originally Posted by jmcrook View Post
    Having said that, colubrid poop is disgusting compared to python/boa poop in my experience.
    I have all 3 and have the same experience and agree 100%

    My Boa and BP's are also good about not going to the bathroom when their out.... My Corn .....

    I'm not getting him out until he uses the bathroom after feeding day, You get him out before and it's all bets off on whether you get pooped on or not.

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  14. #10
    BPnet Senior Member EL-Ziggy's Avatar
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    Re: Going from small to larger reptiles

    I started out with BPs and kingsnakes. BPs were kinda boring to me. The kings were great but I soon realized I preferred working with larger snakes. The biggest challenges for me were enclosure sizes and just knowing the risks that come from working with larger critters. There’s a big difference between getting tagged by a 4ft kingsnake and an 8ft scrub python. That’s why carpets and boas are perfect snakes to keep. They’re decent sized snakes but still pretty manageable to handle.
    3.2 Carpet Pythons, 1.1 Bullsnakes
    1.0 Olive Python 1.0 Scrub Python,
    1.0 BI, 0.1 BO,

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