Olive pythons, the gentle giants
Updated: Jan 11, 2022
Keeping the Olive python
NATURE 4 YOU – Tie and Scott Eipper
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We at Nature 4 You do not endorse the keeping of large pythons without suitable experience, and only when you have the appropriate permits and facilities to care for the animal properly. A large snake should never be handled alone.
COMMON NAMES: Olive python
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Liasis olivaceus olivaceus
PRONUNCIATION: lee-ah-sis ol-iv-ah-say-us
ETYMOLOGY: Liasis - possibly from 'lias', a type of blue limestone, olivacues - olive-coloured liasis
ADULT SIZE: 450+cms
ADULT WEIGHT: up to 20kg
LIFE EXPENTANCY: 40+ years in captivity if cared for well.
The Olive python is native to Australia, found in the northern parts of Australia - Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia. Olive pythons are a large terrestrial and semi-arboreal python, predominately found in open woodlands, savannah, rocky hillsides, swamps and river edges. Occasionally Olive pythons are found in houses. Olive pythons are ambush predators, preying on mammals, reptiles, bats and birds in the wild, and are occasionally found in outdoor bird aviaries/guinea pig and rabbit hutches. Olive pythons are primarily nocturnal but have been seen basking during the day in the cooler months. Olive pythons have a long, robust body form. The only species surpassing them in size are Oenpelli pythons and Scrub pythons. Olive pythons very in colour from dark grey to olive to dark brown with a cream to yellow underneath. The lips are also a creamy colour. Olive pythons are not overly commonly encountered in the wild but are extremely common in captivity. As juveniles Olive pythons can be quite snappy, but by the age of about 2, they generally settle down to become an extremely rewarding python to keep.
A single Olive python needs a terrestrial enclosure about 600mm wide X 1500mm long X 600mm High. The bigger the enclosure, the better. The housing of juveniles is best done by housing them in plastic style enclosures with ventilation holes either drilled or melted with a soldiering iron. This plastic tub can be placed inside the larger enclosure. Plastic tubs are often utilised for small snakes as they are cheap, easy to clean and seal very well. This is important as a small snake can escape through very small gaps, which are often present in timber enclosures. Juveniles can be kept in smaller conditions but should be kept by themselves. Cage-mates can turn on each other. We house our juveniles singularly in plastic tubs. These tubs have clips on the side to lock the lids in place, are readily available and easy to modify. We start our hatchling Olive pythons in 7L tubs measuring 32cms L x 21cms W x 12cms H and move them up to appropriately sized caging as they grow. We use paper towel on the bottom of these tubs as it is easy to clean - simply remove the soiled paper towel and replace with new.