Everything for You to Know About Woma Python
Aspidites ramsayi, most commonly known as woma python, sand python or Ramsay’s python, is a snake endemic to Australia. Once, woma python is quite common all over Western Australia but sadly, the species has now become critically endangered in some regions of Australia.
Want to know more about this interesting snake species that is quickly becoming endangered? Read on and learn more about Aspidites ramsayi.
The Woma Python
Woma python was first described in 1882 by Australian Zoologist and Naturalist William John Macleay. It was named Aspidites ramsayi, and Aspidites meant “shield-bearer”, a nod to the large scales found on the head of the snake. On the other hand, ramsayi is after Edward Pierson Ramsay, the curator of the Australian Museum (1874 – 1894).
Compared to other species of python, the woma python is distinguished by its narrow head, which is barely noticeable from its neck.
Woma python is characterised for having smooth scales, small eyes, broad body and quire a thin tail. The species is coloured olive, brown, grey or red-brown, but some are found to be a darker olive brown and some even have black cross-bands.
Its sides are often paler with the underside coloured cream to yellow with brown or pink blotches. Just like its relative the black-headed python, this specie isn’t like other pythons as it doesn’t have heat sensitive pits bordering the mouth.
The specie is said to be subspecific to black-headed python as reflected by the historical taxonomic changes of woma python.
Woma Python Biology
The species of a woma python is nocturnal with diet made up mostly of terrestrial vertebrates like ground birds, small mammals and lizards.
Its preys are mostly animals in burrows where there isn’t enough room for the snake to coil around them. Instead, woma pushes a loop of its body against the prey and with that it crushes it to death against the side of the burrow.
On that note, you will find that many adult woma pythons are covered in scars because of rodents that retaliated seeing that its technique for catching preys doesn’t kill quickly like normal constriction. During the day, the woma python shelters in animal burrows, hollow logs or thick vegetation.
This snake prefers mostly spend their days out of sight and away from the sun’s scorching heat as well as any marauding predators.
The anatomy of a woma python is indicative of the dry and harsh environment to which it resides. This species is quite unique among pythons but it does have similar characteristics to other pythons as well.
Adult Woma Python
An adult woma python can reach to an adult size of 4 feet within only the first year. However, you are likely to find a smaller sized adult woma python as it’s more typical. An adult woma python can be bred as early as when they are 2 years old.
This python species is relatively small averaging less than 6 feet with most reaching only about 41/2 to 51/2 feet in length, overall.
On the other hand, some of the southern end of its range reaches lengths about 8 feet and weights 10 lbs and more. Woma pythons can generally live over 20 years.
Baby Woma Python
Just like all other pythons, woma python lays eggs and the mating season occurs from May to August. The snake can lay about 5 to 19 eggs between September and October.
After laying their eggs, the female woma coils around the eggs all throughout incubation period. About two to three months after, a young woma now emerges.
Woma Python Habitat
The woma python is distributed all over areas of west and east Australia and its particularly less solid compared to black-headed python. The species has become completely removed over most of its range from the south as well as east of southern Australia.
Currently, woma pythons are found mostly in areas in the extreme northwest. They can be found from Port Hedland to just further of Yarrie.
In the southwestern Australia, they can be found mostly along the coastal plain north of Geraldton. Also, woma pythons are found in the inland east of Kalgoorlie and south towards Perth.
They can also be found south of the Northern Territory. They ranges about north of Tennart Creek then south towards the northern part of South Australia.
Furthermore, woma python ranges towards Leigh Creek and in the New South Wales, in Broken Hill. The range of woma python also roughly extends to Queensland, in Toowdomba and to the north towards Mount Isa. Woma python range is quite diverse and throughout Australia.
Woma Python Care Sheet
Here are some things you need to know when it comes to caring to your woma python:
For the woma python babies, you can start out in putting them in enclosures as little as 10 to 15 gallons. As they grow, when they are about a year old, you can begin increasing the size of your baby woma python’s enclosure. A number of different kinds of enclosure can work for woma pythons, such as:
- Glass aquariums
- Snake racks
- Commercially-available, plastic reptile enclosures
When the woma is now adult, you can now increase the enclosure to at least 36 inches x 18 inches. It could be Exo Terra Large, Zilla 40 gallons or larger up to 48 inches x 24 inches (Zoo Med low boy). What you need to remember is that woma pythons are a little more active than other snakes. As such, it’s a good idea to get a larger enclosure.
If you choose a glass tank, you will want to include a humid hide – a hide where there’s some moss for humidity. Know as well that womas are escapist snakes.
With that being the case, make sure that the top of the enclosure is clipped or locked to prevent your woma python from accidentally getting out.
Another thing to consider for the housing of your woma is the bedding. There are many types of bedding you can use. The best looking and best working bedding are:
- Zoo Med eco earth
- Exo Terra (natural) sand
- Zoo Med aspen
When taking care of your woma, make sure that you spot clean the bedding every time thee python defecates. If the bedding you chose is sand, you have to make sure that you keep it thin to about 1/2 inch and don’t use calcium sand either. Calcium sand has a way of clamping the python’s gut and you don’t want that.
Cleaning the whole thing out should just at least be once a month. When you clean the housing, make sure the enclosure is disinfected and the bedding is changed as well.
You can simply wipe out Zoo Meds or you can use vinegar and water, both of these works great for cage cleaning.
LIGHTING AND HEAT
Woma pythons can be quite warm but needs to be cooled off when they want to. Just like all other reptiles, woma pythons depend on external thermoregulation for controlling their body temperature.
What this means is that your enclosure should be able to provide both hot and cool side. On that note, the entire lighting and heating elements of the enclosure should be located on one side.
Other elements will then be located on the other side which will be the cool side of the enclosure. With this, the snake will be able to move back and forth the different sides with different temperatures depending on what it needs. This way, it won’t be difficult for them to control their body temperature.
The enclosure’s hot side basking spot should be about 87 to 90 degrees. Put that one hide to another side then put another hide on the housing’s cool side.
The cool side has to be between 75 to 80 degrees which can drop down to 72 ambient temperature at night. It can also be a good idea for you to use a basking light and under heat pad for controlling the temperature of the enclosure.
Heat pads are mostly placed on the housing’s hot side covered by a hide. To give your snake added heat during the night, you can use Zoo Med heat mat or maybe an Exo Terra heat pad which can stay on for 24 hours, 7 days a week.
These heat pads are placed outside, underneath of the enclosure. The heat you want is only that which covers about half or less of the tank.
You can use Flukers and Exo Terra for housing the basking light. These are good quality light domes and ceramic housings that can tolerate high heat as well as with on and off switch.
Zoo Meds digital temperature gauge and Exo Terras Thermometer are good quality temperature gauges you can use for monitoring the temperature of the enclosure.
Apart from temperature gauges, using rheostat and/or timers are also good idea for easily controlling your heat source. Hot rocks are not highly recommended for heat source when housing woma python.
That’s because hot rocks have a tendency for heating unevenly when in too small of an area. With that, they can sometimes cause some serious burns.
In keeping the humidity of the enclosure, you can put a non-porous water bowl together in with the woma python. Make sure that the water bowl always contains clean water.
You can opt for water bowls that can be decorative as well like Exo Terra water bowls or Flukers or just simple a good ceramic crock dish.
To keep bacteria from building up, make sure to scrub the bowl at least once a week. Maintaining the humidity of the enclosure for about 50% will help the snake shed properly.
The woma pythons are good eaters. When you are going to feed your woma python, don’t handle it for several hours before. It is not recommended to feed the snake inside its own enclosure.
However, it doesn’t mean that feeding it its home will have it associate you with food or make it aggressive. Generally, womas are a species of python that are really docile.
Baby womas may be a bit nippy but with gentle handling, they usually grow out of this habit. Getting a good snake hook is a good idea if you are worried that your pet will associate you with food.
When you want to hold your pet, use the snake hook to get your snake out of its home. With this, the chances of you getting bit will be greatly reduced.
But if you don’t have a snake hook and worried about getting bit, you simply reach around and pick up the woma from behind instead of picking it from the front.
This way of picking up the snake will ensure that your hand is not coming at its face and be mistaken as food. This is the best way that you can ensure not to get bit.
Hatchlings to 2 years
For hatchlings up to 2 years old womas, 1 appropriately sized rodent once a week is enough. An appropriately sized rodent is one with the girth not exceeding 1 ½ the size of the snakes girth. Once the snake has eaten, make sure not to handle it for at least 24 hours.
Generally, snakes don’t eat whenever they are shedding. Until your snake completely sheds, wait before you feed it. You can feed you snakes that are more than 2 years anything every two weeks if you choose to. However, make sure that it is a decently sized meal.
Woma Python Facts
- The woma python’s head has dark scales around the eyes and the dorsal body is light brown, reddish brown or nearly black. The body is covered with dark bands while the lateral sides are pale. The belly is yellowish or creamy colored with pink or brown blotches.
- The woma python’s head is narrow and the eyes are small. Its body is broad and flat and is covered in smooth scales with thin tail.
- The woma python does not have heat-sensing pits.
- The woma python is nocturnal, meaning it is active at night.
- Woma pythons often hide under logs, in abandoned burrows or in thick vegetation in the day. It usually uses its head in order to dig burrows in the sand.
- Woma python would avoid contact with the ground as much as possible when moving in warm sand in order to avoid burns.
- The woma python is carnivore with its diet based mainly on mammals, reptiles and birds.
- The mating season takes place from May to August.
- The female starts to shiver in order to release additional heat when the eggs become cold. When the eggs hatch, the female leaves the nest and the baby womas are left on their own from the time of birth. Males sexually mature at age 1.5 years while females are between the second and the third year.
- The females would lay eggs from 5 – 19 often from September to October. The female woma curls around the eggs in order to provide heat for incubation. It takes about 2-3 months for the eggs to hatch.
- Foxes, mulga snakes and feral cats are the main predators of woma pythons.
- Woma pythons are constrictors. Most animals they hunt fight back so the woma’s body is often covered in scars.
- The woma python is non-venomous and non-aggressive which makes it really popular as an exotic pet.
- The woma python can live in captivity for up to 20 to 30 years.
Woma Python Temperament
Compared to other snakes, woma pythons are gentle snakes and have a rather good tolerance for being handled. This, plus the fact that they have nice feeding response, makes this specie of python quite a great pet.
Woma pythons are mostly friendly and very easy to care for. On that note, a few things to think about are in order when handling woma pythons.
For one, don’t forget to support the snake’s body whenever you hold your pet. When they realize that you are not a threat and will not hurt them, these snakes seem to enjoy or at least tolerate you handling them. When handling your pet, relax and give it time to get used to it. On that note, avoid touching the top of the snake’s head.
Snake owners are often surprised or scared of the fast movements of snakes. Such movement is called “head shy” and in the case of woma python, they often get over it simply with gentle handling. Give your woma pet about a day to get settled in its new home before you handle it.
Better start slow and then gradually increase the time you spend with the snake out. The snake’s life is in your hands so you have to properly take care of it.
Give your snake at least a day to settle in to its new home before handling. Start slow and gradually increase the amount of time you have your snake out. Remember your new pet’s life is in your hands. So please take care of it properly.