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Irene Nowak Snake / Python Breeder

Irene Nowak
ABobs Farm
New South Wales 2316
M0422 323 724
I have had many years of keeping and breeding Pythons including Womas, Roughscales, Albinos and Jungles. Currently breeding children's Pythons.


Around the year of 1984 my daughter had her first snake at the age of 11 years old. It was a diamond python. Being of the older generating I grew up fearing snakes and having a mature snake in the house was quite a challenge for me to reconcile with. Although fearful, I was fascinated by the way my daughter handled and treated this snake like a puppy dog. She would let it roam around the room and sit in the rafters and would make it sneak up on me while I was in the Kitchen just to see my reaction. It took me a whole year with this snake in the house to stop have the hair on the back of my neck stand on end every time the snake was out. I remember one day the snake getting out of its enclosure and was climbing on the fence outside the house….This was a challenge I was not going take…… I rang my daughters school to get her to come home and retrieve the snake while I made sure I did not lose sight of it.

This is how our passion for snakes began. My daughter has been keeping and breeding snakes since 1984 and now has a great collection.

My passion for keeping snakes myself started in 2008. I sold my house in Sydney and moved to the Central coast. I am fascinated by them but still have some fear of them. I have since moved off the Central Coast and now live in the Port Stephans area and keep mainly smaller snakes like the Childrens pythons and the Spotted Python,and dwarf banded pygmy Stimsons. The only big snakes I have is one beautiful albino Darwin python and 2 Sunglow carpets.

I would like to talk about my observations of snakes since I have been keeping them. I do not profess to be an expert in the field of keeping and breeding snakes. However I have raised and bred snakes successfully on a small scale over the past 10 years using my own methods and this is what I would like to share with you.

I started my snake collection with the bigger varieties of Pythons, like the Jungle python, Rough Scale Python Womas and Bredli. I purchased all my snakes as hatchlings. My observation of my hatchlings was that they do not like to be handled on a daily basis…I did not handle my snakes often. Even as hatchlings you can tell if they are going to have a friendly nature or be timid or be aggressive. I have found as they mature they usually become quite and easy to handle if they have been living in a quite constant routine and well fed.

For the heating in the enclosures enclosures for hatchling snakes I used heat cord, taped with aluminium tape to a small board and put under one corner of each enclosure. Not inside the enclosure. The heat cord is attached to a thermostat with the thermostat probe in the enclosure sitting on the mat above the heat cord with the temperature set at 30 degrees. …. I usually set up only one thermostat to regulate a number of enclosures if they are all the same size. Also one long heat cord will heat a number of enclosures. I do not like to use ceramic or heat globes for heating but do use LED globes sometimes for extra light in the enclosures. I raised all my pythons using this method and never had any problems. I did use heat mats under the enclosures in the past until one heat mat exploded under an enclosure and nearly burnt the enclosure…lucky I was home at the time to switch it off.

I found that snakes a creatures of habit. They love to find a favourite spot or hide and once they fins it is difficult to change this behaviour. To make the snake feel safe in its environment you need to have some understanding of its natural habitat. Some like to hide it tight spaces, like Womas, others like to sit up high on branches like the Jungle Pythons. I give them an option of both and they soon decide where they want to sleep. I place hides at the cool end and at the hot end as it gives them an opportunity to decide where they want to be according to their body temperature and still be in a safe hiding place. These small measures helps to make the snake feel safe in its environment. I started making hides from very small cardboard boxes and found that the lower they were the more the hatchlings liked them. I made small wooden boxes also. I never used plastic hides. The plastic seems to heat up a lot in the enclosure. However, having said that, PVC piping LlDS make excellent hides after you cut a hole in the side of the lid. They are round and not too high and comfortable for the snakes to curl up in. I use a lot of these now in different sizes depending on the size of the snake. They are also made of a heavy plastic and do not move when the snakes moves in and out of them and can be easily cleaned. My snakes like a tight fit.

I use canvas mating or very thin smooth pile mating ( like marine carpet ) as a substrate in all my enclosure for my snakes. I find that the mating helps to distribute the heat in the hot spot especially if the bottom of the enclosure or tub is plastic. I also use paper towels scatted on top of the mats especially under their hides and water dishes to help with cleaning. I do not use matting that is rubber backed as it does not allow the heat to penetrate through it from under the enclosure.

I have used Aspen Snake bedding in the past, however as I fed all my snake in their enclosure I was not happy with the fact that they would sometime eat the wood chips with their meal as the wood chips would stick to the wet defrosted pinky mouse or rat. I do use Aspen snake bedding in the boxes of the larger snakes where it is contained.

I fed my snakes at night. They get use to this routine and do not react to me during the day when I am cleaning their enclosure or changing their water. If I see a snake moving around during the day there is usually a reason….. Can be that it is hungrier than usual, it may have missed a meal due to shedding, or that it has soiled its box or hide and will not use it until it is cleaned or the snake is too hot or too cold. If I see a snake sitting in its water bowl for extended periods this also need to be investigated.

As the hatchling snakes grow and are moved into larger enclosures I change the way the enclosures are heated. I use a heat element called a Dryzone. It is manufactured to be used in clothes closets to stop mould growing especially on leather goods. I have designed a wooden stand to enable me to screw the heat element to the underside of the stand around a hand span from the floor which is high enough for the snake not to be able to reach it. The snake can then either sit underneath the stand and warm its back or it can sit on top of the wooden stand to warm its belly. This has worked well for me for over 10 years so I have not changed this method or design. These heat elements are fully enclosed in metal and do not reach excessive heat like some heat mats. I do have them attached to a thermostat.

In the last couple of years until 2018 I have my 3 large snake and mainly Childrens pythons. I bought my first Childrens python from a family that had had her for 2 years. They had handled her every day since they had her as this is what they were told to do when they purchased her. She was only fed weaner mice and was very small. In the first year I had her I did not handle her at all as I could tell she was not comfortable being held although she was friendly ( I only took her out when I cleaned her cage) I fed her larger feeds and did not change anything in her enclosure for two years (apart from cleaning and changing mats) She is a patternless Children python and has bred for me in the last few years with a T+ male. Since she has been moved into a larger enclosure and had new hides and boxes she still sleeps in the original box I gave her when I first bought her and will not use any of the other ones except to climb over them during he night time exercise.

I fell in love with Childrens pythons after having this wonderful girl and am now keeping and breeding Marbles and hets and in the future hope to breed some albino spotted Pythons from my Het pair. I would prefer to have the smaller snakes and they are kept in snake racks with the tub size of 900 x 500 mm with very thin marine carpet in each tub and have installed clear windows in the front of each tub so the snakes can see out and I can see in to see what the snake is doing without having to slide the tub out.

All my snake are hand tame without constant handling. none of them strike at me when I open the tubs or try to climb away….. unless I turn my back for more than 2 mins and they are off to explore greener pastures. I have one beautiful T+ male that gets out of his enclosure on occasions (he is not in a tub) when I leave the door of his enclosure open by mistake. If I go into the reptile room at night and have not noticed that he is roaming about he comes up and nudges me to let me know he is out and ready for a feed. How could you not love this snake … or any snake for that matter.

I have found that you cannot keep snakes for this long without have them escape out of their enclosure at some time or other and trying to find them is a nightmare. 2 months is the longest time I have not be able to find my 12 month old Albino Darwin. One night, after I had given up on ever finding him, I was in my detached garage and there he was, right at my feet, just disappearing into a shelf….. I was under the impression my reptile room was snake proof. Another time I found my hatchling Rough Scale python on a side gate at dust as I was preparing to go to the store. It had been missing for 3 weeks. I recently had be very large albino python roaming free in my reptile room and could not find it to put it back into its enclosure. Such a big 6 foot snake… where could it hide. This snake can eat a rabbit not problem and as I have 4 little dogs the size of rabbits I was more than anxious to find it. I searched for it all day and then decided night time was the best time to find him….. grabbed my torch and was about to enter the reptile room from the outside and spotted my big boy staring out though the large glass sliding door of the reptile room at my little dog KoKo. At least the Albino was on the other side of the glass. I was so pleased to fine him. He still gets to roam around the reptile room under supervision only. My advise to anyone that has an escaped snake is to not bother looking for it during the day. Hatchlings are difficult to find and not all can be recovered. Prevention is better than the cure for especially for hatchlings. I recently had a small hatchling escape from its tub and was missing in the reptile room for 2 weeks. I found it in the enclosure with my very large Sunglow Carpet. My advice to anyone reading this is when to let your snake out and about, either in a room or outside, no matter what age, never take your eyes off them or be distracted my your phone.

When I started hatching baby snakes I was not aware of the time and effort that is needed to feed them. I have found that trying to feed baby snakes (especially their first feed) is stressful and very time consuming and can be costly as you throw away uneaten pinky mice.

I have not bred a lot of baby snakes over the past few years, however I have had great success raising the ones that do hatch with no deaths or feeding problems. I found the secret to not wasting any pinky mice was to only defrost a few at a time until you establish how many are eating well on a regular basis.

Baby snakes can be really fussy with the temperature of their food. I have found that this is the main cause of them rejecting their food. I defrost the pinkies on a dinner plate sitting on a container with hot water in it. (not boiling water) I find that if you do not get the pinkies wet the smell stays on them and when the pinkies are defrosted in this way they are soft and limp and not rubbery and stiff like the ones defrosted in warm water. Before I feed the hatchling I test the temperature by putting one of the pinkies on the inside of my wrist.. it should be very warm ..not hot.

I offer my baby snakes food in the week they hatch. I have been told that you should wait until they have their first shed however I have not done this. The day they hatch I put them in seperate tubs and give them a place to hide, I observe them each night, if I see one out of its hide roaming around I offer food, if they are in their hides I do not disturb them. It does not take long for them to seek food and come looking for it. I usually have the whole clutch of 16 babies eating within 3 weeks…. and shedding along the way.

This has been the case for my so far, however with a few extra clutches this season it will be a test on my part to see if my great success in feeding all my hatchling snakes in a few weeks is going to be successful.

I am fortunate now to be retired and able to dedicate all the time I need to keep and breed reptiles successfully.

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