Reticulated pythonScientific Name Python reticulatus                     

Conservation Status Not evaluated

Appearance

Reticulated pythons are covered with an irregular pattern of spots and stripes. These are coloured light brown, yellow, dark brown and black. Typically an irregular diamond pattern runs along the back with small patterns down the edge. This pattern helps to camouflage them in their jungle home amongst the dead leaf matter and mud. A conspicuous line runs from the eye down to the jaw.

The reticulated python is the world’s longest snake. It may range in length from 1.5-6.5m (4.9-21.3ft) long. An average weight for this species is between 1 and 75kg (2.2 and 165.3lb).

Currently a reticulated python known as Medusa is accepted by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest snake on Earth.

Lifespan                                                                                  

In captivity reticulated pythons live for up to 25 years.

Diet

Reticulated pythons are carnivores. Prey changes with size. Smaller snakes focus on rodents while the larger specimens mostly feed upon civets, binturongs, primates and pigs. Some domestic animals such as chickens, cats and dogs are taken when they stray from their village. One has even been recorded taking a small sun bear.

When swallowing deer they are able to eat the antlers as well.

Being non-venomous this species constricts its prey to kill it. They are ambush hunters who lie in wait till prey wanders past them. This prey item is then seized in their coils and constricted. It will then be swallowed whole.

Habitat

Asia is the native home of the reticulated python. Here they can be found in India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and a number of Islands in the Indo-Australian Archipelago, the Philippines and the Nicobar Islands.

Here they inhabit rainforests, woodlands and nearby grasslands.  They need to live near water sources such as ponds, creeks and rivers.

Reproduction

Breeding takes place between September and March. As temperatures begin to decline they are encouraged to breed. Before breeding they put on weight so that they can fast over this period.

After mating the female lays 25-80 eggs which weigh over 250g. The mother python will sit on the eggs and shiver which helps to warm them up. They are incubated at 31-32oC (88-90oF).

After 88 days they will hatch. Young already measure 61cm (2ft) in length when they hatch.

Sexually maturity is based on size not age. Males will first breed when they are 7-9ft (2.1-2.75ft) long while females typically wait till 11ft (3.35) long.

Behavior

Reticulated pythons live a solitary lifestyle.

Quick facts

The reticulated portion of their name refers to the net-like pattern of their skin.

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