KINGDOM: Animalia (Animals)
PHYLUM: Chordata (Possessing a notochord)
CLASS: Reptilia (Reptiles)
ORDER: Squamata (Scaled reptiles)
FAMILY: Pythonidae (Pythons)
SUB-FAMILY: Pythoninae (Pythons)
GENUS: Python (Pythons)
SPECIES: Python bivittatus (Burmese python)
Burmese pythons are native to Southern and Southeast Asia. They can be found in Eastern India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Western Bhutan, Southeast Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Northern continental Malaysia, Southern China and in Indonesia on Java, Southern Sulawesi, Bali and Sumbawa.
Burmese pythons are big pythons of large girth, with dark-colored skin, which have lighter brown blotches (resembling the lighter parts of a giraffe’s skin) bordered in black down the back. The underside is a lighter, creamy colour. Albino burmese pythons (with yellow colouring) are very popular in zoos and as pets. These pythons average about 3.7m and 90kg, with females being mostly larger than males. Burmese pythons are not venomous.
Burmese pythons prefer rainforest habitats. They usually live near water and will inhabit grasslands, marshes, swamps, rocky foothills, woodlands, river valleys and jungles with open clearings.
Burmese pythons are carnivores (meat eaters). They will mostly eat small mammals and birds. Pythons are ambush predators and after grabbing their prey using their teeth, they will suffocate it by wrapping themselves around it and constricting their muscles until it can’t breathe.
The Burmese python is a solitary animal and are generally only seen together in the mating season. These snakes aren’t territorial (although they tend to stay in one area).
Burmese pythons are polygynandrous (males and females will both have several mates). Males find females by following a scent trail. Males will also compete for females by wrestling or dancing. These combats may last for several hours and one male tries to force the other down. Females will lay a clutch of 20-60 eggs, which hatch in approximately 60-80 days. Females will protect their eggs and incubate them by coiling around the eggs and contracting her muscles to keep them warm.
Baby Burmese pythons are independent from hatching. Sexual maturity is reached at about 3 years of age. They can live for more than 20 years!
Because of their size, burmese pythons’ predators are humans and alligators. Young burmese pythons may also be taken by monitor lizards, eagles, king cobras and honey badgers.
Threats to the burmese python include: habitat depletion, continued demand for Burmese pythons in the pet trade, and hunting for their skins and flesh.
Did you know?
- Burmese pythons are known to be excellent swimmers, and can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes at a time
- They have poor eyesight, and stalk prey using chemical receptors in their tongues and heat-sensors along the jaws
- Snakes can pick up sound and vibrations through their whole bodies
- Snakes sense odours by flicking their tongues and a special organ in their mouth. They also detect odours with their nose