Burmese Python

The Burmese python (Python bivittatus) is known as one of the largest snake species. It is endemic to Southeast Asia.

Until 2009, it was classified as a subspecies of Python molurus but is now recognised as a different species.

The Burmese python has recently been listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable, due to the recent decline in the total population.

Table of Contents

Scientific classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
SuborderSerpentes
FamilyPythonidae
GenusPython
Scientific NamePython bivittatus

Characteristics

The Burmese python is a dark-coloured snake with many brown patches bordered in black down the back. In the wild, they usually grow to 16 ft (5 m), while specimens of more than 23 ft (7 m) are rare.

This species is known to be sexually dimorphic, with females being slightly longer, heavier, and bulkier than males.

For instance, length and weight comparisons in captive female Burmese pythons have shown: at 11 ft 5 in (3.47 m) length, a specimen weighed 64 lb (29 kg), a specimen of just over 13 ft (4 m) weighed 79 lb (36 kg), a specimen of 15 ft (4.5 m) weighed 88 lb (40 kg), and a specimen of 16 ft (5 m) weighed 165 lb (75 kg).

While the length and weight comparisons for males found: a specimen of 9 ft 2 in (2.8 m) weighed 26 lb (12 kg), 9 ft 9 in (2.97 m) weighed 32 lb (14.5 kg), a specimen of 9.8 ft (3 m) weighed 15 lb (7 kg), and a species of 10.0 ft (3.05 m) weighed 41 lb (18.5 kg), a specimen of 9 ft 9 in (2.97 m) weighed 32 lb (14.5 kg), a specimen of 9.8 ft (3 m) weighed 15 lb (7 kg), and a specimen of 10.0 ft (3.05 m) weighed 41 lb (18.5 kg).

Generally, individuals over 16 ft (5 m) are rare. A female held the record for the maximum length of a Burmese python for 27 years at Serpent Safari. Her actual length was determined after death to be 18 ft 10 in (5.74 m).

She also weighed 403 lb (182 kg). The minimum size for an adult is 7 ft 9 in (2.35 metres). Dwarf forms have been spotted on Bali, Java, and Sulawesi, with an average length of 6 ft 7 in (2 m) in Bali, and a maximum of 8 ft 2 in (2.5 m) on Sulawesi.

Wild specimens average 12 ft (3.7 m) long but have been known to reach 18 ft 10 in (5.74 m).

Behaviour

Burmese Python
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Burmese pythons are primarily nocturnal rainforest dwellers. They are equally at home in trees and on the ground when young, but they prefer to limit much of their movements to the ground as they develop girth.

They are great swimmers as well, being able to remain underwater for up to half an hour.

Indian pythons may brumate for some months in the northern parts of its range during the cold season in a hole in the riverbank, a hollow tree, or under rocks.

Brumation is different biologically from hibernation. While the behaviour has similar advantages, primarily to survive the winter without moving, it also requires preparation for the coming breeding season for both male and female reproductive organs. Brumation also occurs in the Florida population.

They are often sold as pets and are made popular by their easy-going nature and their attractive colouration.

They prefer to be a solitary species and are typically found in pairs only when mating. In the early spring, Burmese pythons breed, with females laying clutches of 12 to 36 eggs in March or April.

Until the eggs hatch, the female stays with them, wrapping around them and twitching her muscles in such a way that the air temperature around the eggs rises by several degrees.

Newly hatched babies sometimes stay inside their eggs until they are able to complete their first skin shedding, and also hunt for their first meal.

Variation

The Burmese python is often captive-bred for pattern, colour, and size. The most popular and widely available form is the albino morph.

They are white with patterns in burnt orange and butterscotch. There are also specimens with a maze-like pattern, khaki-coloured green, and granite.

Early reports showed that dwarf Burmese pythons have somewhat different colouring and pattern from the relatives and do not grow over 6 ft 11 in (2.1 m) in length.

The caramel Burmese python is known to have camarel-coloured with milk-chocolate eyes.

Diet

Similar to all snakes, the Burmese python is carnivorous. Its diet consists mainly of mammals and birds that are appropriately sized.

To capture its prey, the snake uses its sharp, rearward-pointing teeth, then wraps its body around the prey, contracting its muscles at the same time, killing the prey through constriction.

Due to the presence of mice, rats, and other vermin as a food source, it is sometimes located close to human habitation. Its equal affinity with domesticated birds and mammals suggests that it is sometimes regarded as a pest.

Its diet in captivity consists primarily of suitably sized rats that are commercially available, graduating to larger prey such as rabbits and poultry as it grows.

In Florida, where they are known as an invasive species, unusually large pythons can also need larger food items such as pigs or goats and are known to have attacked and eaten alligators and adult deer.

Habitat and distribution

The Burmese python can be found throughout Southeast and Southern Asia, including southern-eastern Nepal, eastern India, southeastern Bangladesh, western Bhutan, Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Hainan, Guangdong, Yunnan, and Guangxi.

It also occurs in Indonesia (southern Sulawesi, Java, Sumbawa, and Bali) and Hong Kong. They are frequently found near swamps and marshes and are often semiaquatic.

It inhabits marshes, grasslands, rocky foothills, swamps, river valleys, woodlands, and jungles with open clearing.

Source(s)

Burmese Python
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