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Pythons: Pythonidae

Reticulated Python (python Reticulatus): Species Accounts

Physical characteristics: One of the largest snake species known, the reticulated python can reach as much as 33 feet (10.1 meters) long. Normally, however, adults are about 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 meters), although 20-foot (6.1-meter) individuals are often found. The snake has a beautifully patterned back of yellow, black, and brown.

Geographic range: Its range includes the Philippines and Indonesia, India's Nicobar Islands, and much of Southeast Asia.

Habitat: The reticulated python usually lives in or near freshwater swamps, rivers, and lakes, often making its home in thick or open forests, caves, or rocky areas.

One of the largest snake species known, the reticulated python can reach as much as 33 feet (10.1 meters) long. (Illustration by Brian Cressman. Reproduced by permission.)

Diet: Also known as the regal python, it eats many animals, including monkeys, rats and other rodents, dogs and cats, pigs, deer, lizards, and large birds. They will also kill and eat humans, although this is very rare.

Behavior and reproduction: This snake spends a good deal of its time either climbing in trees or swimming in the water. It tends to be more active at night, especially if it lives near people. It rests in hiding places, such as burrows made by other animals, or inside hollow logs. The reticulated python hunts by either sneaking up on an animal or by remaining still and letting the animal come to it. Large females can lay more than one hundred eggs at a time, while smaller females lay less than two dozen.

Each egg, which measures 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 centimeters) long, hatches into a 2- to 3-foot (61- to 91-centimeter) baby snake. The babies look like the adults. Once the young snakes reach their third or fourth year, they are old enough to start having babies of their own.

Reticulated pythons and people: People hunt this snake for its lovely skin, its meat, and for use in folk medicines. Some ranchers kill the snake because they are afraid it will eat their farm animals, while others destroy it because they worry it will eat their children or another person. In addition, the snakes are popular in the pet trade, although their large size soon makes them difficult to keep.

Conservation status: Reticulated pythons are not listed as endangered or threatened, but scientists know little about their numbers in the wild. ∎



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Web sites

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Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceDinosaurs, Snakes, and Other ReptilesPythons: Pythonidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Black-headed Python (aspidites Melanocephalus): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, PYTHONS AND PEOPLE