Arctic Hare
Photo 72919930 © Catherine Ekkelboom White - Dreamstime.com

Scientific Name

Python reticulatus

Classification

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassMammalia
OrderSquamata
FamilyPythonidae
GenusPython
Speciesreticulatus

IUCN Redlist Status

Least Concern

Location

Reticulated pythons can be found throughout southeast Asia. They inhabit all of the countries from India to Vietnam on mainland Asia. Reticulated pythons can also be found on islands and island chains in the seas of southeast Asia. Some of the islands that they are found on are Borneo, Sumatra, Java and the Philippines archipelago.

Habitat

They inhabit the humid, moist, tropical rainforests of southeast Asia. They are usually found near sources of water such as ponds, streams and rivers. Reticulated pythons spend much of their lives in the trees, but can also be found in the water.

Diet

Reticulated pythons mostly feed on smaller mammals. These small mammals include rats and monkeys. Reticulated pythons can also take larger mammals such as pigs or small deer. There are reports of attacks on humans but many of those reports are unsubstantiated. Sadly, some of them are true.

Size

Reticulated pythons are the longest snakes in the world, some of which measure over 30 feet. Most grow to sizes of 15 - 25 feet. They are not, however, the heaviest snakes. The green anacondas of South America, their distant cousins, are the heaviest of all snakes.

Description

The word "reticulated", according to Merriam-Webster, means to divide, mark, or construct so as to form a network. Reticulated pythons have a network of irregular patterns, spots, shapes and colors on their skin which forms excellent camoflauge. Up close, these colors may include tan, yellow, gold, brown and dark brown. Some of the shapes may resemble diamond-like structures with large spots that fill the interior. From even a short distance, reticulated pythons begin to take on a muddy appearance and it becomes difficult to distinguish the shapes or colors. Their camoflauge makes them well suited to lying on a forest floor with dead leaf matter and mud, hiding in trees or on tree branches, or waiting in mud near a river bank.

Reticulated pythons, like anacondas and boa contrictors, are not venomous, and do not kill their prey with bites alone. Rather, they will bite their prey and then wrap their massive bodies around the prey. As their prey is exhaling, these pythons will squeeze their bodies tighter around their prey's lungs eventually causing suffocation. This process is called constriction. After this constriction process, reticulated pythons will begin to swallow their prey whole. Their jaws are held together by stretchy ligaments, allowing their mouths to open to sizes much larger than the initial size of their heads.

Adaptations

Reticulated pythons are cold-blooded, and live in warm, tropical climates in order to keep their blood warm year round.

Reproduction

Although there are many similarities between reticulated pythons and anacondas, one of the main differences is how they give birth. The eggs of anacondas hatch while still inside the mother, and the mother then gives birth to live young.

Reticulated pythons, on the other hand, lay their eggs on the ground. Once the eggs are laid the mother will then lay on the eggs and incubate them until they hatch. Reticulated pythons can lay large numbers of eggs per clutch.