Burmese Python

 

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Pet Burmese Python

 

Range: Asia, Burma (Myanmar)  subspecies of this snake is found in India.

Habitat: Forested Regions.  usually found near water.  Is adapting to human farming areas where abundant poultry and small mammals are present.

Natural Diet: Mammals & birds.

Diet at RainForest: Pre-killed rodents

Size: Females 16-18 feet, 120-150 Pounds--Males 12-14 feet 85-100 Pounds.  Record size for a Burmese Python is reputed to be over 28 feet.  No such snake is alive in any zoological collection today.

Keeper Notes: The Burmese python is recognized as one of the largest snake species alive today.   Adult females tend to be very heavy bodied and often exceed 15 feet in length.   The female can lay as many as 60 eggs per clutch.  The eggs will usually take between 60-70 days to hatch.  Hatchling Burmese pythons can be up to 20" long at birth.   Frequently seen in the pet industry, the Burmese python can be one of the most docile of all snakes kept as pets.  The large size of adult Burmese pythons requires an experienced keeper.   Reputable accounts of this species of snake killing humans by constriction exists.

The normal pattern of the Burmese python is shown here for comparison to the albino morph of this snake.  In the late 1970's the first albino Burmese python was captured in Ceylon.  Sold in the United States to a pet distributor this single animal sold for $75,000 dollars,  adjusted for inflation that is over $150,000 in today's dollars.  This single animal was used to breed with normal patterned snakes resulting in offspring that possessed the gene for albinism.

 Several successful matings of the offspring to the original parent snake resulted in the first albinos arriving on the pet market in the early 1980's.  Commanding very high prices these snakes were bred by enthusiasts to the extent that by the mid-1990's the price of an albino Burmese python had dropped to less than $200.00 in pet shops. 

All Pythons are constrictors.  Snakes that hunt using constriction as a means of subduing prey will very quickly grab their prey with their teeth using a very fast strike. The constrictor will quickly wrap coils of their bodies around the prey and squeeze or constrict the prey item.  This process does not actually crush the prey and break its bones as is widely reported in the media.  Instead, they squeeze tightly so that the prey animal canít breath and it suffocates, this process usually requires about 3-4 minutes for the prey animal to be killed.

Once the snake is certain the prey item is dead they then begin to search for the animals head, virtually all prey animals are consumed head first.  This process allows the snake to literally "fold" the arms and legs of the prey animal back as the creature is swallowed.  Contrary to popular belief a snake does not "unhinge" it's jaws, the jaws in fact are not actually attached in a mechanical way.  Long tendons and muscles connect the upper and lower jaws.  The lower jaw is actually made up of two separate bones to further enhance the animals ability to manipulate large prey items.

Once the snake has the animal past it's jaws a series rhythmic muscular contractions then pull the prey down the snakeís throat and into its stomach.   A very large prey item can be observed in the snakes stomach as a large bulge.  Contrary to popular belief the large prey item is not digested by slowing moving down the length of the snake.  Once the prey animal reaches the stomach, usually about 20 minutes for a very large item, the food item is stationary in the snakes stomach as it is gradually digested.   

The size of the meal can have an impact on the duration of the digestion, but external factors such as ambient air temperature play a larger roll.  The snake must be careful not to eat when temperatures are too cool, the meal will quite literally decompose faster than the snake can digest it, causing a gaseous bloating in the snake that can result in death.  Ideal air temperatures allow the snake to digest the meal prior to the food item decomposing!  Snakes often will regurgitate a meal when the conditions do not allow it to properly digest the meal, this can include both temperatures that are too high and too low!

How does the snake breathes while its mouth is full? It has a special tube in the bottom of its mouth that stays open to one side to take in air.

RainForest does not currently display a normal pattern Burmese Python. 

Status in Wild: Declining primarily due to over collection for the skin trade as well as human consumption.   The Indian subspecies of the Burmese python is endangered.   Loss of habitat is now playing a very large roll in the loss of this species in the wild. 

Fear that this species will colonize the South East United States is grossly over hyped and generally not probable as many species of native animals will keep any hatchlings in check. 

High Resolution Pictures Available