Reticulated Python

 

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Range: Tropical Southeast Asia

Habitat: Dense forests to open swamp land.  Can be found around human habitation where the snakes will prey on farm stock such as chickens and small goats.

Natural Diet: Mammals & birds.

Diet at RainForest: Varies by size of the snake.  Large pythons are fed pre-killed rabbits.  Younger snakes are fed a diet of pre-killed mice and or rats.

Size: Females up to 20 feet, 200 pounds--Males average 12-14 feet , 75-85 pounds.  Probably the longest of all living snakes, the reported record is 33' long, no confirmed snakes of this size have ever been documented.

Keeper Notes:  Regarded as the longest living snake alive today, the Reticulated python is capable of lengths over 25'  Although the animal can be difficult to work with, a nasty disposition is common more often than not; the Reticulated is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful of all of the pythons. 

Exhibiting substantial dimorphism, female Reticulated Pythons will grow substantially larger than males.  There are several recognized sub-species of the Reticulated Python with the island, or insular, species being on average much smaller than the primary species.  

Females will vigorously defend their clutch of eggs, which can number up to 100.  The Reticulated python is one of the species of snakes recognized to incubate their egg clutches by wrapping them in coils.  This incubation process not only controls humidity but can actually raise the physical temperature of the eggs.  A normal clutch of eggs incubated at the proper temperature will take an average of 70-80 days to hatch.  Click here to see our latest clutch of Reticulated Python eggs

Natural Range: Determining the natural range of the reticulated python can be quite a challenge, the geographical features of Southeast Asia complicates the issue with it's many islands and vast water ways.  The popularity of this snake in circuses and other sideshows no doubt contributed to it's dispersal inadvertently into areas it may not have originally inhabited.  Conversely given the animals large size and beautiful skin pattern it is safe to say even early man who may have been settling various islands and territories thousands of years ago may have wiped this species out in parts of its natural range prior to modern man attempting to determine the snakes range. 

The likely hood that this species "hitched a ride" on the many cargo and container ships of both modern transportation as well as historical ships almost certainly assures the fact that this prolific snake was able to rapidly move to new areas and succeed. 

The Reticulated Python is also extremely capable of living with human alterations to it's natural habitat, this fact alone has no doubt allowed this snake species to follow humans and their various domestic food sources such as chickens and small mammals. 

 


Python feeding:

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" its 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 breathe 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.

Reproduction  In general mating of the reticulated python occurs from early September through early December.   Eggs are typically laid from mid-December through mid-March.  The Reticulated python is one of the species that is capable of building a nest and incubating their own eggs.   

On average the reticulated python eggs require 95-100 days to hatch. This is slightly longer than average for most python species. 

Eggs are maintained by the female at 88-91 degrees Fahrenheit with a near 100% humidity. This is a higher average temperature than most other python species. 

 

Status in Wild: Numbers are rapidly declining due to over collection for skin trade as well as loss of habitat.

High Resolution Pictures Available