Reticulated python

The reticulated python is a non-venomous snake, the longest in the world. In some range countries, it is hunted for its skin, used for traditional medicine, and sold as a pet. It is one of the three heaviest and longest snakes in the world. Large individuals can reach 10 m in length. But more often you can meet a reticulated python 4-8 m long. The record specimen that lived in the zoo reached 12.2 m. If you want to know more, check out this article.

Origin view and description

Photo: Reticulated Python

Photo: Reticulated python

The reticulated python was first described in 1801 by the German naturalist J. Gottlob. The specific name “reticulatus” is Latin for “reticulated” and is a reference to the complex color scheme. The common name Python was proposed by the French naturalist F. Dowden in 1803

In a 2004 DNA genetic study, it was found that the reticulated python is closer to the water python, and not to the tiger python, as previously thought. In 2008, Leslie Rawlings and colleagues reanalyzed the morphological data and, combining it with genetic material, found that the reticulated genus is an offshoot of a lineage of aquatic pythons.

Video: Reticulated python

Based on molecular genetic studies, the reticulated python has been officially listed under the scientific name Malayopython reticulans since 2014.

Three subspecies can be distinguished within this species:

  • malyopython reticulans reticulans , which is a nominotypic taxon;
  • malyopython reticulans saputrai, which is native to parts of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and Selayar Island;
  • malyopython reticulans jampeanus is found only on the island of Jampea.

The existence of subspecies can be explained by the fact that the reticulated python is distributed over fairly large areas and is found on separate islands. These snake populations are isolated and there is no genetic mixing with others. A possible fourth subspecies is currently being researched, which is located on Sangihe Island.

Appearance and Features

Photo: Large Reticulated Python

Photo: Large Reticulated Python

Reticulated Python & #8212; giant snake native to Asia. The average body length and average body weight are 4.78 m and 170 kg, respectively. Some individuals reach a length of 9.0 m and a weight of 270 kg. Although reticulated pythons exceeding 6 m are rare, however, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, this is the only snake in existence that regularly exceeds this length.

The reticulated python has a light yellow to brown body coloration with black lines running from the ventral eye region diagonally down towards the head. Another black line is sometimes present on the snake's head, extending from the end of the snout to the base of the skull or occiput. Reticulated Python color pattern — it is a complex geometric pattern that includes different colors. The back usually has a series of irregular diamond shapes surrounded by smaller markings with light centers.

Fun Fact: Large variations in size, color, and markings are often found across the wide geographic range of this species.

In the zoo, the color pattern may seem harsh, but in the shady jungle environment, among the fallen leaves and debris, it allows the python to practically disappear. Generally, this species has shown that females grow much larger than males in size and weight. The average female can grow up to 6.09 m and 90 kg in contrast to the male, which averages about 4.5 m in length and up to 45 kg.

Now you know whether or not the reticulated python is poisonous. Let's find out where the giant snake lives.

Where does the reticulated python live?

Photo: Reticulated Python Snake

Photo: Reticulated Python Snake

The python prefers tropical and subtropical climates and loves to be near water. Initially, he lived in tropical forests and swamps. As these areas become smaller as a result of clearing, the reticulated python begins to adapt to secondary forests and agricultural fields and live very densely with people. Increasingly, large snakes are found in small towns, from where they have to be relocated.

In addition, the reticulated python can live near rivers and can be found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. It is an excellent swimmer that can swim far out to sea, which is why the snake has colonized many small islands within its range. It is said that in the early years of the 20th century, the reticulated python was a common visitor even in bustling Bangkok.

The reticulated python's range extends into South Asia:

  • Thailand;
  • India;
  • Vietnam;
  • Laos;
  • Cambodia;
  • Malaysia;
  • Bangladesh ;
  • Singapore;
  • Burma;
  • Indonesia;
  • Philippines.

In addition, the species is widespread in the Nicobar Islands, as well as: Sumatra, a group of islands Mentawai, 272 islets Natuna, Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Lombok, Sumbawa, Timor, Maluku, Sumba, Flores, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Mindanao, Mindoro, Luzon, Palawan, Panay, Polillo, Samar, Tawi-Tawi.

The reticulated python dominates tropical rain forests, swamps, and meadow forests, at altitudes of 1200-2500 m. The temperature required for reproduction and survival should be between ≈24ºC to ≈34ºC in the presence of a lot of moisture.

What does the reticulated python eat?

Photo: Yellow Mesh Python

Photo: Yellow Reticulated Python

Like all pythons, the reticulated python hunts from ambush, waiting until the victim comes within striking distance before wrapping its body around the prey and killing it with a squeeze. It is known to feed on mammals and various bird species found within its geographic range.

Its natural diet includes:

  • monkeys;
  • civet ;
  • rodents;
  • binturongs;
  • small ungulates;
  • birds;
  • reptiles.

Often hunts for pets: pigs, goats, dogs and birds. The usual diet includes piglets and kids weighing 10-15 kg. However, a case is known when a reticulated python swallowed food, the weight of which exceeded 60 kg. It hunts bats, catching them in flight, fixing the tail on bumps in the cave. Small individuals up to 3–4 m long feed mainly on rodents such as rats, while larger individuals move on to larger prey.

Interesting fact: The reticulated python is able to swallow prey up to one quarter of its length and weight. Among the largest documented loot — a half-starved Malayan bear weighing 23 kg, which was eaten by a snake measuring 6.95 m and took about ten weeks to digest.

It is believed that the reticulated python can prey on humans, from — for numerous attacks on people in the wild and on pet owners of reticulated pythons. At least one case is known when Python reticulatus entered a man's dwelling in the forest and carried away a child. To detect prey, the reticulated python uses sensory pits (specialized organs in some snake species) that detect the warmth of mammals. This allows you to determine the location of the prey in relation to its temperature relative to the environment. Thanks to this feature, the reticulated python detects prey and predators without seeing them.

Character and lifestyle features

Photo: Reticulated Python

Photo: Reticulated Python

Despite being close to humans, little is known about the behavior of these animals. The reticulated python is nocturnal and spends most of the day in hiding. The distances that animals cover during their lives, or whether they have fixed territories, have not been thoroughly investigated. Reticulated Python — a loner who only comes into contact during the mating season.

These snakes occupy areas with water sources. In the process of movement, they are able to contract the muscles and at the same time release them, creating a snake pattern of movement. Due to the rectilinear movement and large body size of reticulated pythons, the snake's type of movement, in which it constricts its body and then turns around in a linear motion, is more common, as it allows the larger specimen to move faster. Using a contraction and extension technique, the python can climb trees.

Fun fact: Using similar body movements, reticulated pythons, like all snakes, shed their skin to repair wounds or simply to life stages of development. The loss of skin, or flaking, is essential to the relief of an ever-growing body.

The reticulated python hardly hears noises and is visually limited due to motionless eyelids. Therefore, it relies on its sense of smell and touch to find prey and avoid predators. The snake does not have ears, instead it has a special organ that allows it to feel vibrations in the ground. Due to their lack of ears, snakes and other pythons must use physical movement to create vibrations with which they communicate with each other.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Large Reticulated Python

Photo: Large Reticulated Python

The reticulated python breeding season runs from February to April. Shortly after winter, pythons begin to prepare to breed due to the promising warmth of summer. In most areas, the beginning of the season is influenced by geographic location. Thus, pythons breed depending on climatic changes in a particular region of habitat.

The breeding area must be rich in prey so that the female can produce offspring. Reticulated pythons need uninhabited areas to maintain high reproduction. The viability of the eggs depends on the mother's ability to protect and incubate them, as well as high levels of humidity. Adult pythons are usually ready to breed when the male reaches about 2.5 meters in length and about 3.0 meters in length for females. They reach this length within 3-5 years for both sexes.

Interesting facts: If there is a lot of food, the female produces offspring every year. In areas where there is not much food, the size and frequency of clutches are reduced (once every 2-3 years). In a breeding year, one female can produce 8-107 eggs, but usually 25-50 eggs. The average birth weight of babies is 0.15 g.

Unlike most species, the reticulated female python remains coiled over the hatching eggs to keep them warm. Through the process of muscle contraction, the female heats up the eggs, causing an increase in the rate of incubation and the chances of survival of the offspring. After birth, little reticulated pythons know almost no parental care and are forced to protect themselves and look for food.

Natural enemies of reticulated pythons

Photo: Reticulated python in nature

Photo: Reticulated python in nature

Reticulated pythons have virtually no natural enemies due to their size and power. Snake eggs and newly hatched pythons are susceptible to predators such as birds (hawks, eagles, herons) and small mammals. Hunting for adult reticulated pythons is limited to crocodiles and other large predators. Pythons are at high risk of being attacked only at the water's edge, where an attack from a crocodile can be expected. The only defense against predators, besides size, is the snake's powerful body compression, which can squeeze the life out of an opponent in 3-4 minutes.

Man is the main enemy of the reticulated python. These animals are killed and skinned for the production of leather goods. It is estimated that half a million animals are killed annually for this purpose. In Indonesia, reticulated pythons are also consumed as food. Hunting animals is justified by the fact that the inhabitants want to protect their livestock and children from snakes.

Reticulated python — one of the few snakes that prey on humans. These attacks are not very common, but this species has caused several fatalities, both in the wild and in captivity.

Several cases are known for certain:

  • in 1932, a 7.6 m python ate a teenage boy in the Philippines. The python ran away from home, and when he was found, the son of the owner of the snake was found inside;
  • in 1995, a large reticulated python killed a 29-year-old Ee Hen Chuan is from the southern Malaysian state of Johor. The snake was coiling around a lifeless body with its head in its jaws when the victim's brother stumbled upon it;
  • in 2009, a 3-year-old boy from Las Vegas was wrapped in a spiral with a reticulated python 5.5 m long. Mother saved a baby by stabbing a python;
  • In 2017, the body of a 25-year-old Indonesian farmer was found inside the stomach of a 7-meter reticulated python. The snake was killed and the body removed. This was the first fully confirmed case of a python feeding on a human. The process of removing the body was documented through photographs and video;
  • In June 2018, a 54-year-old Indonesian woman was eaten by a 7m python. She disappeared while working in her garden, and the next day a search party found a python with a bulge on its body near the garden. A video of a gutted snake has been posted online.

Population and species status

Photo: Reticulated Python Snake

Photo: Reticulated Python Snake

The population status of the reticulated python varies greatly at different locations in the geographic range. These snakes are abundant in Thailand, where they crawl into people's homes during the rainy season. In the Philippines, it is a widespread species, even in residential areas. The Philippine subpopulation is considered stable and even increasing. Reticulated pythons are rare in Myanmar. In Cambodia, too, the population has declined and declined by 30-50% in ten years. Members of the genus are very rare in the wild in Vietnam, but many individuals have been found in the south of the country.

Interesting fact: The reticulated python is not endangered, however, according to CITES Appendix II, the trade and sale of its skin is regulated to ensure survival. This species is not listed in the IUCN Red List.

It is considered likely that the python remains common in the southern parts of this country where suitable habitat is available, including protected areas. Probably decreasing in Laos. The contraction throughout Indochina was due to the transformation of the lands. The reticulated python is still relatively common in many areas of Kalimantan. Subpopulations in Malaysia and Indonesia are stable despite heavy harvesting.

The reticulated python remains common in Singapore despite urbanization, where fishing of the species is prohibited. In Sarawak and Sabah, the species is common in both residential and natural areas, and there is no evidence of a decline in populations. Problems caused by habitat clearance and exploitation can be offset by increased oil palm plantations as the reticulated python snake thrives in these habitats.

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