How big can a snake get

Pythons

Characteristics

What do pythons look like?

The python family includes relatively small species from the genus of the southern pythons, which only reach up to 90 centimeters in length, to species of the genus of the actual pythons, which are sometimes very large. One example is the tiger python, which can grow to be over five meters long. This makes some of the longest snakes in the world pythons.

The body of the python consists of a strong muscular tube. The head is quite broad and clearly set off from the body, the muzzle is rounded. The tail is only short. The whole body is covered with small scales, the head with smaller scales and larger shields. The color is light or dark brown, olive, gray, orange or yellow, depending on the species. The animals have different patterns of dark-edged spots, ribbons and stripes.

Your lower jaw is very flexible and the bones of the upper jaw are very flexible. This allows pythons to open their mouths extremely wide to devour their prey.

Pythons have a special characteristic that sets them apart from other snakes: In their body there are still remnants of the pelvic and thigh bones in the form of spurs.

Where do pythons live?

Pythons are giant snakes of the Old World, that is, they are found in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Australia. There they live mainly in tropical and subtropical regions. Of the real pythons, four species occur in Africa, six species in India and Southeast Asia. The southern rock python, for example, lives in Africa from the equator to South Africa. The northern rock python occurs south of the Sahara to northern Angola. The tiger python lives in India and Southeast Asia, the reticulated python in Southeast Asia.

Pythons inhabit different habitats depending on the species. These include savannahs, rainforests, coasts, mangroves, but also semi-deserts. Some species occur up to an altitude of 2000 meters.

Rock pythons mainly live in open savannahs, mostly near bodies of water. Some of them can also be found in plantations. Most of them are on the ground. Other species also live on trees.

Pythons sometimes use the burrows of other animals as a retreat, such as the burrows of aardvarks, warthogs and porcupines.

What types of pythons are there?

The python family includes eight genera with 40 different species. One of these genera is that of the real pythons, often just called pythons. It includes the species commonly known as pythons such as the tiger python, ball python, tree python, and the southern rock python and the northern rock python.

The reticulated python and the Timor python also belonged to the real pythons in the past. In the meantime, researchers have found that they form a group of their own. They now belong to the genus Malyopython, but of course also to the python family.

How old do pythons get?

Depending on the species, pythons can live to be 15 to 30 years old, and the tiger python can be over 30 years old. The southern rock python can live up to 25 years in captivity.

behavior

How do pythons live?

Pythons are not venomous snakes, but strangler snakes. They kill their prey by grabbing it with one bite and then entangling and crushing it. Most pythons are active at dusk and at night, but some, like the southern rock python, are also active during the day. The activity is also highly dependent on temperature. In the cooler months of the year, the animals are more active during the day, and more at night when it is very hot.

Pythons not only live on the ground, but also on trees. They are very skilled climbers and good swimmers. In search of food, pythons either wander around or lurk in the branches of trees or on the banks of water, well hidden for prey.

Like all reptiles, pythons are cold-blooded, their body temperature depends on the temperature of the environment. The animals therefore like to sunbathe in the morning to warm up. Like all snakes, pythons molt as they grow. In doing so, they shed their old skin, which can sometimes be found as an empty shell.

Friends and enemies of the python

Young pythons can fall prey to birds of prey or other predators such as crocodiles, monitor lizards or big cats. Adult animals are endangered by predators such as hyenas if they have just devoured prey and are very immobile. Warthogs also attack pythons when they want to protect their young.

How do pythons reproduce?

Pythons reproduce by laying eggs. During the mating season, the females leave scent trails that the males can use to track them down. After mating, the eggs remain in the female's body. This gestation period lasts differently. Finally, depending on the species, the female lays two to over 100 eggs. Pythons practice regular brood care: the female curls around the clutch to protect the eggs and keep them warm. Finally the little snakes hatch. Mother and young often stay near the nest for a while.

Young pythons grow up quickly for the first few years. But it takes a few years before they are sexually mature: in the case of the southern rock python, for example, a little over two to six years in captivity and up to ten years in the wild.

How do pythons hunt?

Pythons usually hunt at night. With the help of their so-called pit organ, they can perceive infrared rays. So you feel the warmth that prey animals radiate over their bodies. The pit organ lies on the left and right of the upper jaw between the eyes and nostrils and can be seen as a small depression

maintenance

What do pythons eat?

Pythons primarily hunt small to medium-sized vertebrates, i.e. mammals and birds, and sometimes other reptiles. The size of the prey varies from mice and small birds to small antelopes.

Large pythons can eat prey that can weigh up to 25 kilograms. They devour the prey whole, usually head first, and then digest it in the following days. Devouring the prey can take several hours.