Indian pythons are found in a variety of habitats including rainforests, river valleys, woodlands, scrublands, grassy marshes, and semi rocky foothills. They are usually found in habitats with areas that can provide sufficient cover. This species is never found very far from water sources, and seems to prefer very damp terrain. (Murphy and Henderson, 1997; Woodland Park Zoo, 2000)
- Habitat Regions
- Other Habitat Features
Indian pythons are divided into two recognized subspecies, which can be distinguished by physical characteristics. Burmese pythons, P. molurus bivitatus, can grow to lengths of about 7.6 m (25 ft), and can weigh as much as 137 kg (300 lbs.). Indian pythons, P. molurus molurus, stays smaller, reaching a maximum of about 6.4 m (21 ft) in length, and weighing as much as 91 kg (200 lbs.). The hides of both subspecies are marked with a rectangular mosaic type pattern that runs the full length of the animal. P. molurus bivitatus is more darkly colored, with shades of brown and dark cream rectangles that lay over a black background. This subspecies is also characterized by an arrow-shaped marking present on the top of the head, which begins the pattern. P. molurus molurus has similar markings with light brown and tan rectangles placed over a typically cream background. P. molurus molurus only has a partial arrow-shaped marking on the top of the head. Each scale of P. molurus molurus is a single color.
Indian pythons are dimorphic with females of both subspecies being longer and heavier than males. Males have larger cloacal spurs, or vestigial limbs, than do females. The cloacal spurs are two projections, one on either side of the anal vent, that are thought to be extensions of posterior limbs. (Coborn, 1991; Murphy and Henderson, 1997; Woodland Park Zoo, 2000)
- Other Physical Features
- Sexual Dimorphism
- female larger
- Range mass
- 137 (high) kg
- 301.76 (high) lb
- Range length
- 7.6 (high) m
- 24.93 (high) ft
- Average basal metabolic rate
- 1.2661 W
- Range number of offspring
- 100 (high)
- Average number of offspring
- Range gestation period
- 2 to 3 months
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
- 2 to 3 years
- Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
- 2 to 3 years
- Parental Investment
- Average lifespan
- 15.8 years
- Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
- Average lifespan
Communication and Perception
Like all snakes, chemoreception is important for finding prey, and generally perceiving the environment. (Murphy and Henderson, 1997)also has heat sensing pits on its head that allow it to detect endothermic prey that are warmer than the surrounding environment. It has poor eyesight.
rodents and other mammals. A small portion of its diet consists of birds, amphibians, and reptiles. When looking for food will either stalk prey, ambush, or scavenge for carrion. These snakes have very poor eyesight. To compensate for this, the species has a highly developed sense of smell, and heat pits within each scale along the upper lip, which sense the warmth of nearby prey. Indian pythons kill prey by biting and constricting until the prey suffocates. Prey items are then swallowed whole. To accomplish the feat of swallowing the prey, P. molurus molurus dislocates its jaw and stretches its highly elastic skin around the prey. This allows these snakes to swallow food items many times larger than thier own heads. In cases of scavenging there is no constriction of the prey (Murphy and Henderson 1997, Woodland Park Zoo 2000). (Murphy and Henderson, 1997; Woodland Park Zoo, 2000)is carnivorous. Its diet consists mostly of live prey. Its staples are
- Primary Diet
- eats terrestrial vertebrates
- Animal Foods
eats many rodents as well as a variety of vertebrates. It may be important in limiting populations of its prey.
Economic Importance for Humans: Positive
There is a high amount of exportation for the pet trade. The skin of Indian pythons is highly valued in the fashion industry due to its exotic look. In its native range it is also hunted as a source of food. (American Museum of Natural History, 1998; Jurgen Obst, et al., 1988)
- Positive Impacts
- pet trade
- body parts are source of valuable material
Economic Importance for Humans: Negative
No negative impact is known.
Pythonidae.is listed by IUCN as lower risk, near threatened. Since June 14, 1976, has been listed by the U.S. ESA as endangered throughout its range. The subspecies P. molurus molurus is listed as endangered in Appendix I of CITES. Other subspecies are listed in Appendix II, as are all other species of
Matthew Wund (editor), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
Jesse Padgett (author), Fresno City College, Carl Johansson (editor), Fresno City College.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
an animal that mainly eats meat
flesh of dead animals.
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
the state that some animals enter during winter in which normal physiological processes are significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's energy requirements. The act or condition of passing winter in a torpid or resting state, typically involving the abandonment of homoiothermy in mammals.
(as keyword in perception channel section) This animal has a special ability to detect heat from other organisms in its environment.
referring to animal species that have been transported to and established populations in regions outside of their natural range, usually through human action.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
- native range
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
- pet trade
the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
- scrub forest
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
- tropical savanna and grassland
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
- temperate grassland
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
uses sight to communicate
American Museum of Natural History, 1998. "Indian Python" (On-line). Accessed Feb. 19, 2001 at http://www.amnh.org/nationalcenter/Endangered/python/python.html.
Coborn, J. 1991. The Atlas of Snakes of the World. NJ: T.F.H. Publications.
Jurgen Obst, F., K. Richter, U. Jacob. 1988. The Completely Illustrated Atlas of Reptiles and Amphibians. NJ: T.F.H. Publications.
Murphy, J., R. Henderson. 1997. Tales of Giant Snakes:A Natural Historical History of Anacondas and Pythons. FL: Krieger Publishing Co.
Woodland Park Zoo, 2000. "Indian Python" (On-line). Accessed Feb. 19. 2001 at http://www.zoo.org/educate/fact_sheets/python/python.htm.
de Vosjoli, P. 1991. The Care and Maintinence of Burmese Pythons. CA: Vivarium Systems.