Python, Burmese


Python bivittatus


The Burmese Python is one of the largest species of snake. It is tan, yellow/brown, or gray in color with large red blotches that are outlined in a cream to gold color. Eyes and nostrils are set on top of the pyramid-shaped head. The body is long and thin compared to other species of python. Adults grow to an average length of 16 feet and can reach lengths of up to 20 feet. Burmese pythons, like other constrictors, do not have fangs. Instead, they have back curving teeth to hold on to their prey. 

Family

Pythonidae

Order

Squamata

Class

Reptilia

Range

Native to Southeast Asia, introduced to south Florida

Habitat

Forested areas, swamps, grasslands, marshes

Life Expectancy

15 to 25 years

Sexual Maturity

Around 4 years of age

Diet

In the wild, small to large mammals, birds and reptiles.

Status

IUCN - Vulnerable

Behaviors

Burmese pythons are a mostly terrestrial species, but do require a habitat with a permanent source of water. They spend most of their day basking in the sun and spend their nights hunting for prey. Burmese pythons are both good climbers and swimmers. They feed on small to large mammals, birds, and reptiles. Infrared sensing organs, located on the upper lip, are used to detect prey. Similarly, the Jacobson’s organ, which is located at the roof of the mouth, aids in smelling and detecting scents of prey. This is utilized by darting the tongue in and out of the mouth. Once prey is located and caught, rear-pointing teeth are used to hold on to the prey while the python coils around and squeezes the breath out of it. Prey is swallowed whole and digested over a period of several days to weeks. Burmese pythons have loosely hinged jaws, allowing them to take in animals four to five times as wide as their head. In the wild, breeding occurs during the Spring. Eggs are laid three to four months after breeding occurs. Females lay an average of 35 eggs, but clutch sizes can be as large as 100 eggs. The female coils around the clutch for the entire incubation period, keeping them warm and protected. Heat is generated through muscle contractions by the female while she is coiled. The incubation period lasts approximately 60 days. The young hatch at an average of 18 inches in length. After hatching, the young Burmese pythons are completely on their own.

Adaptions

Special Interests

The Burmese python was only recently recognized as a distinct species. It was previously listed as a subspecies of Python molurus. Like other pythons, the Burmese python has two lungs while most snakes have one.

Folklore

Conservation

Jacksonville Zoo History

Exhibit

Titanoboa