Scientific Name: Python reticulatus
Adam Nicholas, Quakers Hill, NSW
Dane Easton, Ourimbah
There have been recorded instances of reticulated pythons eating humans, particularly children, but such occurrences are very rare.
Generally regarded as the longest living snake with specimens having been recorded up to 10 metres. This large size means they are slow moving snakes but they can still strike at surprising speeds. The colouration and pattern is designed to allow the snake to blend into the leaf litter of the forest floor where they lie in wait for unsuspecting prey. The markings usually consist of light brown blotches separated by reticulations of dark brown or black. These are further interspersed with areas of cream, white and/or yellow. They are non-venomous but have many backwards curving teeth, which serve to hold the struggling prey until it is immobilized by the snake's coils.
Pythons are usually found near water courses amongst rainforest or woodland. Small snakes will spend a large amount of time off the ground in trees and shrubs, while large adults are mostly restricted to the ground. They will retreat into crevices and caves after feeding with most of their activity taking place at night. They have a reputation as being an aggressive snake and they will not hesitate to defend themselves by raising the head off the ground, hissing loudly and, if further harassed, striking repeatedly at the threat.
Pythons are constrictors, squeezing their prey with their body coils to inhibit breathing. The prey thus dies of asphyxiation rather than actually being crushed. Large reticulated pythons normally eat mammals and birds, with items as large as deer and pigs being readily taken. Food is swallowed whole and one large meal may serve a snake for several months.
The female reticulated python lays up to 40 eggs; the larger the snake, the larger the clutch. She will then guard and incubate the clutch until they hatch a couple of months later.