Scientific Name: Python molurus bivittatus
Samuel Jansons, St Clair, NSW
Burmese pythons kill by constriction. After securing their victims with their teeth, they coil their bodies around them and squeeze until they suffocate. Prey – no matter how huge – is swallowed whole, thanks to the stretchy ligaments in their jaws.
The beautiful Burmese python is one of the largest snakes in the world, growing 3–7 metres long, and weighing up to 90kg. The snake’s distinctive patterning – dark brown blotches on a light tan background – means that it is often hunted for its skin, and so it is now a threatened species in the wild.
Burmese pythons are native to southern and south-east Asia, in swamps, grasslands and jungles. Young pythons are often found in trees, but as they grow heavier they become ground dwellers. Burmese pythons need a source of water and are excellent swimmers that can hold their breath for half an hour. In some parts of the world, such as the Everglades in the US, the Burmese python has become a pest.
Rodents, small mammals and birds. Large pythons have been known to take pigs and goats in built up areas. They have poor eyesight so they locate their prey using heat sensors in their jaws and chemical receptors in their tongues.
After mating in spring, the female lays 20-100 eggs that are incubated for 2-3 months. She keeps them warm by coiling her body around the clutch and shivering her muscles to increase the temperature.