Scientific Name: Morelia spilota spilota
In Memory Of Peter Carroll, Windsor
Diamond pythons often take up residence in the roof spaces of private houses. Many people are not keen on having such lodgers, however, the snakes carry out a very beneficial task by eliminating any unwanted rodent pests. Once the food supply has been exhausted, the snakes will often move on to another home.
Closely related to the carpet pythons, diamond pythons have a distinctive pattern of a black background with cream or yellow spots and blotches. There is some variation between individuals ranging from snakes that are predominantly black with a few light spots, to others that have bright yellow scales edged in black plus yellow diamond-shaped patches surrounded by black. These beautiful snakes may reach three metres in length, but two metres is more usual. As with all pythons, this snake is non-venomous.
The diamond python is restricted to the coastal areas of New South Wales, where it gradually merges with the carpet python in the area north of Newcastle. The two subspecies will interbreed where they overlap. Habitat types are usually well vegetated, such as rainforest margins and woodland, but they will also utilise heathland and rocky outcrops.
Hatchling diamond pythons feed almost solely on small lizards. As they grow, their diet broadens to incorporate small birds and mammals, with adults feeding predominantly on such warm-blooded prey. Possums, fruit bats and rodents are particular favourites. Humans, even small ones, are never at risk but a large python may take domestic pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs or even a small cat or dog.
In spring, female diamond pythons may attract several males all vying for the opportunity to mate. The clutch of 15-20 eggs is laid in early summer in a secluded spot and the female will coil around them until they hatch. Unlike many other reptiles, whose young are more brightly coloured than the adults, diamond python hatchlings are surprisingly bland in colour, only developing the bright yellow and cream markings as they grow.