Pygmy Python Fact File
The pygmy python is appropriately named as the smallest snake both in Australia and the world. Their body can measure up to 61cm (2ft) long and they weigh between 70 and 200g (2.5-7oz). Females are typically slightly larger than males.
Like all snakes they have a long thin body and no legs. The head is narrow and distinct from the neck.
Their head is reddish in color and on top it may have some brown flecks. Running along the body they are colored a pale or reddish shade of brown. This is patterned along the body with darker blotches. On the underside they are colored white.
The pygmy python is a carnivore. They feed on small animals such as lizards with a main target being the Pilbara Dtella WITH which share the same habitat oF termite mounds. They also feed on small mammals such as bats and amphibians. To catch bats they will sit on ledges at cave entrances and wait for them to fly past.
Younger animals tend to prey on reptiles with the older individuals focused on mammals.
Food is killed through constriction. As a python they lack venom. They will seize prey in their mouth and wrap around it to squeeze it. Their saliva contains strong digestive enzymes which help break down their food.
Their forked tongue is flicked out of the mouth to help detect scents in the air. This can help them find prey.
Wild 25 years
— AD —
Australia is the native home of the pygmy python. Here they are found in the Northern regions of Western Australia. They can be found through the Pilbra and Gascoyne regions.
They may also be found on some offshore islands in the Dampier archipelago.
Pygmy pythons make their home in dry woodlands and shrubland throughout semi-arid regions.
When resting they are commonly found in the cavities of termite mounds which is also a favored resting spot for their prey. These mounds become incredibly warm during the day helping these ectothermic animals to generate the warmth they need to create energy.
Males will follow females who emit pheromones when they are ready to mate. This is triggered by a drop in temperatures. When a male finds a receptive female he will rub her cloacal spurs to initiate mating.
Following a successful mating the female will deposit a clutch of up to 10 eggs in a small pile. She then coils around this and keeps the eggs warm while protecting them during the 2-3 month incubation period.
Once the eggs hatch they are independent with no further parental care.
On their noise is a small egg tooth and this helps them to break through the shell of their egg. A few weeks after hatching it will fall off.
The pygmy python is nocturnal and emerges at night to feed. Their day is spent curled up in a termite mound which helps them thermo regulate and provides protection.
They are primarily solitary and only come together with other snakes purposefully during the breeding season. There may be a number of them in the same termite mound or they may cohabit with other species.
Predators and Threats
One way to avoid predators is through camouflage.
The areas in which pygmy pythons live is sparsely populated and humans have little effect on their population. Large areas of their range are in protected reserves.
They are also known as the anthill python or dwarf python.
The scientific name for this species anterasia perthensis comes from the Capital city of Western Australia, Perth despite them not living there.
These animals are kept as pets.
By Smacdonald – Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3616590
Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press. Aussiewildlifedisplays.com.au. 2020. Pygmy Python | Aussie Wildlife Displays. [online] Available at: <https://www.aussiewildlifedisplays.com.au/2018/06/10/pygmy-python/> [Accessed 24 October 2020].
Thesnakeranch.com. 2020. Pygmy Python. [online] Available at: <https://thesnakeranch.com/snake-profiles/pygmy-python/> [Accessed 24 October 2020].
PerthZooWebsite. 2020. Pygmy Python. [online] Available at: <https://perthzoo.wa.gov.au/animal/pygmy-python> [Accessed 24 October 2020].
WAHS Pygmy Python Care Sheet, 2015, http://www.wahs.org.au/files/Pygmy_Python_Care_Sheet.pdf
Blanchet, C. 2011. “Antaresia perthensis” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed October 23, 2020 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Antaresia_perthensis/
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