Reticulated Python Fact File
Reticulated pythons are widely regarded as the world's largest species of snake. They make their home across much of the southeast Asian region.
These snakes are carnivores which have been recorded feeding on prey items as large as a sun bear or deer. As a python they do not have venom and instead rely on their strong, muscular body to squeeze prey to death.
Females deposit their eggs in a pile and then wrap around them to provide warmth during the incubation period. Once they hatch the young receive no further parental care.
They are threatened across their range by hunting for their skin and food which is further increased by the growing human population in their range.
Learn more about these remarkable reptiles by reading on below.
Reticulated pythons are covered with an irregular pattern of spots and stripes. These are colored light brown, yellow, dark brown and black. Typically an irregular diamond pattern runs along the back with small patterns down the edge. A line runs from the eye down to the jaw.
This pattern is an adaptation which helps to camouflage them in their jungle home amongst the dead leaf matter and mud.
Currently a reticulated python known as Medusa is accepted by the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest snake on Earth. She measured in at 7.67m (25ft 2in) long with a weight of 158.8kg (350lbs).
The reticulated python is the world’s longest snake. It may range in length from 1.5-6.5m (4.9-21.3ft) long. An average weight for this species is between 1 and 75kg (2.2 and 165.3lb). Females often grow to be much larger than the males.
Reticulated pythons are carnivores. Prey changes with size. Smaller snakes focus on rodents while the larger specimens mostly feed upon civets, binturongs, primates and pigs. Some domestic animals such as chickens, cats and dogs are taken when they stray from their village. One has even been recorded taking a small sun bear.
When swallowing deer they are able to eat the antlers as well.
Being non-venomous this species constricts its prey to kill it. They are ambush hunters who lie in wait till prey wanders past them. While typically slow they will strike quickly at their prey. This prey item is then seized in their coils and constricted. It will then be swallowed whole. Their teeth curve backwards to help them hold on to their prey.
A large food item may be able to fulfill their energy requirements for several months.
Asia is the native home of the reticulated python. Here they can be found in the following countries – Bangladesh; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; India; Indonesia; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Malaysia; Myanmar; Myanmar; Philippines; Singapore; Thailand and Viet Nam.
The species is considered to be potentially extinct in Timor-Leste. A report from mainland India is though to represent a vagrant from another population.
An introduced population of the reticulated python survives in Florida in the United States. These originate from releases from the pet trade.
Here they inhabit rainforests, woodlands and nearby grasslands. They need to live near water sources such as ponds, creeks and rivers.
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Breeding takes place between September and March. As temperatures begin to decline they are encouraged to breed. Before breeding they put on weight so that they can fast over this period.
After mating the female lays 25-80 eggs which weigh over 250g. The mother python will wrap around her eggs and shiver which helps to warm them up. They are incubated at 31-32oC (88-90oF).
After 70-88 days of incubation these eggs will hatch. Young already measure 61cm (2ft) in length when they hatch. Soon after hatching they shed their skin.
These animals begin caring for themselves and will lay in wait for prey.
Sexually maturity is based on size not age. Males will first breed when they are 2.1-2.75m (6.9-9ft) long while females typically wait till 3.35m (11ft) long.
Reticulated pythons live a solitary lifestyle.
Smaller reticulated pythons will spend time in the tree tops and will seek shelter in trees.
As a reticulated python grows it shed its old skin. This is used to repair injuries and during the developmental stage of life.
Predators and Threats
When threatened the reticulated python will raise its head and begin to hiss. I this does not deter the prey they will strike repeatedly at the threat.
Available data for their population varies in availability across their range. In Thailand they are considered abundant while in Timor-Leste is though they have already gone extinct.
These snakes are often persecuted through fear due to these snakes being so large. Hunting also occurs for food, medicines and the pet trade.
A growing human population across their range is presenting a major threat to this species as it brings humans and the reticulated python in to conflict.
Some factors of their life history assist the snake in surviving against increased pressure. These include an ability to survive in areas of disturbed habitat and to persist in oil palm plantations along with a high reproductive output and rapid growth rate.
Captive breeding program exists for the species which may help reduce popular on the wild population.
The reticulated portion of their name refers to the net-like pattern of their skin.
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Rushenb, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Shell Kinney, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Goalsurfer, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons
Stuart, B., Thy, N., Chan-Ard, T., Nguyen, T.Q., Grismer, L., Auliya, M., Das, I. & Wogan, G. 2018. Python reticulatus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T183151A1730027. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T183151A1730027.en. Downloaded on 27 April 2020.
National Zoo & Aquarium. 2021. Reticulated Python | National Zoo & Aquarium. [online] Available at: <https://nationalzoo.com.au/animal/reticulated-python/> [Accessed 25 July 2021].
Australiazoo.com.au. 2021. Reticulated Python – Australia Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.australiazoo.com.au/wildlife/our-animals/reticulated-python/> [Accessed 25 July 2021].
Guinness World Records. 2021. Longest snake in captivity ever. [online] Available at: <https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/longest-snake-ever-(captivity)> [Accessed 25 July 2021].
Australian Reptile Park. 2021. Reticulated Python – Australian Reptile Park. [online] Available at: <https://www.reptilepark.com.au/reticulated-python/> [Accessed 25 July 2021].
Brown, C. 2016. "Python reticulatus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed July 25, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Python_reticulatus/