Rough-Scaled Python Fact File

Morelia carinata

Credit: Petr Hamerník, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons












Small mammals

Conservation Status


Least Concern

The rough-scaled python is among the least seen python species in Australia being restricted to a remote portion of the Kimberley area of Western Australia.

Few studies of this species have occurred in the wild with much knowledge of them taken from captive specimens. A founder population of 5 individuals was collected for the Australian Wildlife Park and these have since bred in large numbers.

Their diet is not well known with one having regurgitated a rock rat after its capture.

Females deposit their eggs and then wrap around them during their incubation. Following the hatching of the young the mother provides no further care.

Read on to learn more about these remarkable reptiles.


What does the rough-scaled python look like?

The rough-scaled python is the only Australian snake which is recorded to have keeled scales. This gives their body a feeling similar to sandpaper. Their head is distinctive from the neck and is triangular in shape.

It is believed that the keels to the scales will assist them with moving up sandstone crevices.

Across the body their scales are colored a yellowish or fawn which is then covered by a pattern of dark or reddish-brown blotches. On the underside they are colored whitish with only faint markings present.

These reptiles have forward-directed eyes which provide binocular vision when looking at their environment or food.

They will reach a maximum length of up to 2m (6.7ft) long and a weight of 700g (25oz).


What does the rough-scaled python eat?

These animals are carnivores which will feed on small mammals and birds. It is thought that they are an ambush predator which will strike at frugivorous birds in the trees.

Rough-scaled pythons are non-venomous and they must squeeze prey to subdue it rather than biting it and injecting venom.

Compared to their body size they have exceptionally long teeth which are thought to be useful for gripping prey until it can be immobilized.

Rough-Scaled Python

Credit: Reptilefact, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the rough-scaled python?

The rough-scaled python is a native of Australia. Here they are recorded from only a small area in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. A further population is present on Bigge Island.

This species is known from only a few sightings.


What kind of environment does the rough-scaled python live in?

These animals are found in areas of rocky, monsoon-forest where they are often found among gorges. They are found near to water.

They are considered to be highly arboreal spending much of their time in the trees.

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How does the rough-scaled python produce its young?

Mating takes place during the dry season which occurs from July to August in the wild.

A female will deposit between 10 and 14 eggs some 81 to 89 days after mating occurs. These will need to incubate for two months before hatching. During the incubation the mother will coil around the eggs to provide heat.

The mother will provide no further to the young after hatching.


What does the rough-scaled python do with its day?

These animals are primarily active at night when they will emerge to seek out food. During the day they will take shelter in a sandstone cave or among the treetops.

Rough-Scaled Python

Credit: Petr Hamerník, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the rough-scaled python?

These animals are rarely seen and their range is highly remote being far from any major population centers. This has made it difficult to determine the exact size of the population.

Rough-scaled pythons are present in the captive trade. Small numbers may be collected from the wild for new genetics but their habitat is highly inaccessible and this will make it uneconomical for large scale collection to occur.

Much of the current captive population come from animals which were legally collected for display at the Australian Reptile Park.

They are afforded legal protection in Australia.

Quick facts

This species was not listed for western science until 1982. This came from a specimen collected for the Western Australian Museum during 1976.


Swan, M., 2011. Keeping and breeding Australian pythons. Lilydale, Vic.: Mike Swan Herp. Books.

Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles.

2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.

Cowan, M., Wilson, S., Teale, R., Oliver, P., Melville, J., Ellis, R. & Doughty, P. 2018. Morelia carinataThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T42494086A42494094. Downloaded on 28 October 2021. 2021. Rough-scaled Python. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 October 2021].

PerthZooWebsite. 2021. Rough-scaled Python. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 October 2021]. Australian Reptile Park. 2021. Rough Scaled Python - Australian Reptile Park. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 28 October 2021].

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