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Scrub Python Fact File

Appearance

The scrub python or amethystine python is the longest species of python in Australia. They can reach lengths of between 5 and 8m (16.4 and 24.2ft) long. An average weight for the species would be 25kg (55lbs).

Their body is covered with smooth scales which are colored yellowish or golden along its length and patterned with blackish bands that may form a pattern which resembles a net.

On the underside of their body they are colored white or cream.

Scrub pythons have a neck which is wider than their head.

Diet

Scrub pythons are considered to be carnivores. Their large size means they can take down a wide variety of prey ranging from rodents up to wild pigs and wallabies, birds and lizards.

They are a sit and wait predator. They will lie camouflaged until prey approaches and then strike at them.

As a python they do not have venom to help with subduing their prey. Instead prey is captured with their mouth and they then wrap around this and squeeze them with their muscular body. The teeth point backwards to help them grab and hold their prey.

Prey can be found at night using heat sensing pits which are on the front of the head.

Scrub Python

Scientific Name

Simalia kinghorni

Conservation Status

Least Concern

Weight

25kg (55lbs)

Length

5-8m (16.4 and 24.2ft)

Lifespan

20-30 years

Diet

Carnivorous

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Range

Scrub pythons can be found in Australia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. In Australia they can be found in the tropical northern areas of Queensland. They are also found on the Torres Strait Islands.

Habitat

These animals make their home in dry sclerophyll forest, vine thickets, scrub, savanna woodland and montane rainforest.

They will live alongside humans in gardens and urban backyards along with plantations.

Scrub Python

Reproduction

Breeding takes place from late July to late September. Males may fight one another during these periods to gain breeding rights with the females.

These snakes produce a clutch of between 5 and 21 eggs. The eggs will incubate for between 80 and 90 days.

During the incubation period the female will coil around the eggs and this will generate heat for the eggs to incubate. She may ‘shiver’ to help produce this heat. This serves to protect the eggs from predation by goannas and feral pigs.

At hatching the young are 60cm (23.5in) long.

Sexual maturity is tied to both age and length.

Behavior

Scrub pythons are primarily arboreal as a juvenile spending much of their time in the trees. Larger adults will spend much of their time on the ground.

These animals are considered nocturnal and will undertake most of their movement at night.

Scrub pythons are capable swimmers and will move around their habitat by swimming when required.

Scrub Python

Predators and Threats

These snakes may be killed in retaliation for eating chickens by farmers.

Small numbers of these animals are harvested for the pet trade but this is not thought to present a major threat. Indigenous people in parts of their range will also hunt them for food.

Quick facts

The scrub python is also commonly referred to as the amethystine python. This name comes from the similar appearance of their scales to that of polished amethyst.

Under certain lighting they have an iridescent sheen to their scales.

Along with being the largest snake in Australia they are among the longest snakes on Earth.

Scrub Python

Photo Credits

Top

By robertpaulyoung, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Middle One

By bitterbug/Mike Wagner, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Middle Two

By heosemys (Bill Hughes), CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

By Edward Bell, CC BY 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

References

Swanson, S. and Parish, S., 2011. Field Guide To Australian Reptiles. 2nd ed. New South Wales: Pascal Press.

Tallowin, O., Allison, A., Parker, F. & O’Shea, M. 2017. Morelia amethistina. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T177501A1489667. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T177501A1489667.en. Downloaded on 03 April 2021.

Australia Zoo. 2021. Check our our Scrub Pythons at Australia Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://www.australiazoo.com.au/wildlife/our-animals/scrub-python/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Oakvale Wildlife. 2021. Australian Scrub Python | Our Animals | Oakvale Wildlife. [online] Available at: <https://oakvalewildlife.com.au/explore/our-animals/australian-scrub-python> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Skyrail. 2021. Amethystine Python | Skyrail. [online] Available at: <https://www.skyrail.com.au/blog/rainforest-amethystine-python/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Bristol Zoo. 2021. Amethystine python | Pythons at Bristol Zoo | Bristol Zoo. [online] Available at: <https://bristolzoo.org.uk/explore-the-zoo/amethystine-python> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Ralph, A., 2021. Amethystine Python – Daintree Discovery Centre. [online] Daintree Discovery Centre. Available at: <https://www.discoverthedaintree.com/amethystine-python/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Billabong Sanctuary. 2021. Billabong Sanctuary – Australian Native Wildlife Park Townsville. [online] Available at: <https://www.billabongsanctuary.com.au/pythons/> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Buttigieg, M., 2021. Huge mating pythons crash through ceiling as shocked couple watch on. [online] Au.news.yahoo.com. Available at: <https://au.news.yahoo.com/snake-breeding-season-huge-5-metre-mating-pythons-crashed-white-rock-cairns-qld-ceiling-080646934.html> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

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