The reticulated python is a huge snake living in the jungles of south-east Asia. Reticulated pythons share some of their range with the famous orangutan. These large snakes frequently live near lakes or rivers and were created with a strong ability to swim. They are thought to be the longest snake in the world, but they are not the largest. Only the green anaconda is larger and may be longer. These amazing snakes are also long lived. If disturbed, the reticulated python will, like most snakes, hiss.
Not all reticulated pythons are brown and black like the one in the picture at the top. In fact, some are white, yellow, or even purple-ish. The picture below is of an albino reticulated python. It has different colors because it does not have the substances that create dark skin.
The longest recorded reticulated python measured 32 feet 9.5 inches (10 m) long. They weigh at most 440 pounds (200 kg). Despite this, most of these snakes are much smaller. The average reticulated python is a smaller but still huge 22 feet (6.7 m) long. There have been reports, especially several decades or centuries ago, of snakes that were 150 feet (45.7 m) long. These reports, however, have not been verified. The largest reticulated python kept in captivity was a 28.5 foot (8.68 m) long, 320 pound (145 kg) female named Colossus. She lived at the Pittsburgh Zoo. As with many snakes, female reticulated pythons are normally larger than males.
These snakes are not picky eaters and will eat almost any animal they can get their hands – or jaws – on. Like most large snakes, reticulated pythons are slow and non-venomous. Instead of chasing their prey, they lie around and wait for a meal to drop by for a permanent visit. Since they do not need to chase their prey, they usually move at only one mile (1.6 km) per hour. Instead of killing their prey with venom, reticulated pythons will constrict their prey, squeezing it tightly until the animal suffocates. Within minutes the snake can kill even large animals such as wild pig, deer, or crocodiles. These animals use their amazing swimming powers to catch crocodiles. Because they usually move so slowly, reticulated pythons have an extremely slow metabolism. This means that they use energy from food very slowly. Due to this, reticulated pythons can go for long periods of time without eating. One captive reticulated python once went 23 months without eating! Even if food was given to it, the snake refused to eat it. After almost two years, the snake started eating normally.
Deer are probably the hardest animals for snakes to eat for one reason: antlers. Because snakes cannot chew their food, they swallow it whole, and it is kind of hard to swallow something with antlers whole. If the antlers are small enough, the snake will just swallow and digest them. Sometimes, when eating an animal with larger antlers, the snake will bend them back to line up with the animal’s body. It will then swallow the animal like usual. Instead of the normal swallowing animals head first, sometimes these snakes will swallow an animal rear first. It will then wait for digestive juices to break down the animals until the antlers drop off. If a snake does not deal with antlered prey correctly, it can deal with severe consequences. Some dead snakes have been spotted with the antlers of a dead deer sticking out of their stomach. In cases like these, the snake killed and swallowed the deer only to be killed by the deer’s antlers. This applies to many snakes that constrict their food and not just reticulated pythons.
After reaching two to four years of age, reticulated pythons start breeding from September to March. During this time, both male and female will fast. The females, which might fast until the eggs are laid or even until they hatch, lay from fifteen to one hundred eggs each year. Before the eggs hatch, the female coils around the eggs to protect them from predators and keep them warm. If the eggs start to get to cold, the female will “shiver.” The vibrations of her muscles create heat that warms up the eggs. When people are cold, shivering creates heat for them in the same way.
Right after hatching, the two foot (60 cm) long reticulated python babies are on their own. If they are lucky, they can live for around twenty years in the wild or even forty in captivity.
Don’t forget to scroll down and leave your guess about what the next animal is!
- Smithsonian Handbooks Reptiles and Amphibians. Mark O’Shea and Tim Halliday, Smithsonian Institution, ISBN: 978-0-7566-6009-3
- Animals of the world. Tom Jackson, ISBN: 978-1780191089
- Animal: The Definitive Visual Guide. David Burnie and Don E. Wilson, Smithsonian Institution, ISBN: 978-0-7566-6002-4
- Reticulated python – Shell Kinney
- Albino reticulated python – tychay
- Mystery animal – Public domain