Behavior

Little is known about the behavior of pythons in nature. The 1990s saw the first radio-tracking studies documenting the behavior, natural history, and ecology of several python taxa, mostly in Australia. Pythons tend to be nocturnal, but they often are encountered moving or basking during the day. Faced with a perceived threat, a python will display an instinctive and stereotypic defensive behavior. Most python species incorporate hissing, striking, and biting into their defense, along with the release of musk and feces. The ball python, Python regius, rarely actively defends itself, preferring to coil the body into a ball, with the head pulled into the center of the coils. The rough-scaled python, Morelia carinata, exhibits an open-mouth threat display, extending its open mouth toward the perceived threat and exhibiting its extraordinarily long teeth while waving the head from side to side.

Most pythons occur in temperate or tropical climates. There is anecdotal evidence that suggests that most taxa are inactive for a portion of the year, during which time breeding takes place. The timing of this inactive period usually is dictated by seasonal heat, drought, or cool weather. The di

Green python (Morelia viridis) wrapped around a tree branch. (Photo by JLM Visuals. Reproduced by permission.)

amond python, Morelia s. spilota, of southeastern Australia hibernates during the winter months, often choosing rock shelters with northern and western exposures.

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