Blackheaded python

Aspidites melanocephalus

TAXONOMY

Aspidites melanocephalus Kreft, 1864, Bowen, Queensland, Australia.

OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Pythons à tête noire; German: Schwarzkopfpythons. PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This is a slender, muscular snake with a long head that is indistinct from the neck. The head and neck of this python look as if they have just been dipped into shiny black lacquer.

DISTRIBUTION

This species is found across the northern third of Australia.

HABITAT

These pythons are most commonly encountered in wooded savanna and open forest, but they are reported from tropical forest, grasslands, scrub lands, open sclerophyll forest, and open rocky habitats.

BEHAVIOR

Black-headed pythons often inhabit the burrows of other animals, but they are capable of excavating burrows on their own.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

This is a long, slender animal with a large head, large eyes, and long, straight teeth. This species of Morelia has large head plates. It is one of the least-known pythons; most adults of record are 8-11 ft (2.4-3.4 m) in length.

DISTRIBUTION

This python is endemic to Halmahera, a large island in the Maluku Province of eastern Indonesia.

HABITAT

The Halmahera python is found in primary and secondary forest; it is equally at home on the ground or in the trees.

BEHAVIOR

Halmahera pythons are generally docile and deliberate in their actions.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Little is known about the diet of this species. Local people say that it is often found at fruit bat rookeries.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Not known. As of August 2002, this is the only python species that has not been bred in captivity.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Halmahera python skins are harvested, but the numbers taken are not known, because until recently the species has been identified as Morelia amethistina.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

Halmahera pythons are eaten by some peoples in Halmahera, and the species is persecuted as a predator of domestic chickens. ♦

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