Blood python

Python brongersmai

TAXONOMY

Python brongersmai Stull, 1938, Singapore. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Short python, short-tailed python; French: Python malais; German: Buntpython.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Average adults of this heavy-bodied species are 4-4.7 ft (1.2-1.4 m) in length. The maximum length approaches 8.5 ft (2.6 m). In most populations there are several color phases, including red, brown, yellow, and orange, with red being the most common.

I Python reticulatus I Python brongersmai

DISTRIBUTION

The species occurs in the lowlands of eastern Sumatra; on islands in the Strait of Malacca, including Bangka, Riau, and the Lingga islands; and throughout Western Malaysia, barely entering southwestern Thailand. The species is not believed to occur in Singapore, despite that being the type locality.

HABITAT

Blood pythons are found in primary and secondary forest, open woodlands, and dense bamboo. The species appears to thrive in the palm-oil plantations of eastern Sumatra. They are encountered under piles of leaves and fronds that are trimmed from the palm-oil palms, and they are seen seeking shelter in burrows.

BEHAVIOR

When forced to defend itself, a blood python will face its attacker and strike. If pressed, it may eject feces and musk while thrashing its tail. Its physical presence is emphasized by flattening its body and moving in quick jerks, thereby drawing attention to its large girth and increasing the impression of its size.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

At all ages this species feeds predominantly on rodents. REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

A blood python usually becomes sexually mature in its third year. Females are usually the larger sex, but older males sometimes attain equal size. The eggs of this species measure about 3-3.5 in (7.6-8.9 cm) in length. Clutch size ranges up to 29 eggs. Hatchlings are about 18 in (46 cm) in length. Babies are patterned as adults and usually tan in color.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Not threatened, but about 50,000 skins a year are reported to CITES by Indonesia, the largest producer.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

This species is commonly kept in captivity. The source of most live juveniles exported to captivity is eggs harvested from gravid females brought to skinning businesses. ♦

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