Reproductive biology

All pythons reproduce by laying eggs. Python eggs range from the size of a grape in the case of the pygmy python,

Antaresia perthensis, to the size of a medium white potato in the case of the reticulated python, P. reticulatus. Python eggs are white, and when freshly laid the shells are taut and leathery to the touch. Typically, all or most of the eggs in a clutch adhere together for the duration of incubation.

When eggs are laid, female pythons tightly wrap coils around the eggs and remain with their clutches until they hatch. During incubation, the females of many species of pythons are capable of elevating their body temperatures. A female accomplishes this thermal feat by increasing her metabolic rate either through rhythmic muscle contractions that give the impression that she is shivering or by isotonic muscle contractions that allow her to remain motionless. Some pythons are observed to supplement their thermal exertions during incubation by briefly leaving their clutches to bask and then returning to the task of incubating the eggs when their bodies have been warmed by the sun.

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