Species Saturday

Spontaneous Species Day ; the intimidating Reticulated python (Python reticulatus)


Recently there have been a large variety of snakes at camp… As the water stays high, it’s fantastic to spot and observe such variety so easily. This week, Pau Brugues (Project Manager) tells us about one of his favourite slithering species – the awesome Reticulated python (Python reticulatus)…
“The Reticulated python is not a snake that we normally see in the forest or in camp; however, you never know when you can find it in the kitchen when you go for your morning tea or in a bin when you throw some garbage in… Be aware!
This specie is widely distributed throughout South-east Asia, been common in the lowlands of Borneo, at elevations below 1.000m. Reticulatus means netlike, referring to the netlike markings on the body. It holds the record as the longest snake in the world, having a documented total length of up to 10m

Image credit here. Copyright © Dr. Zoltan Takacs.

Characteristics The head is quite characteristic, been flattened slightly and almost guitar-shaped, while other notable features are the vertical pupil of yellowish eyes and the conspicuous pits on the anterior rostrum. The top of the head is brown with a dark streak down the middle. The sides of the head are lighter in colour, and there is a dark stripe running diagonally from behind the eye to the side of the neck. The body is tan to brown, with a dark, chain-shaped pattern running down the back, edged in golden-yellow. Along the sides below each link are a row of diamond-shaped dark spots with white centres.
The average length for an adult individual can range from 4.5 meters to 8 meters; however specimens up to 10 meters have been documented. The adult weight can be over 100Kg, but the average is around 60Kg-90Kg. That makes the Reticulated Python the longest snake in the world, but not the biggest one, as the Green Anaconda (Eunectes murinus) has a documented record up to 200Kg.  
HabitatReticulated pythons are among most common snakes in Borneo, occurring in almost all lowland habitats, including towns. Though generally terrestrial, they are also common in rivers.
Feeding

November 2009 – python found in the
kitchen!

The Reticulated Python’s diet consists of birds, mammals of different sizes including deer, pigs and bears and on very rare occasions possibly humans.  Pythons will typically wait in hiding for prey to move close by before striking.  Is not venomous; like other members of the Boa family it will use its large muscular body to constrict and suffocate its prey.  The muscle mass of the jaws forms a prominent bulge behind the eyes and ensures a powerful grip with a hundred fearsomely long and curved teeth.  Their curved teeth hold onto their prey and they kill the animals they catch by wrapping around them and squeezing. The animal is quickly unable to breath and its heart may be unable to pump blood.  Pythons can kill their prey in minutes and they swallow their food whole.  The entire animal is digested in the snake’s stomach except for fur or feathers, which are passed with the snakes waste.
Among the largest fully documented prey items we can find a Sun Bear of 23Kg which took up to 10 weeks to digest and pigs of more than 60Kg. We don’t see this snake really often in the forest, but more than once they have decided to visit us in camp… normally around the kitchen area, looking for rats or Ballpen… ” 
Thanks Pau! What a awesome species to have right next to the rice and camp cat! Join Pau this Autumn or in 2014 by signing up to be a OuTrop Volunteer here! 

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