Indian Python

python molurus

Classification

  • Domain eukarya-This domain contains eukaryotic cells. These animals are unicellular, multicellular, and have a nucleus. Cell division occurs by mitosis.
  • Kingdom animalia-The animals in this kingdom are all heterotrophes and it does not contain prokaryotes. They are all multicellular.
  • phylum chordata-All animals have a notochord at some part of development, animals have bilateral symmetry and all animals have an endoskeleton.
  • Subphylum vertebrata-Animals blood contains hemoglobin and a well developed body cavity system. Movements are provided by muscles attached to endoskeleton.
  • Class reptilia-Animals here have a 3 or 4 chambered heart horny epidermal scales, paired limbs with 5 toes, and lungs instead of gills.
  • Order squamata-Animals here have flexibility between the bones of the back of the skull, teeth are set in the inner side of the jaw which are replaced from time to time. There is loss of the belly and ribs.
  • Genus python-Pythons here are constrictors that means that they wrap around there prey until the prey cant breath, this group of pythons do not have fangs, and unlike other snakes python has two lungs.
  • Species-python molurus

General Description

There are two subspecies of Indian pythons. One is P.molurus bivitatus and the second P.molurus molurus.

Weight-The python weighs up to 137 kg (300 lbs), but the average weight is between 70-129 lbs. P. molars bivitatus is the heavier group and the P. molurus is the smaller and lighter.

Length-Python can grow up to 7.6 m (about 25 feet), but the longest python that was discovered was 21 feet. There may be rare ones up to 30 feet that have been observed.

Colors-As snakes mature they do change color within the species. There is a color difference between a male and a female Indian python. Indian pythons are either darkly colored with shades of brown rectangles on a black background, ( P. molurus bivitatus) or light colored with tan triangles on cream background( P. molars, molurus.

Life span-Indian pythons can live an average between 20 to 30 years.

Geographic range-The Indian python habitat can be found across the lower half of the Asian continent. P. molurus molurus can be found in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal. P. molurus bivitatus can be found from Myanmar eastward across southern Asia through China and Indonesia. It is not present on the island of Sumatra.

Habitat-The Indian python lives in river valleys, woodlands, rain forests, scrub lands, grassy marshes, and many more places. There must be a water source nearby. It prefers very damp terrain. The habitat must look like it has a sufficient cover. Average January temperature of the regions where pythons live are above 9.3 degrees Celsius. There are some populations that live in areas with average January temperatures as low as -0.5 degrees Celsius. The average of precipitation in the area is more than 0.5 cm in January.

Diet- The Indian python can eat animals that are bigger than them such as antelopes, leopards(that are smaller). as well as birds, rats, pigs, monkeys and even deer. The usually hunt at night which makes them nocturnal. They find their pray by its scent , body movement and body heat. They locate their prey, catch them and coil themselves around it suffocating and crushing the prey to death. Their favorite meal is mammals. If they have a heavy meal, snakes can survive up to 2 years without food.

Predators- A common predators are humans. Pythons are endangered species and classified as "Near Threatened" on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. They are killed for their skin, meat of by some populations for medical purposes. Other predators include eagles and crocodiles.

General facts- Python skin is used to make boots, belts, wallets , meat and medication. The decrease in their population is also greatly due to the destruction of their habitat by agriculture development. Pythons are protected by the Tamil Nadu Government. At this point trade is prohibited and illegal.

Physical Adaptations

The python has poor eye sight but is still a fantastic predator and is able to sense their prey and catch them. They can sense the preys' body heat with their heat sensitive pits on their head and well developed sense of smell, allowing them to detect prey that are warmer than the environment. Indian pythons are non venomous so they use their jaws and coil to suffocate their prey. Once the prey is dead, the python dislocates its jaw and stretches its skin which is very elastic to allow for the prey to be swallowed in whole. Their neutral skin color and tones (brown, tan, cream, black) allows them to hide easily in bushes or grass which helps them to blend with the ground and environment. They are as good predators on the ground as they are in water. Pythons are excellent swimmers and depend on water habitat. They can stay underwater without breathing for up to 30 minutes.

Behavioral Adaptations

Indian pythons are solitary creatures. They do mate and are the only time when they are seen in pairs. Mating takes place usually in November through January. The female lays 20 to 100 eggs which usually hatch in 60 to 80 days. The female rarely leaves the eggs. She coils herself around the eggs and " shivers" over the eggs to raise her body temperature until the eggs hatch. Indian Pythons are very lazy hunters and they trick their prey more than they hunt. Pythons are also nocturnal and love to hunt at night. Once a python has a large meal it does not have to eat for a long time, even up to 2 years. They do better in warmer habitat and when the colder months arrive such as October, some of them hibernate to wait for the cooler months to pass.