Reticulated python facts, pictures, video and information: discover the longest snake in the world!
Reticulated Python Facts At A Glance
- Other Name(s): Asiatic reticulated python, ‘retic’
- Scientific name: Python reticulatus
- Type of Animal: Reptile
- Animal Family: Pythonidae
- Where Found: Southeast Asia
- Length: 1.5 to 6.5m (4.9 to 21.3ft)
- Weight: 1 to 75kg (2.2 to 165.3lb)
- Conservation Status: Unassessed
Meet The Reticulated Python: Introduction
The reticulated python is a large snake found in Southeast Asia. It is a member of the python family, Pythonidae. Like all pythons, it is non-venomous, and uses constriction to overcome its prey.
The reticulated python is the longest snake in the world and among the top three heaviest. The reticulated python is the largest snake in Asia. Female reticulated pythons tend to be both larger and heavier than the males.
Although the world’s longest snake, the reticulated python is not the world’s heaviest. That title belongs to the green anaconda (Eunectes murinus), a South American species whose average length doesn’t quite reach that of the python’s.
There are unverified reports of reticulated pythons growing up to 10m (33ft) long. A scientifically verified record does exist of a reticulated python 6.95m (22.8ft) in length and 59 kg (130 lb.) in weight.
Scientific Stuff: Reticulated Python Subspecies and Classification
Three different subspecies of reticulated python are recognized: Python reticulatus reticulatus, Python reticulatus jampeanus and Python reticulatus saputrai. Two of these are dwarf subspecies and are far smaller than Python reticulatus reticulatus.
Some scientists believe that the reticulated python is sufficiently different from the other members of the genus Python to be assigned to a separate genus (Malayopython), along with the Timor python (Malayopython timoriensis). For this reason you may occasionally see the reticulated python being referred to as Malayopython reticulatus.
The reticulated python is a member of the order Squamata – which includes all lizards and snakes – and the suborder Serpentes, which contains all snakes.
What Does The Reticulated Python Look Like?
The reticulated python gets its name from the reticulated (i.e. net-like) pattern of irregular black-bordered diamond-like shapes and other smaller markings. The scales are smooth and most of them are of a single color, giving the pattern a ragged appearance.
You can see a captive reticulated python in the video below:
The snake’s pattern and the coloration are highly variable. Typically, the species is a mix of black, brown, olive, yellow and white. The python’s head is brown and marked with three black lines: one on top of the head and one on either side of the head. The eyes are orange with vertical pupils.
The reticulated python is found in South Asia and Southeast Asia, from India to the Philippines. The species is present on numerous small islands within its range thanks to its excellent swimming abilities.
The reticulated python occurs in various habitats, ranging from tropical rainforest and wetlands to grassland forests. It prefers habitats that are hot and humid and is frequently found near a body of water such as a river, stream or a lake.
On land, the reticulated python moves using two methods: serpentine movement and rectilinear movement.
Using serpentine movement, the snake curves its body from side to side in an S-shape. When using rectilinear movement, the snake doesn’t curve its body, but instead propels itself forwards by ‘walking’ on its stomach muscles.
Rectilinear movement is the most common method of movement for the reticulated python, especially for larger individuals. Although it’s not the fastest way of getting around, it is extremely quiet – ideal for an ambush predator!
An excellent swimmer, the reticulated python has been found far out at sea. It is also able to climb trees.
Senses And Communication
The reticulated python is nearly deaf and has poor eyesight. The snake therefore relies on its senses of smell and touch, and its ability to sense vibrations and heat to gain information about its environment.
Reticulated pythons communicate with each other using movements that create vibrations as well as by emitting various pheromones (chemical signals) that indicate the age and sex of the individual.
Reticulated Python Facts: Breeding
The reticulated python is oviparous (reproduces by laying eggs).
Mating usually occurs during February and March. Individuals travel considerable distances to find suitable environmental conditions for breeding. The species requires an abundance of prey as well as heat and humidity to reproduce successfully. Depending on conditions, a female reticulated python can produce a clutch of eggs every 1 to 3 years.
A typical clutch consists of 25 to 50 eggs, although females have been known to lay over 100 eggs at a time. The optimal incubation temperature is between 31 and 32°C (88 and 90°F), and the female coils around her eggs to regulate the temperature. The eggs hatch after an incubation period of around 85 to 90 days.
The young pythons use an egg tooth to break out of the eggs. The hatchlings measure around 61cm (2ft) and weigh approximately 140g.
What Do Reticulated Pythons Eat?
The reticulated python preys on mammals and, less frequently, on birds. Smaller individuals (up to 4m (13ft) long) target smaller animals such as rats, shrews and bats. Larger individuals also prey on animals such as deer, monkeys, pigs, civets and binturongs. A reticulated python can swallow prey animals up to its own weight, and up to a quarter of its length.
Like other pythons, the reticulated python is an ambush predator: it lies hidden either on the jungle floor or in the water and waits until a target is within reach before striking with its jaws.
With the victim in its grasp, the snake then coils around its prey. Squeezing with its muscular body, the snake prevents blood from flowing freely around the victim’s body.
The reticulated python’s jaws open wide enough to allow it to swallow its prey whole. The unfortunate victim is swallowed head first.
The reticulated python’s large size is a deterrent to most predators. Only other large animals, such as crocodiles, prey on adult reticulated pythons. The snake’s eggs and hatchlings, however, are vulnerable to predation from a range of animals, including hawks, monitor lizards and cobras.
Is The Reticulated Python Dangerous To Humans?
The reticulated python is not venomous, but can cause serious injuries to humans both by biting and constriction. The species is also one of the few snakes known to have eaten humans, although these cases, and attacks in general, are very rare.
Is The Reticulated Python Endangered?
Although the reticulated python has not been assessed by the IUCN, the species is not considered to be threatened.
However, its large size makes the reticulated python a sought-after species. It is hunted as a source of snake skin, meat and to be sold as an exotic pet. The trade of reticulated python skins is regulated by CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) in order to safeguard the survival of the species.
Reticulated Python Facts: Related Pages
Now that you’re a reticulated python expert, check out some other awesome animal pages …
- Discover more weird and wonderful animals here: A to Z Animals
- Find out about more rainforest animals: Rainforest Animals List
- Learn how scientists group animals into orders and families: Animal Classification
- Become an animal expert: Animals: The Ultimate Guide To The Animal Kingdom