Thursday, May 21, 2009

Indian Rock Python | Python molurus

Labels: Indian Python, Black-tailed Python, Rock Python, Ajgar

Binomial name: Python molurus
Common name:
Indian Rock Python

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae
Genus: Python
Species: P. molurus


Distinguishing Features: Large, thick-bodied; smooth scales; bright, blotched pattern.

Average Length: 3 m; At Birth: 50 cm; Maximum: 6 m.

Description: Indian Rock Python is a heavy-bodied, smooth-scaled snake with lance-shaped head and short tail. The bright, blotched pattern may be yellowish to dark brown. Pythons of the hill forests of the Western Ghats and Assam are darker, and those of the Deccan and East Coast are usually lighter. The underside is whitish, yellowish or light orange. Pythons have ‘spurs’ which are vestigial legs on either side of the anal vent. These are larger in males. These snakes are equipped with heat sensors, small slits near the nostrils, similar in function to the ‘pits’ of the pit vipers. The other species of Python found in India, the Regal Python (Python reticulatus) grows to over 10 metres and is possibly the largest snake in the world. It is reported from the Nicobars.

: These are scattered throughout most of India. Pythons are found in estuarine mangrove forests, arid scrub jungle and the cool dense rain forests up-to 2000 m above sea level.

Habitat: Pythons can adapt in many types of environment but they require large undisturbed areas to hunt and hide in. They live in rocky clefts and caves, abandoned mammal burrows, hollow trees, dense water reed and mangrove thickets. They generally prefer a place near permanent water source.

Habits: This species bask in the sun during the day time. At night, they hang around in search of prey or lie in wet near a water hole or a regular mammal pathway. Very large Pythons seem unwilling to move far and often establish a territory and a preferred residence. After a heavy meal, they become lethargic and may rest for several days or even weeks during digestion.

Young: During the months of March and June, the female lays up-to 100 eggs in a safe undisturbed hole, cave or hollow and remains coiled on them for 60 to 80 days. The size of the eggs is often like the duck eggs, but sometimes it may vary. The female may contract her body muscles rhythmically, thus incubating the clutch, affording temperature and humidity control and protection.

Food: Pythons mainly feed on warm-blooded prey ranging in size from mice and birds to jackal, civets and even deer and wild boar. They stalk prey silently, striking suddenly and tightening around the victim. Pythons do not crush their prey but hamper their respiration and heart beat. There is no authentic case of a human being eaten by one in India. Pythons are extremely valuable predators on agricultural pests.

Status: Pythons are killed throughout their range for their fine skin; thus, this beautiful species is now locally extinct in many areas. They are now partly protected by the Government of India and Python skin export is banned. In Kerala and Tamil Nadu, Poliyars and other tribals eat Python meat and the fat is favoured in many areas for supposed medical uses.

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