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Python

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Python
Carpet Python.jpg
Scientific Classification
Genera

Pythons are non-venomous constricting snakes from the subfamily Pythoninae. Although similar to Boas, pythons can be distinguishable by the possession of teeth on the premaxilla, a small bone at the very front and the center of the upper jaw.[1] Because of how big pythons actually are, pythons move by traveling in a straight line, which is known as "rectilinear progression." This is accomplished by stiffening the ribs to provide support, then lifting a set of ventral scales and moving them forward so the loose ends grip the surface, pushing the python in a forward motion. This movement also works well in the trees that some pythons seem to slither up often. They only move about 1 mile per hour on open ground. But since they don't have to chase their food they don't need to be able to move quickly. They can live up to 20-25 years in the wild and sometimes less in captivity if not properly taken care of.[2]

Anatomy

X-ray of a python

Pythons bodies from head to tail range in size from 3-20 feet in length. The python is the longest species of snake in the world. There has been a report of a python to be about 49 feet long found in Java, Indonesia. Some species have vestigial bones of the pelvis and rear legs, which are very noticeable in the form of anal spurs on each of the cloaca. These spurs are much larger in males than females, and are used by the male to stimulate the female during copulation. Pythons display very unique patterns on their scales while others are a brownish-red color. They are usually created with camouflage for their habitat or environment that they live in.[3] Pythons have one more bone in their head than boas do and some additional teeth. The biggest difference is that pythons lay eggs while boas give birth to live young. [4]

Reproduction

Pythons lay eggs where they put them into a pile. They coil themselves around the pile of eggs until all eggs have hatched. Since pythons cannot regulate their internal body temperature, they cannot keep their eggs warm. They raise the temperature of their eggs by small movements of the adult pythons body, producing these sorts of movements is called "shivering." There are many documented cases of parental behavior with pythons but this is only one of the very few. Pythons getting ready to breed differ between the different sexes. The female should be at least ten feet and the males should be only about eight feet long before they breed. Before breeding, the pythons are treated to a cool temperature of about (65 degrees F) for one or two months. They do not feed during this time. The purpose of this technique is to create ovulation in the females and increase hormone levels in the males which leads to healthy sperm production. The female python is fed frequently after what they call "the cooling period" and after about three weeks is placed in the male's cage. They will mate by internal fertilization and the mating will last for many hours. The female will not eat during the period and during incubation of her eggs. She will hopefully lay about 15-25 eggs depending on the amount of sperm deposited by the male python. The eggs will be laid around two or three months after the mating process begins. She will coil around the eggs and brood them by shivering. Sphagnum moss can be added to maintain humidity or the warmth of the eggs. The eggs will hatch in about two months.[5]

Ecology

Python constriction.

Pythons are mostly found in Northeast Australia, Southeast Asia, Africa, South America, and sometimes in the tropical rainforests. Also, they may live in the Philippines & Indonesia. Most all species of python live in dense underbrush of tropical rainforest. Also, they are found in mostly wooded habitats and bamboo habitats. They usually hide or burrow under the plants that are spread among the forest floor. anything they can hide under or burrow into they are usually found under or among.[6] They are very experienced climbers and like all snakes, they are also very capable swimmers.[7] Although pythons and boas are not poisonous, they kill their prey by constriction, the large species have killed and eaten people. Constricting also means wrapping themselves around the prey and suffocating it to the point where it dies within the python's grasp.[8]. The snake then begins the process of unhinging its jaws and swallowing the prey whole, usually the prey goes down head first. The way this is accomplished is the muscular contractions that pull the prey down the snake's throat and into the pythons stomach. The way pythons and boas breath when swallowing their prey is by a special tube in the bottom of its mouth that stays open to one side to take in air. Pythons have predators just like every other animal in the animal kingdom. Small, young pythons may be attacked and eaten by a variety or birds, large frogs, carnivorous animals, and spiders. Larger pythons are attacked by eagles and lions and even leopards. [9]

Molting

Main Article: Molting
Python shedding skin.

The skin-shedding process is called molting. Before molting, a python will be less active than usual. The pythons eyes will eventually become clouded or a whitish color because the skin covering the eyes is shed along with the rest of the body of the python. The python loosens the skin around their mouth and head by rubbing its nose on a rough surface. The snake then crawls out of the old skin, turning it inside out in the process. Pythons molt depending on its age and how active it is. Young pythons shed more often than older ones do. Snakes that live in warm climate areas are active for longer periods than those that live in cooler climates. As a result, they molt more often. Some pythons of the tropics shed six or more times a year do to the climate.[10]

Gallery

References