Python regius

Range: Central and western Africa.

Habitat: Grasslands, edge of open forests. It can also be found in rainforest between
Ghana and Cameron. Lay eggs in abandoned mammal burrows.

Conservation status: Least concern.

Ball (Royal) Python

  • • The name ball python refers to the animal's tendency to curl into a ball when stressed or frightened or because curls round its eggs. The name royal python (from the Latin "regius") is based in part on the story that Cleopatra supposedly wore the snake around her wrist.
    • How to distinguish between pythons and boas: Pythons lay eggs; Boas bear live young.
    • Size: 3-6 feet (mostly 3 feet); one of the smaller pythons, other species can reach 15-20 feet.
    • Color: various (brown, black, orange, yellow, white; Pattern: various (spots, stripes)
    • Gender identification: hard! Males have larger spurs than females.
    • Rectilinear movement because of bulk – stiffen ribs to provide support; lift one set of vertical scales, move forward, repeat.
    • Diet: rodents (in the wild, rats and gerbils; in the zoo, mice); excellent swimmers, may ambush prey by lying in water with only head sticking out. Sense heat of prey using temperature-sensitive pits that recognize temperature changes of only 3/1000 oF. Strike using teeth to hold prey, then constrict and swallow prey whole, head first.
    • Senses: sight and smell good. Nocturnal – Vertical narrow pupil, mostly rods which determine light and dark (cones determine color).
    • Reproduction (once every 2-3 years). Internal fertilization. Oviparous: egg laying (4=10 eggs). Female coils around eggs (as do other pythons) to incubate them. They don’t eat during this period and become very irritable and stressed. Adults do not care for hatchlings.
    • Importance for humans: rodent control, food source, pet trade

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