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Burmese Python

16 Apr

Python bivittatus bivittatus

Burmese Python  Python bivittatus bivittatus Everglades Nick Scobel_files

Burmese Python found in the Everglades (photo courtesy of Nick Scobel)

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus bivittatus) everglades national park

Another Burmese Python found in the Everglades (photo courtesy of Todd Pierson)

Burmese Python Python bivittatus bivittatus Hong Kong

Burmese Python found in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Kevin Caldwell)

Burmese Python  Python bivittatus bivittatus  Hong Kong

Another shot of Burmese Python (photo courtesy of Kevin Caldwell)

Burmese Python Python molurus

Burmese Python in captivity (photo courtesy of David Rivera)

Matt R. KyleBurmese Python Python bivittatus bivittatus captive

Head shot of Burmese Python (photo courtesy of Matt R. Kyle)

Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)

Burmese Python found in Bangladesh (photo courtesy of Scott Trageser) http://www.naturestills.com

Burmese Python Python bivittatus bivittatus Khao Yai Apiradee Loharungsikul

Burmese Python crossing the road in Khao Yai (photo courtesy of Apiradee Loharungsikul)

burmese python Python bivittatus bivittatus

Burmese Python on riverbank in Hong Kong (photo courtesy of Rob Ferguson)

Burmese Pythons python bivittatus bivittatus for sale in Vietnam

Burmese Pythons for sale in Vietnamese market (photo courtesy of Alex Krohn)

English name: Burmese Python
Scientific name: Python bivittatus bivittatus (formerly Python molurus bivittatus)
Thai name: Ngu Larm

Description: To 820cm long. The second largest snake in Asia, and one of the five largest snakes in the entire world. Head is large with large labial scales lining the mouth. Eyes are large and brown. The body is yellowish-brown above fading into grayish-brown on the lower sides. Large brown blotches with black borders line both the top and sides, but are larger and darker on the top. The head has a large dark arrow-shaped marking on the top with a light line in the middle and thick tan lines bordering each side, as well as both pale and dark brown lines extending down and back from the eye.

Similar Species: The Reticulated Python lacks markings on the top of its head and has the “reticulated” pattern of intertwined yellow, brown, and black on its body rather than simple brown blotches.
Russell’s Viper is smaller and has a stout head.

Habitat: Found in grassland, open woodland, and swamps. Is comfortable both in trees and in the water, though larger adults spend more time on the ground as they grow. Does not adapt to urban areas as well as the Reticulated Python and is not typically found within the city of Bangkok itself.

Contribution to the ecosystem: Helps control rodent populations by eating rats and mice, as well as larger mammals, monitors, and birds. Young pythons can be eaten by monitors and large birds of prey.

Danger to humans: Despite not having any venom, the Burmese Python can be a threat to humans on size alone. Even the younger ones can inflict a nasty bite with their large mouths and long teeth, and larger pythons can constrict and potentially suffocate a human. Care should be taken when going near a large python, and pythons over two meters long should not be handled except by those experienced with large snakes (preferably a team of at least two for any snake over three to four meters long). This being said, pythons rarely attack humans and very few fatalities have been credibly reported.

Conservation status and threats: Habitat loss, collection for the pet trade, and hunting for meat, folk medicine, and skins have led the Burmese Python to be considered a Threatened Species and be listed on Appendix II of CITES. It is rare in the Bangkok area.

Interesting facts: Like other pythons, the Burmese Python has heat receptors under certain facial scales that allow it to sense warm-blooded prey, even in the dark.

The Burmese Python is a macrostomatan (‘big-mouthed’) snake that can separate its loosely attached jaws to swallow food 4-5 times larger in diameter than its own head.

Introduced Burmese Pythons have become common in Florida in the United States and are considered an ecological hazard there due to their predation on native wildlife.

References:
Snakes of Taiwan: Python bivittatus bivittatus
Wikipedia: Burmese Python
USGS Fact Sheet: Python molurus bivittatus
National Geographic: Burmese Python
Siam-Info: Boidae
Digimorph: Python molurus, Burmese Python
Thailand Office of Environmental Planning and Policy: A Checklist of Amphibians and Reptiles in Thailand
A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
A Field Guide to the Snakes of South Vietnam
Snakes of Thailand and their Husbandry

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