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BellaOnline's Reptiles and Amphibians Editor

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The Burmese Python

Guest Author - Sylvie Leochko

The Burmese Python is one of the 6 largest snake species in the world. It is also one of the largest subspecies of the Indian Python. Its natural habitat is located in the Southern and Southeast Asia, in particular: Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Northern continental Cambodia, Indonesia on Java, Bali, Sumbawa, Eastern India, Southern China, Southern Sulawasi, Southeast Bangladesh and Western Bhutan.

This carnivore feeds on appropriately sized birds, mammals and reptiles such as: mice, rats, rabbits, poultry, pigs, goats, even alligators in the Southern part of Florida. Although it is usually known for its docile personality, especially in the pet trade, there have been attacks reported on pet handlers and children. Some of these attacks resulted in injuries while others were deadly. These attacks are usually caused by poor caring of these reptiles.

When the Burmese Python finds a potential prey, it bites the victim then will coil itself around the body. Then it will tighten its muscles by constricting its prey. The death occurs by suffocation caused by constriction. Its jaws are very flexible, allowing it to swallow its prey whole. An odd fact about this snake species is that the size of its heart, its intestines and the level of stomach acid will change following a meal. Before it eats, the acidity level of the stomach will be minimal but will increase following a meal. The intestines will be of normal size prior to a meal but will go through hypertrophy following a meal. Finally, the ventricles of the heart will increase up to 40% in order to help the snake digest its prey.

The size of this snake species is enormous in girth, in length and in weight. It averages between 5 to 7 m (16 to 23 ft) in length and can reach up to 90 kg (200 lbs) in weight. Its girth can be as large as a telephone pole.

This snake species is known to go through a process called brumation, during the winter season. This process is similar to hibernation but differ in the fact that during this resting period, the reproduction system of the Burmese Python prepares itself for the mating season, which occurs in the early spring. During the brumation, it will rest either in a hollow tree, in a hole of the riverbank or underneath rocks.

This solitary snake can be observed in company of another snake, which is female, only during the mating season. Then, the female will lay several clutches of egg in March and April. Each clutch may contain between 12 and 36 eggs. The female will lay up to 100 eggs per mating season. In order to keep the eggs warm during gestation, the female will twitch her muscles and shiver while wrapped around the eggs.

The hatchlings will use their egg tooth to break the shell and will go through their first skin shedding process before leaving their egg. Once they leave the eggs, the hatchlings are on their own and go hunting for their first meal.

Young Burmese Pythons are usually climbing up trees until they grow so much that their sizes make it difficult for them to reach such heights. These reptiles usually live near by bodies of water such as: marshes, swamps and river valleys. They are great swimmers. In fact, they can be submerged up to 30 minutes. As this reptile reaches its adult size, it will mostly stay on the ground, hiding in tall grass.

The presence of the Burmese Python in Southern Florida is not natural as it is due to the fact that snakes keepers release their pet into the wilderness once it reaches enormous sizes, making it difficult for them to keep them in their houses. This snake species is considered an invasive species. One of the problems it causes is the fact that it feeds on endangered species. The other problem is the rapid increase in population which, according to experts, will cover 1/3 of the continental US by the end of the 21st century.

On the other hand, the Burmese Python is on the endangered list, in their natural habitat. The three main reasons for their decreasing population are based on human exploitation. The first type of exploitation is the pet trade. The second type is based on the harvesting of their skin to create leather products. The third type of exploitation is done caused by the food industry as they sell the snake's meat, especially in China as is it considered a culinary delicacy.

As you can see, the Burmese Python is an amazing species! Why not protect it from its ultimate predator? Humans!

Here are some resources linked to the Burmese Python!

















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A Ball Python in a Tree
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Content copyright © 2014 by Sylvie Leochko. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Sylvie Leochko. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact BellaOnline Administration for details.

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