Python

Python
Setswana Name: 
Tlhware
Scientific Name: 
Python sebae

Size: 300 - 500cm; max 560cm

Description

The African rock python is Africa’s largest snake with a strong build and stout structure. It has a triangle head with fragmented head shields. It has heat sensitive pits on two of iits upper labials and 4-6 of the lower labials. The scales on its body are very small, smooth and are found in 78-95 rows . There is a large, dark spearhead mark on the crown of the head, and dark and light bands radiating from the eye to the lip.

Its body is grey-green or grey-brown, with dark brown, black edged bars and blotches on top. It has irregularly connected sinous dark brown bands that may form isolated blotches on the flanks. The belly is white with dark speckles. The younger pythons are much more bright in colour.

Behaviour

Pythons often bask, especially after feeding or during sloughing (changing skins), and are very fond of water where they lie or hunt. Prey is ambushed and constricted, usually at dusk or after dark. Adults take small bucks, monkey and others of the sort; they will also include fish, leguaans and even crocodiles in their diet.

Although they can swallow very large prey, but are vulnerable to attack by wild dogs and hyenas  when they are swollen with food.

Pythons can fast for long periods of time (up to two-and half years has been recorded in captivity!). They can be good pets, but some never tame and the adults grown too large to handle.  They can lunge and bite readily in defence.  It has very large teeth and can inflict painful, ripping wounds. This is only snake large enough to consider humans edible, although them actually attacking a human is very, very rare.

Pythons are a protected species in Botswana.

Habitat

Pythons are found commonly in open savanna regions, particularly in rocky areas and riverine scrub, absent only from true desert and dense rain forest. Pythons in Botswana are found along the Limpopo Valley to Lobatse, with isolated individuals around the Kgalagadi Transfronteir Park; they are also being recorded to be extending into the Okavango Delta.

Reproduction

The female can lay up to 30-50 eggs at a time; the large eggs can weigh up to 130-160g. The female will coil around her clutch to protect the eggs. The young, measuring about 600mm, hatch in 65-80 days. Sexual maturity is reaches in 3-5 years, at 200-300cm.