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Indian Python: Python molurus molurus
In the Wild
Size: Recorded reaching up to 21 feet (6.4 m) in length
Weight: Recorded up to 200 lbs. (91 kg)
Indian pythons (including the Indian python and the Burmese python) are considered
the third largest of all snakes
o The green anaconda is the largest snake in the world – although commonly
debated, some records claim they can reach nearly 40 feet long and over 550 lbs.
o The reticulated python is the second largest snake – the Pittsburgh Zoo held the
largest recorded individual, measured at 28.5 feet long and 320 lbs.
o There are 2 subspecies of Indian python (Python molurus) – the Burmese python
(Python molurus bivitatus) and the Indian python (Python molurus molurus)
 Burmese pythons are generally larger (can grow up to 25 feet long) and
have darker coloration
 Indian pythons are smaller and lighter in color
Sexually dimorphic: Females are generally longer and heavier than males
Have tan and light brown coloration with a partial arrow-shaped marking on the top of
the head – each scale is a single color
Habitat and Range:
Are native to India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Nepal
Are generally found in rainforests, but can also be found in river valleys, woodlands,
scrublands, grassy marshes, and semi rocky foothills
Prefer areas with a lot of cover, near to water
Carnivorous: Primarily eat small mammals, may also occasionally hunt birds,
amphibians, and reptiles
Are able to live for weeks or even months between meals
Have tan and brown markings which act as camouflage to hide from predators and prey
May actively hunt or wait for prey to come nearby despite having poor eyesight – are
able to remain motionless for hours to avoid detection
o Highly sensitive forked tongue and Jacobson’s organ
 Odor particles are collected by the forked tongue and transported back
to the Jacobson organ in the top of the mouth
 The Jacobson’s organ is a patch of sensory cells (chemoreceptor) that
detects both social chemical communication by pheromones and helps
snakes hunt and track their prey
o Are able to sense prey using heat-sensing pits in their upper and lower jaws –
pits are highly sensitive to temperature changes and help locate prey
Indian Python: Python molurus molurus
o Grab prey with their teeth and wrap coils of their body around the prey and
squeeze – do not crush the prey and break bones but rather squeeze tightly so
that the prey cannot breathe and suffocates
o Can unhinge their jaw to swallow the prey whole utilizing rhythmic muscular
contractions that pull the prey down into the snake’s throat and stomach
o A special tube on the bottom of their mouth stays open to one side of the mouth
so they can breathe while swallowing
Are excellent swimmers and sometimes lay in wait for prey while submerged – can hold
their breath for up to 30 minutes
About 15-30 years
Ecosystem relationships:
Predators: Adults have no known predators besides humans
If threatened, they do not coil around and constrict but will inflate their bodies to look
as large and intimidating as possible and strike at potential threats
Are an important part of the ecosystem because they help control populations of small
May reach sexual maturity between 2-3 years of age
Females lay up to 100 eggs (typically 20-60 eggs) between 3-4 months after mating
Unlike most reptiles, female Indian pythons remain with the eggs for 2-3 months and
use muscular contractions to “shiver” around the eggs to raise their temperatures
The young break through the egg shell using an egg tooth which falls off soon after
Once the eggs begin to hatch, the female leaves and the young are immediately
Offspring are typically 18-24 inches (46-61 cm) long
Nocturnal: Hunt mainly at night
Are mostly terrestrial (ground-dwelling) but are able to climb trees
Are primarily solitary except during the mating season
Are somewhat territorial since they have preferred roosting and basking sites
During colder months, typically between October and February, will hide and enter a
short period of torpor
Other “fun facts”:
Are also sometimes called Indian rock pythons, Asiatic rock pythons, and tiger pythons
Indian Python: Python molurus molurus
The heat-sensitive pits on a python's lips are within each scale, while on boas they are
located between the scales
Conservation Status and Threats:
Listed on IUCN Red List as Lower Risk/Near Threatened
Listed in CITES Appendix I, meaning that collection from the wild of Indian pythons is
closely monitored – sale of individuals or skin products is only allowed in a few special
All species of python are listed on CITES Appendix II, meaning that collection for the pet
trade and trade of skin products is controlled to prevent too many individuals from
being taken out of the wild
o Are commonly hunted for their skins
o Are trapped and exported in large numbers for the pet trade
o Are sometimes killed by humans out of fear
o Are threatened by deforestation
o Are hunted for food by some native populations
Burmese pythons (P. m. bivitatus – but not the Indian python P. m. molurus) have been
introduced to the Florida Everglades and are considered an invasive species
o Were introduced when individuals kept as pets either escaped or were released
by their owners into the Everglades
o Hunt many native animals including endangered species such as the Key Largo
woodrat and compete with native predators such as the indigo snake
At the Zoo
Lucy (female) weighs 120 lbs. and is about 14.5 feet long. She was born in 1995 and her breeder
was a keeper at the Zoo’s Reptile House.
What We Can Do
Make environmentally responsible lifestyle decisions to help conserve habitat –
conserve energy, reduce litter and pollution
Make sure you know the origin of the products you buy – buying something imported
illegally supports the black market by sustaining demand
o Ex. Rosewood is still being illegally imported from Madagascar despite bans on
logging because people are still buying it
Do your research before buying a pet
o Make sure you are not purchasing a wild-caught individual – captive-bred species
are often easy to find
o Make sure you know how to properly care for any animal before you decide to
buy it as a pet
 Some things to consider include adult size, adequate housing, diet,
temperature requirements, and lifespan
 Some pets also require a lot of time and money to be properly cared for
Indian Python: Python molurus molurus