Morelia amethistina

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Morelia amethistina
High-Yellow Sorong Amethystine Scrub Python.jpg
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae
Genus: Morelia
Species: M. amethistina
Binomial name
Morelia amethistina
(Schneider, 1801)
Synonyms
  • [Boa] Amethistina Schneider, 1801
  • Python amethystinus Daudin, 1803
  • [Constrictor] amethystina
    Wagler, 1830
  • Boa amethystina – Wagler, 1830
  • Python amethystinus
    Schlegel, 1837
  • [Boa Python] amethystinus
    – Schlegel, 1837
  • Liasis amethystinus Gray, 1842
  • Liasis amethystinus
    A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1844
  • Liasis (Simalia) amethystinus
    – Gray, 1849
  • Aspidopython Jakati Meyer, 1874
  • Liasis amethystinus
    W. Peters & Doria, 1878
  • Liasis duceboracensis Günther, 1879
  • Hypaspistes dipsadides Ogilby, 1891
  • Python amethystinus
    Boulenger, 1893
  • Liasis clarki Barbour, 1914
  • Liasis a[methistinus]. amethistinus Stull, 1933
  • Liasis amethistinus kinghorni
    Stull, 1933
  • Liasis amethistinus
    Brongersma, 1953
  • Liasis amethystinus kinghorni
    Kinghorn, 1956
  • Liasis amethystinus amethystinus – Kinghorn, 1956
  • Liasis amethistinus – Stimson, 1969
  • Python amethistinus
    – McDowell, 1975
  • Morelia amethistina H.G. Cogger,
    Cameron & H.M. Cogger, 1983
  • Australiasis amethistinus
    – Wells & Wellington, 1984
  • Australiasis kinghorni
    – Wells & Wellington, 1984
  • Morelia amethistina
    Underwood & Stimson, 1990
  • M[orelia]. amethistina – Kluge, 1993
  • Morelia amethystina
    – Barker & Barker, 1994
  • Morelia amethistina amethistina
    – O'Shae, 1996
  • Morelia amethistina kinghorni
    – O'Shae, 1996[1]

Morelia amethistina is a non-venomous species of snake, known as the amethystine, scrub python or Sanca permata locally, found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Australia. Popular among reptile enthusiasts, and noted for its coloration and size, it is the largest native snake in Australia, Papua New Guinea & West Papua, Indonesia. There are currently 4 subspecies of the nominate race, Morelia amethystina amethystina, which are generally recognized. The Mollucan islands, including Halmahera, Ternate and Tidore are home to Morelia a. tracyei. The Tanimbar Islands are home to a smaller race, Morelia a. nauta. On the island of Seram, Morelia a. clastolepis can be found, and mainland PNG (including the Indonesian western half, once called Irian Jaya—now West Papua)and many of its near offshore islands Morelia a. amethystina is quite common. In Australia, Morelia a. kinghorni is represented.

[2]

Description[edit]

Amethystine Python near Cooktown, Queensland, Australia. 2014
Amethystine Python visiting kitchen at home near Cooktown, Queensland, Australia. 2014

Specimens have reportedly been measured at more than 8.5 m (28 ft) in total length, but this is exceptional, as 5 m (16 ft) specimens are already considered large. As is typical for very large constricting snakes, almost no verified specimens of this species have exceeded 6 m (20 ft). However, in 1990, while conducting a herpetological survey, Tom Mendelson collected a wild female specimen on Biak Island, far Eastern Indonesia, which measured 22 feet 7 inches. Another huge female, in a report considered reliable, was measured by S. Dean in 1954 as 7.2 m (24 ft).[3] A typical adult specimen will measure around 2 to 4 m (6.6 to 13.1 ft).[4] Females typically weigh around 15 kg (33 lb).[5] Some exceptional specimens have been confirmed to weigh over 30 kg (66 lb) and unconfirmed outsized specimens have been reported to scale 90 kg (200 lb), although no specimen of this enormous size has been authenticated.[3][6][7] Males are much smaller and slimmer, averaging at 5.1 kg (11 lb) in mass at maturity, and occasionally weighing upwards of 11 kg (24 lb).[8] The body is relatively slim, unlike those of many other large members of this family.

The specific name, amethistina, is an allusion to the milky iridescent sheen on its scales, which gives it an amethyst-like color.

The smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 39–53 rows at midbody. There are deep pits on 6 or 7 of the posterior lower labials.[9]

Geographic range[edit]

Found in Indonesia (Maluku Islands, Timur Laut Islands, Banda, Kai Islands, Aru Islands, Misool, Salawati, most of Western New Guinea, many islands in Geelvink Bay, such as Biak, Numfor, Yapen and Supiori), Papua New Guinea (including Umboi Island, Bismarck Archipelago, Trobriand Islands, the d'Entrecasteaux Islands to Rossel Island, Louisiade Archipelago), and Australia (on some islands in the Torres Strait, the northern Cape York Peninsula south including the Atherton Tableland and the eastern foothills of the Great Dividing Range). The type locality is unknown.[1]

Habitat[edit]

Occurs in both bushland and suburbia. In Indonesia and northern tropical Queensland, Australia, it is found mostly in rainforests. Warm, humid habitats with good water sources are preferred.

In northern Australia and New Guinea, it mostly lives in scrublands.

Feeding[edit]

The diet generally consists of birds, fruit bats, rats, possums, and other small mammals. Larger Australian and Papuan specimens will catch and eat wallabies, and Cuscus, waiting by creek and river banks for prey seeking drinking water.

Taxonomy[edit]

According to McDiarmid et al. (1999), all cases in which the specific name was spelled with a y follow Daudin's (1803) Python amethystinus and are therefore unjustified emendations.[1]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  2. ^ "Morelia amethistina". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 18 September 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Wood, Gerald (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9. 
  4. ^ Rainforest Reptiles – Skyrail Nature Diary. Skyrail. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
  5. ^ Morelia spilota (Morelia spilota). JungleDragon. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
  6. ^ "Snakes- Wet Tropics Management Authority". Wet Tropics Management Authority. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  7. ^ "The world's largest snakes". Socialphy. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  8. ^ Fearn, S., Schwarzkopf, L. & Shine, R. "Giant snakes in tropical forests: a field study of Australian scrub pythons". CSIRO Publishing- Wildlife Research. Retrieved 2013-01-10. 
  9. ^ Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families...Boidæ... Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, Printers.) London. xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I.- XXVIII. ("Python amethystinus", pp. 83-84.)

Further reading[edit]

  • Schneider, J.G. 1801. Historiae Amphibiorum naturalis et literariae Fasciculus Secundus continens Crocodilos, Scincos, Chamaesauras, Boas, Pseudoboas, Elapes, Angues, Amphisbaenas et Caecilias. Frommann. Jena. vi + 364 pp. + 2 plates. ("[Boa] Amethistina", p. 254.)

External links[edit]