Children's python

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Antaresia childreni
Antaresia childreni.jpg
Children's python
Not evaluated (IUCN 3.1)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae
Genus: Antaresia
Species: A. childreni
Binomial name
Antaresia childreni
(Gray, 1842)
  • Liasis childreni Gray, 1842
  • Nardoa gilbertii Gray, 1842
  • Liasis maculosus W. Peters, 1873
  • Liasis childreni
    Boulenger, 1893[1]
  • Antaresia childreni
    Kluge, 1993[2]

The Children's python (Antaresia childreni), is a species of non-venomous snake from the family Pythonidae named after John George Children. It is a nocturnal species occurring in the northern half of Australia and generally found on the ground although it often climbs trees. Usually growing to about 1.0 metre (3 ft) in length, it is typically a reddish-brown colour, darker on the upper surface, and with many darker blotches, especially on younger specimens. It feeds mostly on small mammals and bird and, as with other pythons, it constricts its prey before swallowing it whole. It is a popular pet amongst reptile enthusiasts.


Antaresis childrenii adults grow to a length of about 1–1.5 metres (3–5 ft). The scales on the top of the head are enlarged while those on the body are small and smooth, with a rainbow sheen that can be seen when exposed to direct sunlight. The upper surface of the snake is brown with darker spots in five or six longitudinal series. A dark streak on each side of the head passes through the eye. The lips are yellowish, spotted with brown and the lower surface is uniformly yellowish. The head of the snake is distinct from its neck. The nostral scale is superolateral, in a large semidivided nasal. Eye is moderate in size, with vertical pupil. Body is slightly laterally compressed. The tail is short. There are 41 to 45 rows across the snake's back, and 257 to 287 scales along the lower surface. There is a single undivided scale in front of the anus and 38 to 53 scales on the lower surface between the anus and the tip of the tail, all or mostly in two rows.

Rostral is broader than high, barely visible from above. Internasals are slightly longer than broad and are shorter than the anterior prefrontals. Second pair of prefrontals are in contact at midline or separated by a small shield. These posterior prefrontals sometimes broken into several shields. Frontal 1½ times as long as broad, slightly shorter than its distance from the end of the snout, longer than the small parietals. There are 3 to 10 small loreal shields, some almost granular, and 11 to 13 upper labials. Three or four of the posterior lower labials have deep pits.

Anterior maxillary teeth and mandibular teeth are very long, gradually decreasing in size posteriorly. Premaxillary bone also has teeth.[1][3]

A. childreni: rainbow sheen
A. childreni, young male

Taxonomy and naming[edit]

Anterisia childreni is one of four species of Antaresia, a genus of the family Pythonidae named after the star Antares. John Edward Gray published the original description of the species in 1842, naming it Liasis childreni. Both the common name and the specific epithet, conserved in the current name, is in honour of Gray's mentor, John George Children, a curator of the zoological collection at the British Museum around that time. No subspecies are currently recognized.[4] Some species of the genus Altaresia were formerly assigned to the genus Morelia.[5][6]

Geographic range[edit]

Found in Australia in the extreme north of Western Australia, the northern third of Northern Territory, and northeastern Queensland and also on the islands of the Torres Strait. The type locality given is "?" Listed as "N.W. Australia" in the catalogue of the British Museum of Natural History and as unknown in Stimson (1969).[5]

It occurs specifically in the region spanning along the coast between the Kimberleys in Western Australia to Mount Isa in northwestern Queensland.


The diet consists of reptiles, birds and small mammals, particularly microbats which they catch by dangling from stalactites in caves, which they commonly inhabit, and snatch them out of the air as they fly past.


Oviparous, with up to 25 eggs per clutch. Females brood their eggs through a seven week incubation period by coiling around them and occasionally shivering to keep them warm, which also affords the eggs some protection from predators. Juveniles are heavily blotched, but gradually become reddish brown or brown as they mature.


Children's Pythons are often kept as a pet due to its good nature and less demanding requirements. The lifespan of captive specimens has been known to exceed 30 years. Juveniles are fed pinky mice (baby, hairless mice), while larger individuals can be fed on adult mice or small rats. Feeding should occur roughly once a fortnight.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Boulenger GA. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families ... Boidæ ... London: Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). (Taylor and Francis, printers). xiii + 448 pp. + Plates I-XXVIII. (Liasis childreni, pp. 77-78, 418 + Plate IV, figure 1).
  2. ^ The Reptile Database.
  3. ^ Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  4. ^ "Antaresia childreni". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 19 September 2007. 
  5. ^ a b McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, Volume 1. Washington, District of Columbia: Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
  6. ^ Beolens B, Watkins M, Grayson M. 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. xiii + 296 pp. ISBN 978-1-4214-0135-5. (Anteresia childreni, p. 53).

Further reading[edit]

  • Gray JE. 1842. Synopsis of the species of prehensile-tailed Snakes, or Family Boidae. Zoological Miscellany 2: 41–46. (Liasis childreni, new species, p. 44).

External links[edit]

A. childreni