Amethystine python

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Amethystine python
High-Yellow Sorong Amethystine Scrub Python.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae
Genus: Morelia
Species: M. amethistina
Binomial name
Morelia amethistina
(Schneider, 1801)
Morelia amethistina range.png
  • [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[2]

The amethystine python (Morelia amethistina), also known as the scrub python or sanca permata locally, is a nonvenomous species of snake found in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. Popular among reptile enthusiasts, and noted for its coloration and size, it is one of the six largest snakes in the world, as measured either by length or weight, and is the largest native snake in Australia and Papua New Guinea. Currently, four subspecies of the nominate race, M. a. amethystina, are generally recognized. The Mollucan Islands, including Halmahera, Ternate, and Tidore, are home to M. a. tracyei. The Tanimbar Islands are home to a smaller subspecies, M. a. nauta. On the island of Seram, M. 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, M. a. amethystina is quite common. In Australia, M. a. kinghorni is represented.[3]


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


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 (27.9 ft) in total length, but this is exceptional, as 5 m (16.4 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 (19.7 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.[citation needed] Another huge female, in a report considered reliable by the staff of the Guinness Book of World Records, was measured by S. Dean in 1954 as 7.2 m (23.6 ft).[4] A typical adult specimen will measure around 2 to 4 m (6.6 to 13.1 ft).[5] Females typically weigh around 15 kg (33 lb).[citation needed] 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.[4][6][7] Males are much smaller and slimmer, averaging at 5.1 kg (11 lb) 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 smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 39–53 rows at midbody. Deep pits are on six or seven of the posterior lower labials.[9]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

These snakes are 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.[2]

M. amethistina occurs in both bushland and suburbia. In Indonesia and northern tropical Queensland, 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.


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



  1. ^ Auliya, M. (2010). "Morelia amethistina". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 30 November 2014.
  2. ^ 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).
  3. ^ "Morelia amethistina". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 18 September 2007.
  4. ^ a b Wood, Gerald (1983). The Guinness Book of Animal Facts and Feats. ISBN 978-0-85112-235-9.
  5. ^ Rainforest Reptiles – Skyrail Nature Diary. Skyrail. Retrieved on 2012-08-21.
  6. ^ "Snakes- Wet Tropics Management Authority". Wet Tropics Management Authority. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
  7. ^ "The world's largest snakes". Socialphy. Archived from the original on 27 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-01-10.
  8. ^ Fearn, S.; Schwarzkopf, L. & Shine, R. "Giant snakes in tropical forests: a field study of Australian scrub pythons" (PDF). 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]