|Near Nagarhole National Park|
|Distribution of Indian python|
Python molurus is a large, nonvenomous python species native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is known by the common names Indian python, black-tailed python, Indian rock python, and Asian rock python. It is generally lighter colored than the Burmese python and reaches usually 3 m (9.8 ft).
The rock python's color pattern is whitish or yellowish with the blotched patterns varying from tan to dark brown shades. This varies with terrain and habitat. Specimens from the hill forests of Western Ghats and Assam are darker, while those from the Deccan Plateau and Eastern Ghats are usually lighter. All pythons are non-venomous.
The nominate subspecies occurring in India typically grows to 3 m (9.8 ft). This value is supported by a 1990 study in Keoladeo National Park, where 25% of the python population was 2.7–3.3 m (8.9–10.8 ft) long. Two individuals even measured nearly 3.6 m (12 ft).
Because of confusion with the Burmese python, exaggerations, and stretched skins in the past, the maximum length of this subspecies is difficult to tell. The longest scientifically recorded specimen, collected in Pakistan, was 4.6 m (15 ft) long and weighed 52 kg (110 lb). In Pakistan, Indian pythons commonly reach a length of 2.4–3.0 m (7.9–9.8 ft).
Distribution and habitat
P. molurus occurs in India, southern Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and probably in the north of Myanmar. It lives in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, swamps, marshes, rocky foothills, woodlands, open forest, and river valleys. It needs a permanent source of water. It hides in abandoned mammal burrows, hollow trees, dense water reeds, and mangrove thickets.
Lethargic and slow moving even in their native habitat, they exhibit timidity and rarely try to attack even when attacked. Locomotion is usually with the body moving in a straight line, by "walking on its ribs". They are excellent swimmers and are quite at home in water. They can be wholly submerged in water for many minutes if necessary, but usually prefer to remain near the bank.
Like all snakes, Indian pythons are strict carnivores and feed on mammals, birds, and reptiles indiscriminately, but seem to prefer mammals. Roused to activity on sighting prey, the snake advances with a quivering tail and lunges with an open mouth. Live prey is constricted and killed. One or two coils are used to hold it in a tight grip. The prey, unable to breathe, succumbs and is subsequently swallowed head first. After a heavy meal, they are disinclined to move. If forced to, hard parts of the meal may tear through the body. Therefore, if disturbed, some specimens disgorge their meal to escape from potential predators. After a heavy meal, an individual may fast for weeks, the longest recorded duration being 2 years. The python can swallow prey bigger than its diameter because the jaw bones are not connected. Moreover, prey cannot escape from its mouth because of the arrangement of the teeth (which are reverse saw-like).
Oviparous, up to 100 eggs are laid by a female, which she protects and incubates. Towards this end, they are capable of raising their body temperature above the ambient level through muscular contractions. The hatchlings are 45–60 cm (18–24 in) in length and grow quickly. An artificial incubation method using climate-controlled environmental chambers was developed in India for successfully raising hatchlings from abandoned or unattended eggs.
The Indian python is classified as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List due to a likely population decline of ~30% over the decade 2010-2020, caused by habitat loss, over-exploitation, and lack of conservation actions.
The Burmese python (Python bivittatus) was referred to as a subspecies of the Indian python until 2009, when it was elevated to full species status. The name Python molurus bivittatus is found in older literature.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Python molurus.|
- Python molurus at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 13 September 2007.
- Indian Python at Ecology Asia. Accessed 13 September 2007.
- Indian python at Animal Pictures Archive. Accessed 13 September 2007.
- Watch Indian rock python (Python molurus) video clips from the BBC archive on Wildlife Finder