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Python Snakes

Python Snakes are the Largest in the World

Python snakes are consider to be primitives because unlike modern snakes they have two lungs instead of one, and they have the remnants of the pelvic girdle and hind legs. Pythons are non-venomous. They range in length from three to thirty-three feet long and weigh up to three hundred pounds. The average python is twenty feet long. They live in rain forests, swamps, grasslands, woodlands and savannas and are native to Africa, Madagascar, Australia and Southeast Asia.

Python snakes are constrictors, meaning they take hold of their prey with their teeth and then wrap themselves around it squeezing so tightly that it suffocates to death. They then unhinge their jaw and swallow the prey head first. This can take a long time depending on the size of the prey. While the food is passing through the mouth and into the stomach, the python breathes through a special tube in the bottom of its mouth.

Unlike many snakes, python snakes do not chase after their prey. Instead, they lie in wait to ambush it. While pit vipers have heat-sensing pits between their eyes and nose to locate pray, pythons have the same sort of sensor pits, except they are located on their jaws. It doesn’t matter then if it is dark or light, on open ground or in dense foliage, the python can still identify food. They eat rats and mice, lizards, mammals, such as pigs, monkeys and even animals as large as antelope. In captivity, python snakes eat thawed rodents and rabbits.

Python snakes reproduce by laying eggs. But, unlike other snakes who leave the eggs somewhere such as a hollow tree or bury them, the female python coils around her eggs and keeps them warm until they hatch. Even though snakes are cold-blooded and cannot raise their own body temperature, the female python can raise the temperature of the eggs if necessary by shivering. It is said to look like the snake has hiccups. Warming the eggs in this way, however, takes so much energy that the mother snake loses weight and she may not be able to reproduce for as many as two to three years. The babies are left on their own immediately after hatching. Python eggs are four to five inches long and a brood can have anywhere from 20 to 100 eggs.

Because of their length and weight, python snakes are very slow and move at approximately one mile per hour. Unlike other snakes, they move in a straight line that is called “rectilinear progression.” That means their ribs stiffen for support and they lift a set of scales on their stomach moving them forward so that the ends of the scales grip the surface of the ground and propel them forwards. They can move this way on any surface, including trees. In addition, python snakes are strong swimmers and will often lie in the water to ambush their prey.

Some people keep pythons as pets. They require quite an outlay of cash for the proper equipment and they require a lot of care. Although pythons are not poisonous, they are large and  heavy and require knowledge of safe handling practices. If a python were to wrap themselves around a human and constrict, the person would not have a chance to save themselves. Pythons can be dangerous and are not a pet snake that should bought on a whim.




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