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Reticulated Python Descriptive Essay

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Reticulated Python - The Full Wiki

Reticulated Python: Wikis
  • Boa Reticulata - Schneider, 1801
  • Boa rhombeata - Schneider, 1801
  • Boa phrygia - Shaw, 1802
  • Coluber Javanicus - Shaw, 1802
  • Python Schneideri - Merrem, 1820
  • Python reticulatus - Gray, 1842
  • Python reticulatus - Boulenger, 1893
  • Morelia reticulatus - Welch, 1988
  • Python reticulatus - Kluge, 1993 [ 1 ]

Python reticulatus . also known as the (Asiatic) reticulated python [ 2 ] or regal python. [ 3 ] is a species of python found in Southeast Asia. Adults can grow to over 28 feet (8.7 m)in length [ 4 ] but normally grow to an average of 10-20 feet. They are the world's longest snakes and longest reptile, but are not the most heavily built. Like all pythons, they are non-venomous constrictors and normally not considered dangerous to humans, even though large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult and attacks are occasionally reported.

An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range. The specific name is Latin meaning net-like. or reticulated. and is a reference to the complex color pattern. [ 5 ]

Contents Description

Adults can grow to a length of more than 28.5 feet (8.7 m) and are the world's longest snakes. [ 6 ] [ 4 ] However, they are relatively slim for their length and are certainly not the most heavily built. [ 7 ] The species Eunectes murinus . the green anaconda, may be larger. [ 6 ] The largest individual ever accurately measured was Colossus, kept at the Pittsburgh Zoo during the 1950s, with a peak length of 28.5 feet. Numerous reports have been made of larger snakes, but since none of these have been measured by a scientist nor have the specimens been deposited at a museum, they must be regarded as unproven and probably erroneous. In spite of a standing offer of $50,000 for a live, healthy snake over 30 feet long by the New York Zoological Society, no attempt to claim this reward has ever been made. [ 4 ]

The color pattern is a complex geometric pattern that incorporates different colors. The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes which are flanked by smaller markings with light centers. In this species' wide range, much variation of size, color, and markings commonly occurs.

In zoo exhibits the color pattern may seem garish, but in a shadowy jungle environment amid fallen leaves and debris it allows them to virtually disappear. Called a disruptive coloration. it protects them from predators and helps them to catch their prey. [ 6 ]

Geographic range Habitat

Occurs in rain forests, woodland and nearby grassland. It is also associated with rivers and is found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range. [ 6 ] During the early years of the twentieth century it is said to have been common even in busy parts of Bangkok. sometimes eating domestic animals. [ 7 ]

Feeding

Their natural diet includes mammals and occasionally birds. Small specimens—up to 3–4 meters (10–14 ft) long—eat mainly rodents such as rats. whereas larger individuals switch to prey such as Viverridae (e.g. civets and binturongs ), and even primates and pigs. Near human habitation, they are known to snatch stray chickens. cats and dogs on occasion. Among the largest prey items that are actually fully documented to have been taken were a half-starved old female Sun Bear of 23 kilograms that was eaten by a 6.95 m (23 ft) specimen and took some 10 weeks to digest, as well as pigs of more than 60 kg (132 lb). As a rule of thumb, these snakes seem able to swallow prey up to ¼ their own length, and up to their own weight. [ 8 ] As with all pythons, they are ambush hunters. waiting until prey wanders within strike range before seizing it in their coils and killing via constriction .

Danger to humans

Attacks on humans are rare, but this species has been responsible for several human fatalities, in both the wild and captivity. They are among the few snakes that have been fairly reliably reported to eat people. although only a few cases of the snake actually eating (rather than just killing a human) appear to be authenticated:

  • Two incidents, apparently in early 20th century Indonesia. On Salibabu, a 14-year-old boy was killed and supposedly eaten by a specimen 5.17 m (c.17 ft) in length. Another incident involved an adult woman reputedly eaten by a "large reticulated python", but few details are known. [ 9 ]
  • Franz Werner reports [ 4 ] a case from Burma (or Myanmar) either occurring in the early 1910s or in 1927. A jeweller named Maung Chit Chine, who went hunting with his friends, was apparently eaten by a 6m (20 ft.) specimen after he sought shelter from a rainstorm on or under a tree. Supposedly, he was swallowed feet first, contrary to normal snake behavior but the easiest way for a snake to actually swallow a human. [ 10 ]
  • In 1932, Frank Buck wrote about a teenage boy who was eaten by a pet 25ft. reticulated python in the Philippines. According to Buck, the python had escaped and when it was found they could recognize a human child shape inside the snake, which later turned out to be the son of the snake's owner. [ 4 ]
  • According to Mark Auliya, the corpse of 32-year-old Mangyan. Lantod Gumiliu, was recovered from the belly of a 7m (c.23 ft.) reticulated python on Mindoro. probably in January, 1998. [ 8 ]
  • On October 23, 2008 a 25-year old Virginia Beach woman, Amanda Ruth Black, appeared to have been killed by a 13-foot pet reticulated python. The apparent cause of death was asphyxiation. The snake was later found in the bedroom in an agitated state. [ 11 ]
  • On January 21, 2009 a 3-year old Las Vegas boy was wrapped by an 18-foot pet reticulated python, turning blue. The boy's mother, who had been babysitting the python on behalf of a friend, rescued the toddler by gashing the python with a knife. The snake was killed by animal control officers. [ 12 ]

Considering the known maximum prey size, it is technically possible for a full-grown specimen to open its jaws wide enough to swallow a human child, teenager, or even a small adult, although the flaring shoulders of Homo sapiens would pose a problem. The victim would almost certainly be dead by the time the snake started swallowing. At least in the 1998 incident, the victim was gathering food or wood in the forest when he happened upon the snake. In any case, it is unlikely that any but the largest specimens are able to kill, let alone eat, an adult human, except if the victim is caught unaware. [ 8 ]

Reproduction

Oviparous. females lay between 15 and 80 eggs per clutch. At an optimum incubation temperature of 31–32°C (88–90 °F ), the eggs take an average of 88 days to hatch. [ 13 ] Hatchlings are at least 2 feet (61 cm) in length. [ 7 ]

Captivity

Increased popularity in the pet trade is due largely to increased efforts in captive breeding and selectively bred mutations such as the "albino" and "tiger" strains. They can make good captives, but keepers should have previous experience with such large constrictors to ensure safety to both animal and keeper. Although their interactivity and beauty draws much attention, some feel they are unpredictable. [ 14 ] [ 15 ] They do not attack humans by nature, but will bite and possibly constrict if they feel threatened, or mistake a hand for food. While not venomous, large pythons can inflict serious injuries, sometimes requiring stitches.

The huge size and attractive pattern of these snakes has made them favorite zoo exhibits, with several individuals claimed to be above 20 feet in length and more than one claimed to be the largest in captivity. [ 16 ] [ 17 ] [ 18 ] [ 19 ] [ 20 ] [ 21 ] However, due to their huge size, immense strength, aggressive disposition, and the mobility of the skin relative to the body, it is very difficult to get exact length measurements on a living reticulated python, and weights are rarely indicative, as captive pythons are often obese. [ 4 ] Claims made by zoos and animal parks are sometimes exaggerated, such as the claimed 49-foot snake in Indonesia which was subsequently proven to be less than 22 feet. [ 22 ] For this reason, scientists do not accept the validity of length measurements unless performed on a dead or anaesthetized snake which is later preserved in a museum collection. [ 4 ]

Taxonomy

Three subspecies may be encountered, including two new ones:

  • P. r. reticulatus. Schneider (1801) - Called "retics" in herpetoculture .
  • P. r. jampeanus. Auliya et al. (2002) - Kayaudi dwarf reticulated pythons or Jampea retics, about half the length [ 13 ]. Found on Tanahjampea in the Selayar Archipelago south of Sulawesi .
  • P. r. saputrai. Auliya et al. (2002) - Selayer reticulated pythons or Selayer retics. Found on Selayar Island in the Selayar Archipelago and also adjacent Sulawesi .

The latter two are dwarf subspecies. Apparently, the population of the Sangir Islands north of Sulawesi represents another such subspecies, but it is not yet formally described. [ 23 ]

The proposed subspecies dalegibbonsi. euanedwardsi. haydnmacphiei. neilsonnemani. patrickcouperi and stuartbigmorei [ 24 ] [ 25 ] are rejected by most professional and amateur herpetologists.

A recent phylogenetic study of pythons [ 26 ] suggested that the reticulated python as well as the Timor python are more closely related to Australasian pythons than other members of the genus Python. and should therefore be placed in a separate genus, Broghammerus .

See also References Further reading
  • Auliya, M.A. (2003): Taxonomy, Life History and Conservation of Giant Reptiles in West Kalimantan. Ph.D. thesis, University of Bonn .
  • Auliya, M.A.; Mausfeld, P.; Schmitz, A. & Böhme, W. (2002): Review of the reticulated python (Python reticulatus Schneider, 1801[sic ]) with the description of new subspecies from Indonesia. Naturwissenschaften89 (5): 201-213. doi :10.1007/s00114-002-0320-4 (HTML abstract, electronic supplement available to subscribers)
  • Raven, H.C. (1946): Adventures in python country. Natural History55. 38-41.
  • Shine R, Ambariyanto, Harlow PS, Mumpuni. Reticulated pythons in Sumatra: biology, harvesting and sustainability. Biol. conserv. ISSN 0006-3207. Abstract at CAT.INIST. Accessed 12 September 2007.
External links

Other articles

Reticulated python

Reticulated python

Python reticulatus . known as the reticulated python. [ 4 ] is a species of python found in Southeast Asia. They are the world's longest snakes and longest reptile. but are not the most heavily built. Like all pythons, they are nonvenomous constrictors and normally not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, attacks are only occasionally reported.

An excellent swimmer, Python reticulatus has been reported far out at sea and has colonized many small islands within its range. The specific name. reticulatus. is Latin meaning "net-like", or reticulated. and is a reference to the complex color pattern. [ 5 ]

Description

P. reticulatus head

This species is the largest snake native to Asia. More than a thousand wild reticulated pythons in southern Sumatra were studied and estimated to have a length range of 1.5 to 6.5 m (4.9 to 21.3 ft) and a weight range of 1 to 75 kg (2.2 to 165.3 lb). [ 6 ] Reticulated pythons with lengths of more than 6 m (19.7 ft) are rare, though according to the Guinness Book of World Records it is the only extant snake to regularly exceed that length. [ 7 ] A reticulated python of the same length as a green anaconda may weigh only half as much as the bulkier anaconda. [ 7 ] One of the largest scientifically measured specimens, from Balikpapan. East Kalimantan. Indonesia. was measured under anesthesia at 6.95 m (22.8 ft) and weighed 59 kg (130 lb) after not having eaten for 3 months. [ 8 ] Currently Guinness World Records has accepted a claim of a snake named Medusa in Kansas City, Missouri. U.S.. as the longest snake ever accurately measured in captivity, at 7.67 m (25.2 ft) and 158.8 kg (350 lb). [ 9 ] Widely published data of specimens that were reported to be several feet longer have not been confirmed.

Even the specimen once widely accepted as the largest-ever "accurately" measured snake, that being Colossus, a male kept at the Highland Park Zoo (now Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium ) in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. during the 1950s and early 1960s, with a peak reported length of 8.7 m (28.5 ft), recently turned out to be wrong. When Colossus died on April 14, 1963, its body was deposited in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. At that time its skeleton was measured and found to be 20 ft 10 in (6.35 m) in total length, significantly shorter than the measurement previously published by Barton and Allen. Apparently, they had been adding a few extra feet to the measurements to compensate for "kinks", since it is virtually impossible to completely straighten an extremely large live python. Too large to be preserved with formaldehyde and then stored in alcohol. the specimen was instead prepared as a disarticulated skeleton. The hide was sent to a laboratory to be tanned. but it was either lost or destroyed. [ 10 ]

Numerous reports have been made of larger snakes, but since none of these were measured by a scientist nor any of the specimens deposited at a museum, they must be regarded as unproven and possibly erroneous. In spite of what was for many years a standing offer of $50,000 for a live, healthy snake over 30 ft (9.1 m) long by the New York Zoological Society (NYZS), known since 1993 as the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), no attempt to claim this reward was ever made. [ 11 ]

The color pattern is a complex geometric pattern that incorporates different colors. The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes flanked by smaller markings with light centers. In this species' wide geographic range, much variation of size, color, and markings commonly occurs.

The "reticulated" net-like patterning that gives the reticulated python its name

In zoo exhibits the color pattern may seem garish, but in a shadowy jungle environment amid fallen leaves and debris it allows them to virtually disappear. Called disruptive coloration. it protects them from predators and helps them to catch their prey. [ 12 ]

The smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 69–79 rows at midbody. There are deep pits on 4 anterior upper labials. on 2 or 3 anterior lower labials. and on 5 or 6 posterior lower labials. [ 13 ]

Geographic range

Three subspecies have been proposed, [ 14 ] but are not recognized in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). The color and size can vary a great deal among the subspecies described. Geographical location is a good key to establishing the subspecies, as each one has a distinct geographical range.

Habitat

The reticulated python lives in rain forests, woodlands, and nearby grasslands. It is also associated with rivers and is found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range. [ 12 ] During the early years of the twentieth century it is said to have been common even in busy parts of Bangkok. sometimes eating domestic animals. [ 15 ]

Feeding

Their natural diet includes mammals and occasionally birds. Small specimens up to 3–4 m (9.8–13.1 ft) long eat mainly rodents such as rats. whereas larger individuals switch to prey such as Viverridae (e.g. civets and binturongs ), and even primates and pigs. Near human habitation, they are known to snatch stray chickens. cats. and dogs on occasion. Among the largest, fully documented prey items to have been taken are a half-starved sun bear of 23 kilograms that was eaten by a 6.95 m (22.8 ft) specimen and took some ten weeks to digest as well as pigs of more than 60 kg (132 lb). [ 16 ] As a rule of thumb, these snakes seem able to swallow prey up to one-quarter their own length and up to their own weight. [ 17 ] As with all pythons, they are primarily ambush hunters. usually waiting until prey wanders within strike range before seizing it in their coils and killing via constriction. However, there is at least one documented case of a foraging python entering a forest hut and taking a child. [ 18 ]

Danger to humans

Attacks on humans are rare, but this species has been responsible for several human fatalities, in both the wild and captivity. They are among the few snakes that have been suggested to prey on humans. However, there are few authenticated cases of a snake species consuming human beings. Reports of human fatalities and unauthenticated sources of human consumption include:

  • Two incidents, apparently in early 20th century Indonesia. On Salibabu, a 14-year-old boy was killed and supposedly eaten by a specimen 5.17 m (17.0 ft) in length. Another incident involved an adult woman reputedly eaten by a "large reticulated python", but few details are known. [ 19 ]
  • Franz Werner reported a case from Burma occurring either in the early 1910s or in 1927. [ 11 ] A jeweller named Maung Chit Chine, who went hunting with his friends, was apparently eaten by a 6 m (19.7 ft) specimen after he sought shelter from a rainstorm in or under a tree. Supposedly, he was swallowed feet-first, contrary to normal snake behavior, but perhaps the easiest way for a snake to actually swallow a human. [ 20 ]
  • In 1932, Frank Buck wrote about a teenage boy who was eaten by a pet 25 ft (7.6 m) reticulated python in the Philippines. According to Buck, the python escaped, and when it was found, a human child's shape was recognized inside the snake. It turned out to be the son of the snake's owner. [ 11 ]
  • Among a small group of Aeta negritos in the Philippines, six deaths by python have been documented within a period of 40 years, plus one who died later of an infected bite. [ 18 ]
  • On September 4, 1995, Ee Heng Chuan, a 29-year-old rubber tapper from the southern Malaysian state of Johor. was killed by a large reticulated python. The victim had apparently been caught unaware and was squeezed to death. The snake had coiled around the lifeless body with the victim's head gripped in its jaws when it was stumbled upon by the victim's brother. The python, measuring 23 ft (7.0 m) long and weighing more than 300 lb, was killed soon after by the arriving police, who required four shots to bring it down. [ 11 ]
  • On October 23, 2008, a 25-year-old Virginia Beach, Virginia woman, Amanda Ruth Black, appeared to have been killed by a 13-foot (4.0 m) pet reticulated python. The apparent cause of death was asphyxiation. The snake was later found in the bedroom in an agitated state. [ 21 ]
  • On January 21, 2009, a 3-year-old Las Vegas boy was wrapped by an 18-foot (5.5 m) pet reticulated python, turning blue. The boy's mother, who had been babysitting the python on behalf of a friend, rescued the toddler by gashing the python with a knife. The snake was later euthanized because of its fatal wounds. [ 22 ]

Considering the known maximum prey size, it is technically possible for a full-grown specimen of Python reticulatus to open its jaws wide enough to swallow a human teenager, but the width of the shoulders of adult Homo sapiens would likely pose a problem for even a snake with sufficient size.

Reproduction

Oviparous. females lay between 15 and 80 eggs per clutch. At an optimum incubation temperature of 31–32 °C (88–90 °F ), the eggs take an average of 88 days to hatch. [ 23 ] Hatchlings are at least 2 feet (61 cm) in length. [ 15 ]

Captivity

Reticulated python with an unusual color pattern. Various color patterns are found in captive-bred specimens – some brought about by selective breeding .

Increased popularity in the pet trade is due largely to increased efforts in captive breeding and selectively bred mutations such as the "albino" and "tiger" strains. They can make good captives, but keepers should have previous experience with such large constrictors to ensure safety to both animal and keeper. Although their interactivity and beauty draws much attention, some feel they are unpredictable. [ 24 ] [ 25 ] They do not attack humans by nature, but will bite and possibly constrict if they feel threatened, or mistake a hand for food. While not venomous, large pythons can inflict serious injuries, sometimes requiring stitches.

The huge size and attractive pattern of these snakes has made them favorite zoo exhibits, with several individuals claimed to be above 20 ft (6.1 m) in length and more than one claimed to be the largest in captivity. [ 26 ] [ 27 ] [ 28 ] [ 29 ] However, due to their huge size, immense strength, aggressive disposition, and the mobility of the skin relative to the body, it is very difficult to get exact length measurements on a living reticulated python, and weights are rarely indicative, as captive pythons are often obese. [ 11 ] Claims made by zoos and animal parks are sometimes exaggerated, such as the claimed 14.85 m (48.7 ft) snake in Indonesia which was subsequently proven to be about 6.5 m (21.3 ft) long. [ 30 ] [ 31 ] For this reason, scientists do not accept the validity of length measurements unless performed on a dead or anesthetized snake which is later preserved in a museum collection or stored for scientific research. [ 11 ]

There are also dwarf forms of reticulated pythons, typically separate subspecies of the nominate mainland subspecies or crossbreeds thereof, from some islands that are north west of Australia, and where the adults rarely get more than 15 feet (4.6 m) long but are being bred to be much smaller. Males can be at most 5 feet (1.5 m) long, females a little longer. [ citation needed ]

Taxonomy

Leather goods and skins of Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus ) and reticulated python at a local shop at Mandalay, Burma

Three subspecies may be encountered, including two new ones:

  • P. r. reticulatus(Schneider. 1801) – Called "retics" in herpetoculture .
  • P. r. jampeanusAuliya et al. 2002 – Kayaudi dwarf reticulated pythons or Jampea retics, about half the length, [ 23 ] or according to Auliya et al. (2002), not reaching much more than 2 m (6.6 ft) in length. [ 14 ] Found on Tanahjampea in the Selayar Archipelago south of Sulawesi. Closely related to P. r. reticulatus of the Lesser Sundas. [ 14 ]
  • P. r. saputraiAuliya et al. 2002 – Selayer reticulated pythons or Selayer retics. Found on Selayar Island in the Selayar Archipelago and also adjacent Sulawesi. This subspecies represents a sister lineage to all other populations of reticulated pythons tested. [ 14 ] According to Auliya et al. (2002) it does not exceed 4 m (13 ft) in length. [ 14 ]

The latter two are dwarf subspecies. Apparently, the population of the Sangihe Islands north of Sulawesi represents another such subspecies which is basal to the P. r. reticulatus plus P. r. jampeanus clade. but it is not yet formally described. [ 14 ]

The proposed subspecies "dalegibbonsi". "euanedwardsi". "haydnmacphiei". "neilsonnemani". "patrickcouperi". and "stuartbigmorei" [ 32 ] [ 33 ] have not found general acceptance.

A recent phylogenetic study of pythons [ 34 ] suggested that the reticulated python as well as the Timor python are more closely related to Australasian pythons, suggesting that they are an intermediate form between the Australasian pythons and the Afro-Asian genus Python. and should therefore be placed in a separate genus. Reynolds et al. [ 3 ] described the genus Malayopython for this species and its sister species, the Timor python, M. timoriensis .

See also References Further reading
  • Auliya, M.A. (2003): Taxonomy, Life History and Conservation of Giant Reptiles in West Kalimantan. Ph.D. thesis, University of Bonn .
  • Auliya, M.A.; Mausfeld, P.; Schmitz, A. & Böhme, W. (2002): Review of the reticulated python (Python reticulatus Schneider, 1801 [sic ]) with the description of new subspecies from Indonesia. Naturwissenschaften89 (5): 201–213. doi :10.1007/s00114-002-0320-4 (HTML abstract, electronic supplement available to subscribers)
  • Raven, H.C. (1946): Adventures in python country. Natural History55. 38–41.
  • 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] Reticulata". pp. 264–266.)
  • Shine R, Ambariyanto, Harlow PS, Mumpuni. Reticulated pythons in Sumatra: biology, harvesting and sustainability. Biol. conserv. ISSN 0006-3207. Abstract at CAT.INIST. Accessed 12 September 2007.
External links

Python reticulatus

Python reticulatus

Python reticulatus . also known as the (Asiatic) reticulated python [ 3 ] is a species of python found in Southeast Asia. Adults can grow to over 8.7 m (28 feet) in length [ 4 ] but normally grow to an average of 3-6 m (10–20 feet). They are the world's longest snakes and longest reptile. but are not the most heavily built. Like all pythons, they are nonvenomous constrictors and normally not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, attacks are only occasionally reported.

An excellent swimmer, Python reticulatus has been reported far out at sea and has colonized many small islands within its range. The specific name is Latin meaning net-like. or reticulated. and is a reference to the complex color pattern. [ 5 ]

Contents Description

Adults can grow to a length of more than 8.7 m (28.5 feet) and are the world's longest snakes. [ 4 ] [ 6 ] However, they are relatively slim for their length and are certainly not the most heavily built. [ 7 ] The species Eunectes murinus . the green anaconda, may be heavier. [ 6 ]

The largest individual ever accurately measured was Colossus, a female kept at the Highland Park Zoo (now Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium ) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania during the 1950s and early 1960s, with a peak length of 8.7 m (28.5 feet). When she died, April 15, 1963, her body was deposited in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. At that time she was measured and found to be significantly shorter than the measurements previously published by Barton and Allen. Apparently, they had been adding a few extra feet to the measurements to compensate for "kinks", since it is virtually impossible to completely straighten an extremely large live python. Too large to be preserved with formaldehyde and then stored in alcohol, the specimen was instead prepared as a disarticulated skeleton. The hide was sent to a laboratory to be tanned, and unfortunately it was either lost or destroyed.

Numerous reports have been made of larger snakes, but since none of these have been measured by a scientist nor have the specimens been deposited at a museum, they must be regarded as unproven and probably erroneous. In spite of a standing offer of $50,000 for a live, healthy snake over 9.1 metres (30 ft) long by the New York Zoological Society, no attempt to claim this reward has ever been made. (Outdated info?) [ 4 ]

The color pattern is a complex geometric pattern that incorporates different colors. The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes, flanked by smaller markings with light centers. In this species wide range, much variation of size, color, and markings commonly occurs.

In zoo exhibits the color pattern may seem garish, but in a shadowy jungle environment amid fallen leaves and debris it allows them to virtually disappear. Called a disruptive coloration . it protects them from predators and helps them to catch their prey. [ 6 ]

Geographic range

Three sub-species have been proposed, [ 8 ] but are not recognized by ITIS. The color and size can vary a great deal between the sub-species described. Geographical location is a good key to establishing the sub-species, as each one has a distinct geographical range.

Habitat

The python lives in rain forests, woodland and nearby grassland. It is also associated with rivers and is found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range. [ 6 ] During the early years of the twentieth century it is said to have been common even in busy parts of Bangkok. sometimes eating domestic animals. [ 7 ]

Feeding

Their natural diet includes mammals and occasionally birds. Small specimens—up to 3–4 meters (10–14 ft) long—eat mainly rodents such as rats. whereas larger individuals switch to prey such as Viverridae (e.g. civets and binturongs ), and even primates and pigs. Near human habitation, they are known to snatch stray chickens. cats and dogs on occasion. Among the largest, fully documented prey items to have been taken are a half-starved Sun Bear of 23 kilograms that was eaten by a 6.95 m (23 ft) specimen and took some ten weeks to digest, as well as pigs of more than 60 kg (132 lb). As a rule of thumb, these snakes seem able to swallow prey up to ¼ their own length, and up to their own weight. [ 9 ] As with all pythons, they are ambush hunters. waiting until prey wanders within strike range before seizing it in their coils and killing via constriction .

Danger to humans

Attacks on humans are rare, but this species has been responsible for several human fatalities, in both the wild and captivity. They are among the few snakes that have been fairly reliably reported to eat people. although only a few cases of the snake actually eating (rather than just killing) a human appear to be authenticated:

  • Two incidents, apparently in early 20th century Indonesia. On Salibabu, a 14-year-old boy was killed and supposedly eaten by a specimen 5.17 m (c.17 ft) in length. Another incident involved an adult woman reputedly eaten by a "large reticulated python", but few details are known. [ 10 ]
  • Franz Werner reports [ 4 ] a case from Burma either occurring in the early 1910s or in 1927. A jeweller named Maung Chit Chine, who went hunting with his friends, was apparently eaten by a 6 m (20 ft.) specimen after he sought shelter from a rainstorm in or under a tree. Supposedly, he was swallowed feet-first, contrary to normal snake behavior, but perhaps the easiest way for a snake to actually swallow a human. [ 11 ]
  • In 1932, Frank Buck wrote about a teenage boy who was eaten by a pet 25 ft (7.6 m). reticulated python in the Philippines. According to Buck, the python had escaped and when it was found they could recognize a human child shape inside the snake, which later turned out to be the son of the snake's owner. [ 4 ]
  • On September 4, 1995, Ee Heng Chuan, a 29-year-old rubber tapper from the southern Malaysian state of Johor. was killed by a large reticulated python. The victim had apparently been caught unaware and was squeezed to death. The snake had coiled around the lifeless body with the victim's head gripped in its jaws when it was stumbled upon by the victim's brother. The python, measuring 23 ft (7.0 m) long and weighing more than 300 lb, was killed soon after by the arriving police, who required four shots to bring it down. [ 4 ]
  • According to Mark Auliya, the corpse of 32-year-old Mangyan. Lantod Gumiliu, was recovered from the belly of a 7-metre (23 ft) reticulated python on Mindoro. probably in January, 1998. [ 9 ]
  • On October 23, 2008 a 25-year old Virginia Beach, Virginia woman, Amanda Ruth Black, appeared to have been killed by a 13-foot (4.0 m) pet reticulated python. The apparent cause of death was asphyxiation. The snake was later found in the bedroom in an agitated state. [ 12 ]
  • On January 21, 2009 a 3-year-old Las Vegas boy was wrapped by an 18-foot (5.5 m) pet reticulated python, turning blue. The boy's mother, who had been babysitting the python on behalf of a friend, rescued the toddler by gashing the python with a knife. The snake was later euthanized because of its fatal wounds. [ 13 ]

Considering the known maximum prey size, it is technically possible for a full-grown specimen to open its jaws wide enough to swallow a human child, teenager, or even an adult, although the flaring shoulders of Homo sapiens could pose a problem for a snake with insufficient size (< 6 meters). The victim would almost certainly be dead by the time the snake started swallowing.

Reproduction

Oviparous, females lay between 15 and 80 eggs per clutch. At an optimum incubation temperature of 31–32°C (88–90 °F ), the eggs take an average of 88 days to hatch. [ 14 ] Hatchlings are at least 2 feet (61 cm) in length. [ 7 ]

Captivity

Increased popularity in the pet trade is due largely to increased efforts in captive breeding and selectively bred mutations such as the "albino" and "tiger" strains. They can make good captives, but keepers should have previous experience with such large constrictors to ensure safety to both animal and keeper. Although their interactivity and beauty draws much attention, some feel they are unpredictable. [ 15 ] [ 16 ] They do not attack humans by nature, but will bite and possibly constrict if they feel threatened, or mistake a hand for food. While not venomous, large pythons can inflict serious injuries, sometimes requiring stitches.

The huge size and attractive pattern of these snakes has made them favorite zoo exhibits, with several individuals claimed to be above 20 feet (6.1 m) in length and more than one claimed to be the largest in captivity. [ 17 ] [ 18 ] [ 19 ] [ 20 ] [ 21 ] [ 22 ] However, due to their huge size, immense strength, aggressive disposition, and the mobility of the skin relative to the body, it is very difficult to get exact length measurements on a living reticulated python, and weights are rarely indicative, as captive pythons are often obese. [ 4 ] Claims made by zoos and animal parks are sometimes exaggerated, such as the claimed 49-foot (15 m) snake in Indonesia which was subsequently proven to be less than 22 feet. [ 23 ] For this reason, scientists do not accept the validity of length measurements unless performed on a dead or anaesthetized snake which is later preserved in a museum collection. [ 4 ]

Taxonomy

Three subspecies may be encountered, including two new ones:

  • P. r. reticulatus. Schneider (1801) - Called "retics" in herpetoculture .
  • P. r. jampeanus. Auliya et al. (2002) - Kayaudi dwarf reticulated pythons or Jampea retics, about half the length. [ 14 ] Found on Tanahjampea in the Selayar Archipelago south of Sulawesi .
  • P. r. saputrai. Auliya et al. (2002) - Selayer reticulated pythons or Selayer retics. Found on Selayar Island in the Selayar Archipelago and also adjacent Sulawesi .

The latter two are dwarf subspecies. Apparently, the population of the Sangir Islands north of Sulawesi represents another such subspecies, but it is not yet formally described. [ 8 ]

The proposed subspecies dalegibbonsi. euanedwardsi. haydnmacphiei. neilsonnemani. patrickcouperi and stuartbigmorei [ 24 ] [ 25 ] but have not found general acceptance.

A recent phylogenetic study of pythons [ 26 ] suggested that the reticulated python as well as the Timor python are more closely related to Australasian pythons than other members of the genus Python. and should therefore be placed in a separate genus, Broghammerus .

See also References Further reading
  • Auliya, M.A. (2003): Taxonomy, Life History and Conservation of Giant Reptiles in West Kalimantan. Ph.D. thesis, University of Bonn .
  • Auliya, M.A.; Mausfeld, P.; Schmitz, A. & Böhme, W. (2002): Review of the reticulated python (Python reticulatus Schneider, 1801[sic ]) with the description of new subspecies from Indonesia. Naturwissenschaften89 (5): 201-213. doi :10.1007/s00114-002-0320-4 (HTML abstract, electronic supplement available to subscribers)
  • Raven, H.C. (1946): Adventures in python country. Natural History55. 38-41.
  • Shine R, Ambariyanto, Harlow PS, Mumpuni. Reticulated pythons in Sumatra: biology, harvesting and sustainability. Biol. conserv. ISSN 0006-3207. Abstract at CAT.INIST. Accessed 12 September 2007.
External links Categories:
  • Pythonidae
  • Reptiles of Brunei
  • Reptiles of Cambodia
  • Reptiles of Indonesia
  • Reptiles of Laos
  • Reptiles of Malaysia
  • Reptiles of Burma
  • Reptiles of the Philippines
  • Reptiles of Thailand
  • Reptiles of Vietnam
  • Megafauna of Eurasia
  • Fauna of Borneo

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Reticulated python

WIKIPEDIA ARTICLE

The reticulated python (Python reticulatus ) [1] is a species of python found in Southeast Asia. They are the world's longest snakes and longest reptiles and among the three heaviest snakes. Like all pythons, they are nonvenomous constrictors and normally not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, attacks are only occasionally reported.

An excellent swimmer, P. reticulatus has been reported far out at sea and has colonized many small islands within its range. The specific name. reticulatus. is Latin meaning "net-like", or reticulated. and is a reference to the complex color pattern. [6]

Contents Description [ edit ]

P. reticulatus head

This species is the largest snake native to Asia. More than a thousand wild reticulated pythons in southern Sumatra were studied and estimated to have a length range of 1.5 to 6.5 m (4.9 to 21.3 ft) and a weight range of 1 to 75 kg (2.2 to 165.3 lb). [7] Reticulated pythons with lengths more than 6 m (19.7 ft) are rare, though according to the Guinness Book of World Records . it is the only extant snake to regularly exceed that length. [8] A reticulated python of the same length as a green anaconda may weigh only half as much as the bulkier anaconda. [8] One of the largest scientifically measured specimens, from Balikpapan. East Kalimantan. Indonesia. was measured under anesthesia at 6.95 m (22.8 ft) and weighed 59 kg (130 lb) after not having eaten for nearly 3 months. [9] Widely published data of specimens that were reported to be several feet longer have not been confirmed.

The specimen once widely accepted as the largest-ever accurately measured snake, that being Colossus, a specimen kept at the Highland Park Zoo (now the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium ) in Pittsburgh. Pennsylvania. during the 1950s and early 1960s, with a peak reported length of 8.7 m (28 ft 6 in) from a measurement in November 1956, was later shown to have been substantially shorter than previously reported. When Colossus died on April 14, 1963, its body was deposited in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. At that time, its skeleton was measured and found to be 20 ft 10 in (6.35 m) in total length, and the length of its fresh hide was measured as 23 feet 11 inches (7.29 m) – both measurements being significantly shorter than what had been previously estimated in 1956. The hide tends to stretch from the skinning process, and thus be longer than the snake from which it came – e.g. by roughly 20–40% or more. [10] The previous reports had been constructed by combining partial measurements with estimations to compensate for "kinks", since it is virtually impossible to completely straighten an extremely large live python. Because of these issues, a 2012 journal article concluded that "Colossus was neither the longest snake nor the heaviest snake ever maintained in captivity." Too large to be preserved with formaldehyde and then stored in alcohol. the specimen was instead prepared as a disarticulated skeleton. The hide was sent to a laboratory to be tanned. but it was either lost or destroyed, and now only the skull and selected vertebrae and ribs remain in the museum's collection. [11] There is considerable confusion in the literature over whether Colossus was male or female (females tend to be larger). [10] [11]

Numerous reports have been made of larger snakes, but since none of these was measured by a scientist nor any of the specimens deposited at a museum, they must be regarded as unproven and possibly erroneous. In spite of what has been, for many years, a standing offer of a large financial reward (initially $1,000, later raised to $5,000, then $15,000 in 1978 and $50,000 in 1980) for a live, healthy snake over 30 ft (9.1 m) long by the New York Zoological Society (later renamed as the Wildlife Conservation Society), no attempt to claim this reward has ever been made. [10]

The color pattern is a complex geometric pattern that incorporates different colors. The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes flanked by smaller markings with light centers. In this species' wide geographic range, much variation of size, color, and markings commonly occurs.

The "reticulated" net-like patterning that gives the reticulated python its name

In zoo exhibits, the color pattern may seem garish, but in a shadowy jungle environment amid fallen leaves and debris, it allows them to virtually disappear. Called disruptive coloration. it protects them from predators and helps them to catch their prey. [12]

The smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 69–79 rows at midbody. There are deep pits on four anterior upper labials. on two or three anterior lower labials. and on five or six posterior lower labials. [13]

Geographic range [ edit ]

Three subspecies have been proposed, [14] but are not recognized in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). The color and size can vary a great deal among the subspecies described. Geographical location is a good key to establishing the subspecies, as each one has a distinct geographical range.

Habitat [ edit ]

The reticulated python lives in rain forests, woodlands, and nearby grasslands. It is also associated with rivers and is found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range. [12] During the early years of the 20th century, it is said to have been common even in busy parts of Bangkok. sometimes eating domestic animals. [15]

Feeding [ edit ]

Their natural diet includes mammals and occasionally birds. Small specimens up to 3–4 m (9.8–13.1 ft) long eat mainly rodents such as rats. whereas larger individuals switch to prey such as Viverridae (e.g. civets and binturongs ), and even primates and pigs. Near human habitation, they are known to snatch stray chickens. cats. and dogs on occasion. Among the largest, fully documented prey items to have been taken are a half-starved sun bear of 23 kilograms that was eaten by a 6.95-m (22.8-ft) specimen and took some ten weeks to digest, as well as pigs of more than 60 kg (132 lb). [16] As a rule, these snakes seem able to swallow prey up to one-quarter their own length and up to their own weight. [17] As with all pythons, they are primarily ambush hunters. usually waiting until prey wanders within strike range before seizing it in their coils and killing by constriction. However, at least one case is reported of a foraging python entering a forest hut and taking a child. [18]

Danger to humans [ edit ]

Attacks on humans are rare, but this species has been responsible for several human fatalities, in both the wild and captivity. They are among the few snakes that have been suggested to prey on humans. Reports of human fatalities and unauthenticated sources of human consumption include:

  • Two incidents, apparently in early 20th-century Indonesia. On Salibabu, a 14-year-old boy was killed and supposedly eaten by a specimen 5.17 m (17.0 ft) in length. Another incident involved an adult woman reputedly eaten by a "large reticulated python", but few details are known. [19]
  • Franz Werner reported a case from Burma occurring either in the early 1910s or in 1927. [10] A jeweller named Maung Chit Chine, who went hunting with his friends, was apparently eaten by a 6 m (19.7 ft) specimen after he sought shelter from a rainstorm in or under a tree. Supposedly, he was swallowed feet-first, contrary to normal snake behavior, but perhaps the easiest way for a snake to actually swallow a human. [20]
  • In 1932, Frank Buck wrote about a teenage boy who was eaten by a pet 25 ft (7.6 m) reticulated python in the Philippines. According to Buck, the python escaped, and when it was found, a human child's shape was recognized inside the snake, and turned out to be the son of the snake's owner. [21]
  • Among a small group of Aeta negritos in the Philippines, six deaths by python were said to have been documented within a period of 40 years, plus one who died later of an infected bite. [18]
  • On September 4, 1995, Ee Heng Chuan, a 29-year-old rubber tapper from the southern Malaysian state of Johor. was reported to have been killed by a large reticulated python. The victim had apparently been caught unaware and was squeezed to death. The snake had coiled around the lifeless body with the victim's head gripped in its jaws when it was stumbled upon by the victim's brother. The python, reported as measuring 23 ft (7.0 m) long and weighing more than 300 lb, was killed soon after by the arriving police, who shot it four times. [10]
  • On October 23, 2008, a 25-year-old Virginia Beach, Virginia woman, Amanda Ruth Black, appeared to have been killed by a 13-foot (4.0 m) pet reticulated python. The apparent cause of death was asphyxiation. The snake was later found in the bedroom in an agitated state. [22]
  • On January 21, 2009, a 3-year-old Las Vegas boy was wrapped in the coils of an 18-foot (5.5 m) pet reticulated python, turning blue. The boy's mother, who had been babysitting the python on behalf of a friend, rescued the toddler by gashing the python with a knife. The snake was later euthanized because of its wounds. [23]

Considering the known maximum prey size, it is technically possible for a full-grown specimen of P. reticulatus to open its jaws wide enough to swallow a human teenager, but the width of the shoulders of adult Homo sapiens would probably pose a problem for even a snake with sufficient size.

Reproduction [ edit ]

Oviparous. females lay between 15 and 80 eggs per clutch. At an optimum incubation temperature of 31–32°C (88–90°F), the eggs take an average of 88 days to hatch. [24] Hatchlings are at least 2 ft (61 cm) in length. [15]

Captivity [ edit ]

Reticulated python with an unusual color pattern: Various color patterns are found in captive-bred specimens – some brought about by selective breeding .

Increased popularity in the pet trade is due largely to increased efforts in captive breeding and selectively bred mutations such as the "albino" and "tiger" strains. They can make good captives, but keepers should have previous experience with such large constrictors to ensure safety to both animal and keeper. Although their interactivity and beauty draws much attention, some feel they are unpredictable. [25] [26] They do not attack humans by nature, but will bite and possibly constrict if they feel threatened, or mistake a hand for food. While not venomous, large pythons can inflict serious injuries, sometimes requiring stitches.

The huge size and attractive pattern of these snakes has made them favorite zoo exhibits, with several individuals claimed to be above 20 ft (6.1 m) in length and more than one claimed to be the largest in captivity. [27] [28] [29] [30] However, due to their huge size, immense strength, aggressive disposition, and the mobility of the skin relative to the body, it is very difficult to get exact length measurements on a living reticulated python, and weights are rarely indicative, as captive pythons are often obese. [10] Claims made by zoos and animal parks are sometimes exaggerated, such as the claimed 14.85 m (48.7 ft) snake in Indonesia which was subsequently proven to be about 6.5 m (21.3 ft) long. [31] [32] For this reason, scientists do not accept the validity of length measurements unless performed on a dead or anesthetized snake which is later preserved in a museum collection or stored for scientific research. [10]

Also, dwarf forms of reticulated pythons occur, typically separate subspecies of the nominate mainland subspecies or crossbreeds thereof, from some islands that are north west of Australia, and where the adults rarely get more than 15 feet (4.6 m) long but are being bred to be much smaller. Males can be at most 5 feet (1.5 m) long, females a little longer. [ citation needed ]

Taxonomy [ edit ]

Leather goods and skins of Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus ) and reticulated python at a local shop at Mandalay, Burma

Three subspecies may be encountered, including two new ones:

  • P. r. reticulatus(Schneider. 1801) – Called "retics" in herpetoculture .
  • P. r. jampeanusAuliya et al. 2002 – Kayaudi dwarf reticulated pythons or Jampea retics, about half the length, [24] or according to Auliya et al. (2002), not reaching much more than 2 m (6.6 ft) in length. [14] Found on Tanahjampea in the Selayar Archipelago south of Sulawesi. Closely related to P. r. reticulatus of the Lesser Sundas. [14]
  • P. r. saputraiAuliya et al. 2002 – Selayer reticulated pythons or Selayer retics. Found on Selayar Island in the Selayar Archipelago and also adjacent Sulawesi. This subspecies represents a sister lineage to all other populations of reticulated pythons tested. [14] According to Auliya et al. (2002) it does not exceed 4 m (13 ft) in length. [14]

The latter two are dwarf subspecies. Apparently, the population of the Sangihe Islands north of Sulawesi represents another such subspecies which is basal to the P. r. reticulatus plus P. r. jampeanus clade. but it is not yet formally described. [14]

The proposed subspecies "dalegibbonsi". "euanedwardsi". "haydnmacphiei". "neilsonnemani". "patrickcouperi". and "stuartbigmorei" [3] [33] have not found general acceptance.

A phylogenetic study of pythons has suggested that the reticulated python as well as the Timor python are more closely related to Australasian pythons, suggesting that they are an intermediate form between the Australasian pythons and the Afro-Asian genus Python. and should therefore be placed in a separate genus. [34] The genus name Broghammerus was proposed by Raymond T. Hoser in 2003/2004. [3] [4] Reynolds et al. described the genus Malayopython for this species and its sister species, the Timor python, calling the Timor python M. timoriensis. [5] Hoser has since said that the Malayopython name is a junior synonym of Broghammerus and thus should not be recognized by the International Code of Zoological Nomenclature. [35] Neither of these proposed reclassifications has been recognized by the ITIS. [1]

See also [ edit ] References [ edit ] Further reading [ edit ]
  • Auliya, M.A. (2003): Taxonomy, Life History and Conservation of Giant Reptiles in West Kalimantan. Ph.D. thesis, University of Bonn .
  • Auliya, M.A.; Mausfeld, P.; Schmitz, A. & Böhme, W. (2002): Review of the reticulated python (Python reticulatus Schneider, 1801 [sic ]) with the description of new subspecies from Indonesia. Naturwissenschaften89 (5): 201–213. doi :10.1007/s00114-002-0320-4 (HTML abstract, electronic supplement available to subscribers)
  • Raven, H.C. (1946): Adventures in python country. Natural History55. 38–41.
  • 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] Reticulata". pp. 264–266.)
  • Shine R, Ambariyanto, Harlow PS, Mumpuni. Reticulated pythons in Sumatra: biology, harvesting and sustainability. Biol. conserv. ISSN 0006-3207. Abstract at CAT.INIST. Accessed 12 September 2007.
External links [ edit ]