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Rock Python

CONSERVATION STATUS : VULNERABLE
COMMON EXTINCT
Classification:

Other Common Names: Indian Python
Order: Squamata
Genus & Species: Python molurus
Family: Boidae

Status:

Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Range:

Northern boundary of Pakistan to southeastern China; southern distribution through India, Burma, Borneo and Java to the Celebes Islands.

Habitat:

Found in jungles, clearings, hillsides, and river valleys and almost always near water.

Activity:

Crepuscular (twilight) and nocturnal.

Size:

Adults are 9 to 20 feet long. The body is very wide and long, making it one of the heaviest snakes at any given length.

Longevity:

17 or more years.

Diet:

Mostly mammals (rodents, small deer, porcupines, and domestic animals). They will also eat birds, reptiles, and fish.

Description:

Rich brown to reddish-brown blotches are found along the back and sides. Gold or cream colored stripes go from the nose to the back of the head and continue down the back and sides. The scales are small and have an iridescent sheen. “Spurs,” remnants of legs from lizard-like ancestors of snakes, are found at each edge of the vent (cloaca). The spurs are much larger on males. Males vibrate these against the females’ bodies during courtship.

Reproduction:

Offspring: The average clutch is about 30 (12 to 36).

Incubation: Usually 2 months or more, depending on the air temperature.

Parental Care: Female coils around her clutch of eggs and stays with them until they hatch. During this time, she contracts her body muscles, appearing to shiver, to produce enough heat to keep the eggs above 90 F. This is very unusual in cold-blooded animals.

Ecology, Adaptations, Etc:

Rock Pythons sometimes feed and rest in water. They often stay under water for 15 to 30 minutes. They also climb trees and prowl about among rocks and fields in search of food. Food is grabbed with the jaws and held in place while the snake throws loops of its body around the prey, preventing the prey from inhaling air. (Snakes do not “crush” their prey.) Some of their larger prey require more than an hour to swallow. To breath while swallowing, snakes can push their trachea (wind pipe) to the front of the mouth and open the mouth wide to let air into the lungs.  All four sides of a snake’s jaw move independently and are lined with teeth that curve backwards. Thus they can hold their prey by three jaws and “reach out” with the fourth jaw to pull the prey in.  Switching jaws, they then pull from the other side.

Comments:

There are several subspecies of the Rock Python. Zoo Boise’s python is Python molurus bivittatus, a Burmese python.