The Pythons as a group are non-venomous snakes that kill by constricting. Their main source of food is mammals and reptiles. With 32 species of pythons they’re found in tropical regions in Australia, Asia and Africa.
Although the large constrictors can handle pigs, small deer and antelope they can only consume food slightly larger than their diameter. The fear of being eaten by an 8 or 10′ snake even is groundless. However, if not treated with due respect they will strike and constrict before they realize you are not food, and without immediate assistance the snake can kill you.
Most fatalities with pet pythons are due to carelessness. Always have one person per 5′ of snake for safety reasonsthis can help pull the snake off before serious constricting happens.
Pythons range from tropical forests to woodlands to deserts. Some are largely aquatic while others spend much time in the trees waiting for prey.
Pythons produce 10-100 eggs and wrap around it gently to help incubate the eggs. Babies come out hard wired to eat. Some pythons have up to 200 teeth that curve backwards, helping the prey go down easier. The lower jaw can unhinge to allow extra room for swallowing the prey, but unless you are (or smell like) a rabbit or rat you’re safe from the smaller snakes.
Pythons have a variety of colors to help them blend in with their surroundingsfrom the browns of the reticulated python or Burmese to the brilliant green of the green tree python. Some have blotches and patterns while others are even in coloring. Another popular python is the ball python, generally topping at about 5-6 feet.
One of the largest of pythons is the reticulated which can reach 33 feet and sometimes has a testy temperament. The Burmese can get nearly that big also and with handling can be quite docile.
Pythons have poor eyesight and detect food by flicking their tongue to scent for prey. This is why if you smell like a rabbit or rat or whatever the snake is used to eating you’re apt to be in danger as they smell it, see movement and react.
The python can digest bones, flesh, teeth and need not eat for days or weeks after a large meal. During this time they are, because of the large meal, slower and somewhat at risk themselves. Crocodiles can not only be food but can be predator for a snake in the water. Smaller snakes have several potential predators.
Irresponsible owners of large pythons sometimes turn pet pythons loose in the Everglades, creating a danger for rangers, conservationists and the snakes themselves.
These are incredible snakes to observe and in the right hands they can be unusual pets, but one must plan long term with them. If you are not willing to handle a 30′ snake don’t get them as youngsters.