A carpet python may be one of several subspecies of the Morelia genus of snakes. Native to Australia and New Guinea, these mid-sized pythons are a favorite of snake lovers and pet owners. Named for their striking coloration, said to resemble Oriental carpets, the carpet python is a relatively retiring snake that can live more than 20 years.
The tropical regions of Queensland are the native home of the carpet python, though some subspecies can be found in more arid Australian regions as well as on the nearby island of New Guinea. In the wild, the snakes prefer an arboreal existence, spending their days and nights in trees and cozy tree crevices for protection and easy hunting. They prefer a diet of birds and small animals such as mice and rats, though have been known to eat small marsupials as well.
A beautiful snake, the carpet python can have a wide variety of dark spots, stripes and blotches across his yellow or tan skin. Some breeders classify these snakes by their markings, with unusual patterns typically fetching a higher price. Careful breeding can help preserve and promote desirable or even fashionable colors and patterns in a line of snakes.
Although only considered a medium bodied python, the carpet snake is about one foot long (30 cm) when hatched and grows to an impressive 6.5-12 feet (2-3.5 m) in length. As with most pythons, they are not venomous, but often attack by swallowing whole. A necessary part of the food chain, carpet pythons help maintain rodent populations by serving as a major predator. The snake is not always on the fiercer side of nature however, and young pythons serve as a food source to some large birds.
Many consider the carpet python to be an excellent pet, though this practice is controversial as it can reduce the number of wild pythons. Habitats for captive pythons often contain branches or trees for climbing as well as crevices for hiding and sleeping. Hailing from rainforests, the carpet python will appreciate high humidity levels and considerable warmth, though be sure to keep light sources out of reach of the snake, as his or her skin can burn easily. A secure cage is an absolute necessity, as the python is an excellent escape artist.
Unfortunately, the beautiful markings that give the carpet python its name are frequently the target of hunters and poachers. Though not considered an endangered species, environmental experts warn that persistent hunting and harvesting for the pet trade may have a serious detrimental effect on wild population numbers. Since the python plays an important role in keeping rodent and crop-eating bird populations stable, a loss of the snake can lead to increased numbers of its prey, which may in turn lead to farming and land consequences.