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What is a Python Snake?

Ken Black
Ken Black

The reticulated python snake, known scientifically as the Python reticulatus, is a snake that is native to southeast Asia in tropical areas. Their normal home environment are hot, tropical rainforests near the equator. Also, they are normally found near water and are very skilled at swimming. In fact, they have populated a number of islands in their range, reaching them, ostensibly, by their swimming ability.

The python is a larger snake, typically growing up to 25 feet (7.62 meters) or even larger. They rarely get longer than 30 feet (9.14 m), however, although some legends have them getting as long as 50 feet (15.24 m). These stories have never been verified, and though some have offered rewards for a specimen longer than 30 feet (9.14 m), no one has, as of yet, been able to claim that reward.

Pythons typically grow up to 25 feet.
Pythons typically grow up to 25 feet.

The python snake is identified in a number of different ways. It has a series of complex patterns on its skin, often taking the form of irregular diamonds in a number of different colors. The outline of the diamonds on a python are usually darker in color, mainly black, whereas the interior of the diamond shape is much lighter in color. Albino pythons are mainly white, with perhaps a yellowish outline of the diamond shapes.

Ball pythons are popular pet snakes.
Ball pythons are popular pet snakes.

The python is solely a meat eater. Unlike some carnivorous snakes, however, it has no venom. Rather, as a member of the boa family, it is a constrictor, waiting to ambush its prey and then squeezing the life out of it. The ambush can either come from above, with the snake dropping from a tree, or ground level, with the snake hiding on the ground.

The python snake is one of the most common types of snakes kept as pets. Care should be taken to learn as much about the history as possible of any animal being considered as a pet. Wild animals caught and kept in captivity will not be as socialized as those who are born in captivity. Therefore, those wishing to keep a python as a pet should try to make sure it was one born in captivity.

Reticulated pythons are native to the tropical areas of southeast Asia.
Reticulated pythons are native to the tropical areas of southeast Asia.

Sexual maturity of the python snake is generally reached after the age of 2 but before the age of 4. Males are approximately 8 feet (2.43 m) long by this time and females may reach a size of 11 feet (3.35 m). Mating takes place between September and March. As many as 80 eggs can be laid and they are incubated for nearly three months before hatching. After the eggs are hatched, the female generally shows no interest in the offspring. They are on their own to find food and shelter.

Frequently Asked Questions

What exactly is a python snake?

A green tree python.
A green tree python.

Pythons are a family of nonvenomous snakes found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. They are known for their constricting method of subduing prey, which involves wrapping their muscular bodies around the victim and tightening their coils until the prey suffocates. Pythons are also distinguished by their heat-sensing pits, which help them locate warm-blooded prey in their habitat.

How large can pythons grow?

Pythons may eat mice.
Pythons may eat mice.

Pythons are among the largest snakes in the world. The reticulated python, in particular, holds the record for the longest snake, with individuals reported to exceed lengths of 20 feet (6 meters). On average, pythons can range from 3 feet (1 meter) in some species to over 23 feet (7 meters) in others, according to the Smithsonian's National Zoo & Conservation Biology Institute.

What do pythons typically eat?

The woma python is typically found in Australia.
The woma python is typically found in Australia.

Pythons have a varied diet depending on their size and habitat. Smaller species may feed on rodents, birds, and lizards, while larger pythons can take down animals as big as antelopes, pigs, and even crocodiles. They are ambush predators, lying in wait for an unsuspecting animal to pass by before striking swiftly and constricting their prey.

Are pythons dangerous to humans?

While pythons are powerful snakes, they are generally not considered a significant threat to humans. Attacks on humans are rare and often involve captive snakes. Wild pythons tend to avoid human contact. However, large pythons should be treated with respect and caution, as they are capable of inflicting serious injuries if they feel threatened or are mishandled.

How do pythons reproduce?

Pythons are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. Females typically lay a clutch of eggs and exhibit maternal care by coiling around them to regulate their temperature through shivering thermogenesis. This behavior increases the temperature of the eggs, ensuring optimal conditions for the development of the embryos. The number of eggs per clutch varies by species and individual size.

What is the conservation status of python snakes?

The conservation status of pythons varies by species. Some, like the Burmese python, are listed as "Vulnerable" on the IUCN Red List due to habitat loss and over-exploitation for the pet trade and skin industry. Conservation efforts are in place for several species, aiming to protect their natural habitats and regulate trade to ensure their survival.

Discussion Comments


@Anon101333: I am entirely in agreement with you that large pythons (or any large snake) do not belong in homes. There is just no way the average person can safely care for a 20-foot snake. You just can't do it. An unpredictable 2-foot constrictor is an entirely different proposition from an unpredictable 15-foot constrictor. A large snake is a danger to household pets and small children. It may sound harsh, but that's the truth.

The average person doesn't have the room or the resources to adequately and humanely house and care for a big snake.


Can I put a baby ball python in with a medium sized ball python?


@ Higlighter- An Anaconda is actually a type of boa constrictor. While a reticulated python may be the longest snake, topping out over 30 feet, they are not the heaviest. Anacondas can grow into the high twenty-foot range, but can weigh one hundred pounds more than the largest reticulated python. Either way, a 250 pound, 33 foot long reticulated python will probably strike just as much fear in the heart of a person as a 350 pound, 25 foot long anaconda.


@, Highlighter- Pythons and Boa Constrictors are completely different species of snake. While they are both old world snakes (two lungs and no vestigial hind legs), and both constrictors they have differences. For one, pythons lay eggs while boas give birth to live young. They also have different head shapes, number of bones in their skull, and different numbers of teeth. They are not the same species at all.

Their habitats are also somewhat different. Pythons are only native to the old world; Africa, Asia, and Australia. Boa Constrictors on the other hand are found throughout the old and new world, except Europe. Pythons are also generally longer than Boas, while Boas tend to have more girth relative to species of similar length. Not all pythons and boas are long either. Royal (ball) pythons, emerald tree boas, sand boas, rainbow boas, and rosy boas are all typically less than seven feet long. Large snakes like the Indian rock python, the African rock python, the reticulated python, and the Anaconda all grow to be over 15 feet. Rock pythons, tree boas and pythons, and Anacondas can also be very aggressive, much like the Reticulated Python.


Pythons and boas are such creepy snakes. They get to be very big. Do all pythons get to be as large as reticulated pythons? What about an anaconda, is it a big python snake too? Which one is actually the largest snake, an anaconda or a reticulated python?


shouldn't pythons be illegal in house captivity in the U.S.?

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    • Pythons typically grow up to 25 feet.
      By: TMAX
      Pythons typically grow up to 25 feet.
    • Ball pythons are popular pet snakes.
      By: mikemoore88
      Ball pythons are popular pet snakes.
    • Reticulated pythons are native to the tropical areas of southeast Asia.
      By: fivespots
      Reticulated pythons are native to the tropical areas of southeast Asia.
    • A green tree python.
      By: Sarka
      A green tree python.
    • Pythons may eat mice.
      By: Anatolii
      Pythons may eat mice.
    • The woma python is typically found in Australia.
      The woma python is typically found in Australia.