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What is a Woma Python?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 21, 2024
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The woma python is a species of constrictor snake found in most areas of Australia. Also called a sand python or Ramsay's python, this snake prefers arid climates, usually living on sand plains or in dune fields. It is closely related to the black-headed python, the only other member of its genus. The scientific name for the woma python is Aspidites ramsayi.

Both species of the Aspidites genus are unique in the lack of small heat sensing holes in their jaws. These holes, or pits, are common in other species of python. The pits allow most pythons to sense their prey's body heat.

Like all pythons, woma pythons are not venomous, but do have teeth. Averaging 5 feet (about 1.5 m), woma pythons can reach lengths of nearly 10 feet (roughly 3 m). They are most commonly shades of brown or tan, with darker horizontal banding along their length. Their narrow heads are usually orange and blend with their thick bodies, which taper to thin tails. Their undersides are pale and usually cream-colored.

The woma python is nocturnal. During the day, it lives in logs or thick grass, sometimes even taking shelter in animal burrows. These pythons eat lizards, small mammals, and ground birds. Since they are immune to snake venom, woma pythons also eat many species of poisonous snakes.

Constrictor snakes grab their prey with their jaws, then coil around the animal, squeezing until it suffocates. In addition to this technique, the woma python also has another tactic to catch its prey; these snakes often attack inside the prey's burrow, crushing the animal against the wall of its home. Prey caught using this approach take longer to die than those caught with the traditional squeezing technique, so adult woma pythons often sport scars from the fighting prey.

Woma pythons mate from May to August. The females lay five to 19 eggs and then coil around the eggs to protect and incubate them. The young hatch after two or three months and, once hatched, are left on their own.

As of 2010, the woma python is considered endangered and is protected by the Western Australia Wildlife Conservation Act. Two factors have contributed to the decline of this species. Primarily, urban development has destroyed much of its habitat, reducing not only areas where it can live, but also the abundance of prey species in a given area. Also, the introduction of non-native foxes as predators have accelerated these snakes' decline.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Woma Python?

A Woma Python, also known as Aspidites ramsayi, is a non-venomous snake native to Australia. It's recognized for its distinctive narrow head and smooth scales, with a color pattern that typically includes shades of brown and tan. Woma Pythons are nocturnal and are known for their unique hunting strategy of pressing prey against the walls of burrows or caves.

Where can Woma Pythons be found in the wild?

Woma Pythons are found in various parts of Australia, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions. Their habitats range from sandy deserts to scrublands and grasslands. They are adept at surviving in harsh environments and can often be found sheltering in hollow logs, animal burrows, or under rocks.

What do Woma Pythons eat?

Woma Pythons have a diet that primarily consists of small mammals, such as rodents, and occasionally birds and lizards. They are constrictors, meaning they wrap their bodies around their prey to suffocate them before consumption. Their ability to hunt in confined spaces makes them particularly effective predators in their natural habitat.

How big do Woma Pythons get?

Woma Pythons are medium-sized snakes, with adults typically reaching lengths of 1.5 to 2.5 meters (4.9 to 8.2 feet). They have a slender build, which aids in their burrowing and hunting activities. Despite their size, they are known for their docile nature when encountered by humans.

Are Woma Pythons endangered?

According to the IUCN Red List, Woma Pythons are classified as 'Least Concern,' but their populations are subject to threats such as habitat loss, predation by feral animals, and collection for the pet trade. Conservation efforts are in place to monitor their status and ensure their survival in the wild.

Can Woma Pythons be kept as pets?

Woma Pythons are sometimes kept as pets by reptile enthusiasts due to their generally docile temperament and manageable size. However, potential owners should be aware that these snakes require specific care, including appropriate temperature gradients, hiding spots, and a diet of suitably sized prey. It's important to research and understand their needs thoroughly before considering them as a pet.

AllThingsNature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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