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What is an Indian Python?

By Erica Stratton
Updated May 21, 2024
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The Indian python—Latin name Python molurus molurus—is a type of large snake native to Asia. It is a subspecies of the Burmese python. Like many members of the python family, Indian pythons are renowned for their swallowing ability. They are considered a species on the borderline of being officially endangered.

An Indian python can be identified by its coloration, which consists of dramatic dark brown spots on a beige background. The spots are edged in black. An Indian python will also have a tan, V-shaped marking on its head.

A python has very poor eyesight. To locate its prey, it relies on two "heat pits" located on its head, which gauge the difference between the surrounding temperatures and a warm body. Pythons seldom move in order to conserve energy, but once they have discovered signs of prey, they will stalk it by following its heat trail.

Size-wise, an Indian python can grow to be up to 9-feet-long (2.74 m). Like all pythons, it feeds on small reptiles, birds and mammals, suffocating them in its coils before swallowing them whole. It can also swim and is adept at climbing trees.

Despite these fearsome qualities, there are no definite reports of an Indian python attacking and swallowing a human. Legends and rumors still persist. Though they are hunted for their skin, Indian pythons are also killed out of fear when they are seen too close to human habitation.

In some countries, hunting the python has become outlawed out of the fear it will become extinct. Poaching still continues, because hunting the Indian python is good for local economies. Besides selling its hide to make fashionable purses and boots, python blood is considered a holistic cure.

Indian pythons are distinguished from other types of pythons in one other way: the length of their cloacal spurs. These are two "vestigial limbs" located on either side of the snake's anus. They are the most prominent in males and are used to massage and otherwise pleasure the female during courtship.

When mating, the male python will rub up against a female and flick his tongue all over her. Then, holding her with his cloacal spurs, he will insert one of his two penises. Five to 30 minutes later, the mating will be finished.

Three to four months later, the female python will lay up to 100 7-oz. eggs. Curling around them for warmth, the female python will "shiver" to raise her body temperature to incubate the eggs. She'll guard the eggs for several months, but once they hatch, the baby pythons will be able to fend for themselves almost immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Indian Python?

An Indian Python, also known as Python molurus, is a large nonvenomous snake species native to the Indian subcontinent. It's recognized for its impressive size, with adults typically reaching lengths of up to 3 meters, although some can grow up to 6 meters. They are known for their distinctive color pattern that provides excellent camouflage in their natural habitats.

Where can you find Indian Pythons in the wild?

Indian Pythons are found in a variety of habitats across the Indian subcontinent, including grasslands, swamps, marshes, and rocky foothills. They are also known to inhabit forested regions. Their range extends from India through Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, reflecting their adaptability to different environments.

What do Indian Pythons eat?

Indian Pythons are carnivorous and have a diet that primarily consists of mammals and birds. They are ambush predators, using their camouflaged skin to blend into their surroundings before striking. They constrict their prey, suffocating it before consumption. Larger pythons can take down sizeable prey such as deer or antelope.

How do Indian Pythons reproduce?

Indian Pythons are oviparous, meaning they lay eggs. Females typically lay between 20 to 100 eggs per clutch and exhibit maternal care by coiling around the eggs to protect them and regulate their temperature. The incubation period lasts about 60 to 90 days, after which the hatchlings emerge fully independent.

Are Indian Pythons endangered?

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Indian Python is listed as Vulnerable. This status is due to habitat loss, poaching for their skin, and being hunted for the exotic pet trade. Conservation efforts are in place to protect their habitats and regulate trade to ensure their survival.

Can Indian Pythons be kept as pets?

While Indian Pythons can be kept as pets, they require specialized care and a significant amount of space due to their large size. Potential owners should be aware of the legal restrictions, as Indian Pythons are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). It's crucial to ensure that any pet python is sourced responsibly and legally.

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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