Thai National Parks

Reptiles of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Reticulated python

Binomial name: Python reticulatus (Johann Gottlob Schneider, 1801)

The reticulated python (Python reticulatus) is a species of python found in Southeast Asia. They are the world's longest snakes and longest reptiles, but are not the most heavily built. Like all pythons, they are nonvenomous constrictors and normally not considered dangerous to humans. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, attacks are only occasionally reported.

An excellent swimmer, P. reticulatus has been reported far out at sea and has colonized many small islands within its range. The specific name, reticulatus, is Latin meaning "net-like", or , and is a reference to the complex color pattern.

Description

This species is the largest snake native to Asia. More than a thousand wild reticulated pythons in southern Sumatra were studied and estimated to have a length range of 1.5 to 6.5 m and a weight range of 1 to 75 kg. Reticulated pythons with lengths more than 6 m are rare, though according to the Guinness Book of World Records, it is the only extant snake to regularly exceed that length. A reticulated python of the same length as a green anaconda may weigh only half as much as the bulkier anaconda. One scientifically measured specimen, from Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, Indonesia, was measured under anesthesia at 6.95 m and weighed 59 kg after not having eaten for nearly 3 months. Widely published data of specimens that were reported to be several feet longer have not been confirmed.

The specimen once widely accepted as the largest-ever "accurately" measured snake, that being Colossus, a male kept at the Highland Park Zoo (now the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, during the 1950s and early 1960s, with a peak reported length of 8.7 m (28 ft 6 in) from a measurement in November 1956, was later shown to have been substantially shorter than previously reported. When Colossus died on April 14, 1963, its body was deposited in the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. At that time, its skeleton was measured and found to be 20 ft 10 in (6.35 m) in total length, being significantly shorter than the measurement previously published by Barton and Allen. The previous reports had been constructed by combining partial measurements with estimations to compensate for "kinks", since it is virtually impossible to completely straighten an extremely large live python. Because of these issues, a journal article concluded that "Colosus was neither the longest snake nor the heaviest snake ever maintained in captivity." Too large to be preserved with formaldehyde and then stored in alcohol, the specimen was instead prepared as a disarticulated skeleton. The hide was sent to a laboratory to be tanned, but it was either lost or destroyed, and now only the skull and selected vertebrae and ribs remain in the museum's collection.

Numerous reports have been made of larger snakes, but since none of these was measured by a scientist nor any of the specimens deposited at a museum, they must be regarded as unproven and possibly erroneous. In spite of what was for many years a standing offer of $50, 000 for a live, healthy snake over 30 m long by the New York Zoological Society (later renamed as the Wildlife Conservation Society), no attempt to claim this reward was ever made.

The color pattern is a complex geometric pattern that incorporates different colors. The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes flanked by smaller markings with light centers. In this species' wide geographic range, much variation of size, color, and markings commonly occurs.

In zoo exhibits, the color pattern may seem garish, but in a shadowy jungle environment amid fallen leaves and debris, it allows them to virtually disappear. Called disruptive coloration, it protects them from predators and helps them to catch their prey.

The smooth dorsal scales are arranged in 69–79 rows at midbody. There are deep pits on four anterior upper labials, on two or three anterior lower labials, and on five or six posterior lower labials.

Geographic range

Reticulated pythons are found in Southeast Asia from the Nicobar Islands, northeast India, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, east through Indonesia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago (Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands, the Natuna Islands, Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor, Maluku, Tanimbar Islands) and the Philippines (Basilan, Bohol, Cebu, Leyte, Luzon, Mindanao, Mindoro, Negros, Palawan, Panay, Polillo, Samar, Tawi-Tawi). The original description does not include a type locality. Restricted to "Java" by Brongersma (1972).

Three subspecies have been proposed, but are not recognized in the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS). The color and size can vary a great deal among the subspecies described. Geographical location is a good key to establishing the subspecies, as each one has a distinct geographical range.

Habitat

The reticulated python lives in rain forests, woodlands, and nearby grasslands. It is also associated with rivers and is found in areas with nearby streams and lakes. An excellent swimmer, it has even been reported far out at sea and has consequently colonized many small islands within its range. During the early years of the 20th century, it is said to have been common even in busy parts of Bangkok, sometimes eating domestic animals.

Feeding

Their natural diet includes mammals and occasionally birds. Small specimens up to 3 - 4 m long eat mainly rodents such as rats, whereas larger individuals switch to prey such as Viverridae (e.g. civets and binturongs), and even primates and pigs. Near human habitation, they are known to snatch stray chickens, cats, and dogs on occasion. Among the largest, fully documented prey items to have been taken are a half-starved sun bear of 23 kilograms that was eaten by a 6.95-m (22.8-ft) specimen and took some ten weeks to digest, as well as pigs of more than 60 kg (132 lb). As a rule, these snakes seem able to swallow prey up to one-quarter their own length and up to their own weight. As with all pythons, they are primarily ambush hunters, usually waiting until prey wanders within strike range before seizing it in their coils and killing by constriction. However, at least one case is reported of a foraging python entering a forest hut and taking a child.

Danger to humans

Attacks on humans are rare, but this species has been responsible for several human fatalities, in both the wild and captivity. They are among the few snakes that have been suggested to prey on humans. However, a few cases of a snake species consuming human beings have been authenticated . Reports of human fatalities and unauthenticated sources of human consumption include:

  • Two incidents, apparently in early 20th-century Indonesia: On Salibabu, a 14-year-old boy was killed and supposedly eaten by a specimen 5.17 m in length. Another incident involved an adult woman reputedly eaten by a "large reticulated python", but few details are known.
  • Franz Werner reported a case from Burma occurring either in the early 1910s or in 1927. A jeweller named Maung Chit Chine, who went hunting with his friends, was apparently eaten by a 6 m 1 aj=on specimen after he sought shelter from a rainstorm in or under a tree. Supposedly, he was swallowed feet-first, contrary to normal snake behavior, but perhaps the easiest way for a snake to actually swallow a human.
  • In 1932, Frank Buck wrote about a teenage boy who was eaten by a pet 25 m reticulated python in the Philippines. According to Buck, the python escaped, and when it was found, a human child's shape was recognized inside the snake. It turned out to be the son of the snake's owner.
  • Among a small group of Aeta negritos in the Philippines, six deaths by python have been documented within a period of 40 years, plus one who died later of an infected bite.
  • On September 4, 1995, Ee Heng Chuan, a 29-year-old rubber tapper from the southern Malaysian state of Johor, was killed by a large reticulated python. The victim had apparently been caught unaware and was squeezed to death. The snake had coiled around the lifeless body with the victim's head gripped in its jaws when it was stumbled upon by the victim's brother. The python, measuring 23 m long and weighing more than 300 lb, was killed soon after by the arriving police, who required four shots to bring it down.
  • On October 23, 2008, a 25-year-old Virginia Beach, Virginia woman, Amanda Ruth Black, appeared to have been killed by a 13 m 1 adj=on pet reticulated python. The apparent cause of death was asphyxiation. The snake was later found in the bedroom in an agitated state.
  • On January 21, 2009, a 3-year-old Las Vegas boy was wrapped by an 18 m 1 adj=on pet reticulated python, turning blue. The boy's mother, who had been babysitting the python on behalf of a friend, rescued the toddler by gashing the python with a knife. The snake was later euthanized because of its wounds.

Considering the known maximum prey size, it is technically possible for a full-grown specimen of P. reticulatus to open its jaws wide enough to swallow a human teenager, but the width of the shoulders of adult Homo sapiens would likely pose a problem for even a snake with sufficient size.

Reproduction

Oviparous, females lay between 15 and 80 eggs per clutch. At an optimum incubation temperature of 31–32°C (88–90°F), the eggs take an average of 88 days to hatch. Hatchlings are at least 2 ft (61 cm) in length.

Taxonomy

Three subspecies may be encountered, including two new ones:

  • P. r. reticulatus (Schneider, 1801) – Called "retics" in herpetoculture.
  • P. r. jampeanus Auliya et al., 2002 – Kayaudi dwarf reticulated pythons or Jampea retics, about half the length, or according to Auliya et al. (2002), not reaching much more than 2 m in length. Found on Tanahjampea in the Selayar Archipelago south of Sulawesi. Closely related to P. r. reticulatus of the Lesser Sundas.
  • P. r. saputrai Auliya et al., 2002 – Selayer reticulated pythons or Selayer retics. Found on Selayar Island in the Selayar Archipelago and also adjacent Sulawesi. This subspecies represents a sister lineage to all other populations of reticulated pythons tested. According to Auliya et al. (2002) it does not exceed 4 m in length.

The latter two are dwarf subspecies. Apparently, the population of the Sangihe Islands north of Sulawesi represents another such subspecies which is basal to the P. r. reticulatus plus P. r. jampeanus clade, but it is not yet formally described.

The proposed subspecies "dalegibbonsi", "euanedwardsi", "haydnmacphiei", "neilsonnemani", "patrickcouperi", and "stuartbigmorei" have not found general acceptance.

A recent phylogenetic study of pythons suggested that the reticulated python as well as the Timor python are more closely related to Australasian pythons, suggesting that they are an intermediate form between the Australasian pythons and the Afro-Asian genus Python, and should therefore be placed in a separate genus. Reynolds et al. described the genus Malayopython for this species and its sister species, the Timor python, M. timoriensis.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Subphylum
Vertebrata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Suborder
Serpentes
Family
Pythonidae
Genus
Python
Species
Python reticulatus

Common names

  • German: Netzpython
  • English: Reticulated python

Subspecies

  • Python reticulatus jampeanus (Mark Auliya et al., 2002)
  • Python reticulatus reticulatus (Johann Gottlob Schneider, 1801)
  • Python reticulatus saputrai (Mark Auliya et al., 2002)

Synonyms

  • Python reticulatus, Tanya Chan-Ard et al. (2015)
  • Malayopython reticulatus, R. Graham Reynolds et al. (2014)
  • Malayopython reticulatus saputrai, L. H. Rawlings et al. (2014)
  • Malayopython reticulatus jampeanus, L. H. Rawlings et al. (2014)
  • Python reticulatus, Van Stanley Bartholomew Wallach et al. (2014)
  • Python reticulatus jampeanus, Geiger & Stephan (2012)
  • Python reticulatus jampeanus, André Koch (2011)
  • Python reticulatus saputrai, André Koch (2011)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus, L. H. Rawlings et al. (2008)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus jampeanus, L. H. Rawlings et al. (2008)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus saputrai, L. H. Rawlings et al. (2008)
  • Python reticulatus jampeanus, De Lange & Gernot Vogel (2005)
  • Python reticulatus saputrai, De Lange & Gernot Vogel (2005)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus, Raymond Hoser (2004)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus dalegibbonsi, Raymond Hoser (2004)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus euanedwardsi, Raymond Hoser (2004)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus haydnmacphiei, Raymond Hoser (2004)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus neilsonnemani, Raymond Hoser (2004)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus patrickcouperi, Raymond Hoser (2004)
  • Broghammerus reticulatus stuartbigmorei, Raymond Hoser (2004)
  • Malayopython reticulatus jampeanus, Mark Auliya et al. (2002)
  • Malayopython reticulatus saputrai, Mark Auliya et al. (2002)
  • Python reticulatus, Roy W. McDiarmid, Jonathan A. Campbell & T'Shaka A. Touré (1999)
  • Python reticulatus, Merel J. Cox et al. (1998)
  • Python reticulatus, Ulrich Manthey & Wolfgang Grossmann (1997)
  • Python reticulatus, Arnold Girard Kluge (1993)
  • Morelia reticulatus, Kenneth R. G. Welch (1988)
  • Python reticulatus, John Roscoe Hendrickson (1966)
  • Python reticulatus, Malcolm Arthur Smith (1943)
  • Python reticulatus, George Albert Boulenger (1893)
  • Python reticulatus, André Marie Constant Duméril & Gabriel Bibron (1844)
  • Python reticulatus, John Edward Gray (1842)
  • Python schneiderii, Georges-Frédéric Cuvier (1831)
  • Constrictor schneideri, Johann Georg Wagler (1830)
  • Python reticulatus, Leopold Fitzinger (1826)
  • Python schneideri, Blasius Merrem (1820)
  • Boa phrygia, George Shaw (1802)
  • Coluber javanicus, George Shaw (1802)
  • Boa reticulata, Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider (1801)
  • Boa rhombeata, Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider (1801)

Reticulated python is found in following locations in Thailand

Please note that this non-official list is not complete nor necessarily accurate. This list is a summary of checklists from other websites, blogs, publications, photo/videos published on various websites or our own findings. We appreciate your contributions with photo proof.

Conservation status

Not Evaluated (IUCN3.1)

Not Evaluated (IUCN3.1)

Python reticulatus

Python reticulatus

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Python reticulatus

Python reticulatus

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Reticulated python (juvenile)

Reticulated python (juvenile)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Reticulated python (juvenile)

Reticulated python (juvenile)

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Thai National Parks

Distribution map of Reticulated python, Python reticulatus in Thailand

Range map of Python reticulatus in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are generated automatically based on very limited data we have about the protected sites, the data is not necessarily accurate. Please help us to improve our range maps by sharing your findings/knowledge.