A-z - Animals

Burmese python

This post may contain affiliate links to our partners such as Chewy, Amazon, etc. These purchases help us further AZ Animals' mission of educating the world's species.

Burmese pythons have beautifully patterned skin and fast growth. For anyone thinking of adopting a new reptile, the Burmese python should be left to someone with more experience with the animal. Too many adopters end up neglecting them and releasing them into the wild instead.

By nature, Burmese pythons do not seek out humans to hunt them. However, if they are mishandled or compromised, there is a risk (albeit admittedly low) of attack. Of all the Burmese pythons living in Florida (where it is an invasive species), no deaths have been reported so far. That said, you can consider them one of the top apex predators in the world.

These attacks are relatively common and can sometimes be fatal. They are one of the largest snakes in the world. The lifespan of Burmese pythons is about 20 years old, and the longest-lived record is 28 years old. Albino Burmese pythons are known to be the most popular.

Burmese python infographic

© AZ-Animals.com

5 Incredible Burmese Python Facts!

Here are some interesting facts about Burmese pythons:

  • Burmese pythons can have a girth as large as a utility pole.
  • They have beautiful patterned skin, but albino Burmese pythons are known to be the most popular.
  • Burmese pythons are probably the best snake choice for current and potential reptile owners, as they require experience to be properly handled.
  • In Florida, the Burmese python is an invasive species, meaning it is not native to the area and could cause significant economic or environmental harm.
  • They are endangered due to the high demand for their hide and meat.

Read more interesting facts about Burmese pythons here.



scientific name

Close-up of a Burmese python crawling on a tree.
The Burmese python is scientifically known as Python bivittatus

©iStock.com/Lunatic_67

The scientific name of the Burmese python is Python bivittatus . They belong to the kingdom Animalia and the phylum Chordate. This class is called Reptilia, and the order is called Squamata. At the same time, this suborder is called snakes, and this family is called pythons. The genus is called Python and the species is called P. bivittatus – the same as the scientific name.

The word "bivattatus" comes from a Latin translation meaning "with two bands or stripes". Considering the patterns on the Burmese python's scales, it's easy to see how well this description fits them.

evolution and origin

Burmese python
Burmese pythons have the incredible ability to expand the size of their organs after a big meal!

Burmese pythons have undergone incredible evolutionary adaptations that allow them to eat prey as large as their own body. This is achieved through their genetic ability to alter their metabolism and enlarge their organs after a meal. Additionally, they have evolved into long, limbless creatures with hinged jaws, reduced lungs, elongated bones, and the ability to produce venom. They are also able to adjust their metabolism in response to the availability of food.

Researchers from several countries studied the genetic makeup of Burmese pythons and king cobras. They compared the two, along with genome fragments from other reptiles, birds, amphibians and mammals, to study how snakes use the same genes as humans to do things that other vertebrates cannot. Exploring this incredible evolution is to gain insight into how pythons became such great eaters.

Read more  clouded leopard

By comparing the snake genomes, the scientists were able to observe how beneficial traits such as the Burmese python's ability to open its jaws were rapidly adopted over time. This speed is unprecedented in the history of animal evolution.

Snakes have their unique characteristics due to DNA mutations, changes in the way DNA instructions are interpreted in the body, and changes in reptile proteins. After eating, thousands of genes must coordinate with each other to cause changes in the python's body. The genes involved are like the blueprints for the proteins that make up human tissue, and the process of executing these genetic plans is called gene expression. After the pythons ate, the gene activity increased. Some genes that had been dormant became more active and produced large amounts of proteins that promote growth or metabolism.

Known for its extraordinary physiology, the genome of the Burmese python provides an opportunity to further explore the molecular processes that allow it to dramatically increase its metabolic rate, expand its organ size and suppress acid production. This research has potential implications for the treatment of human metabolic diseases and cancer.

appearance

Close-up of a Burmese python crawling on a tree.
Burmese pythons can weigh up to 200 pounds!

©lunadoc/Shutterstock.com

The Burmese python is known to be one of the largest snakes in the world. These snakes typically reach lengths of up to 23 feet (although 15 to 20 feet are more common) and weigh up to 200 pounds. One of their most distinctive features is their girth, which can be as wide and thick as a utility pole. However, when they are born as hatchlings, Burmese pythons are only about two feet long.

Burmese pythons are tan in color with dark spots on the back and sides of their bodies, mimicking the same patterns commonly seen on giraffes. However, the patches didn't cover their skin evenly and often looked like a puzzle piece.

Burmese pythons found in Florida are typically only 6 to 10 feet long, with adults as big as native snakes. Albino Burmese pythons are known to be the most popular.

Burmese python hanging from a tree, waiting for prey.
Burmese python hanging from a tree, waiting for prey.

©Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock.com

Behavior

Burmese python
Young Burmese pythons like to spend time in trees, but older pythons are usually too heavy.

© Firman Wahyudin/Shutterstock.com

Young Burmese pythons love to spend time in trees. However, as they mature and get older, their height and weight can make it difficult for them to cover the same distances, causing them to spend most of their time on the ground or in other low-elevation habitats.

When not on land, these pythons are excellent swimmers and can stay underwater for up to 30 minutes before having to surface for air. Despite having so many ways to move, one of the traits that make them less welcoming to others is their solitary behavior. Usually the only time a Burmese python is seen with another of its kind is during mating season, which usually occurs in the spring. They are relatively easy to breed in captivity.

Burmese pythons are known to be an invasive species in Florida as they are not native to the area. Unfortunately, they are often found in the area as they are released by reptile owners who are unable to care for them, which is highly irresponsible for the ecology of the area. These pythons can wreak havoc on ecosystems, hunting mammals that can cause major population problems. These pythons possess great strength and power, and can even prey on alligators, which has brought local researchers to the attention of Burmese pythons to unnatural ways of hunting and preying on native animals.

Read more  eagle spirit animal symbolism

Habitat

The most sleepy animal - boa constrictor
Since pythons don't close their eyes when they sleep, it can be difficult to assess whether a snake is awake at any given moment.

©Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock.com

Typically, these pythons are native to the jungle areas and grassy swamps of Southeast Asia. Native to Asia, these snakes are found in eastern India, Vietnam and southern China. They have also been found in Florida, despite the havoc wreaked on the environment by their former owner's release, which is why they are considered an invasive species.

These pythons are not commonly seen in southern Thailand, Myanmar or western Malaysia due to extreme weather. Instead, they are more easily found in Java, Bali, a small part of Sulawesi and Sumbawa.

diet

snake eat
Burmese pythons are carnivores and feed on meat.

These pythons are carnivorous and feed mainly on small mammals and birds. These snakes have poor eyesight and they use chemical receptors present in the tongues of these reptiles to track their prey. They also use heat sensors that exist along the jaw, although they don't move very fast. In fact, the animals move at only about a mile per hour, which gives them plenty of time to sense their surroundings.

These pythons have been known to grab their prey with their sharp teeth and wrap their bodies around it. They then squeeze the prey until it suffocates. These reptiles have very elastic ligaments that allow them to swallow their food whole.

These pythons eat baby mice when they are babies, but pet owners can still feed them adult mice and rabbits when they are adults. Their powerful jaws and bodies make it easy for them to eat whole chickens on their own.

While pythons are an important part of the food chain, they are also responsible for the destruction of ecosystems. This happens when these reptiles eat unnatural amounts of their prey, causing them to disappear from the world. The ecosystem will be disturbed.

Predators and Threats

crocodile eat
The only threats to the giant Burmese python are alligators and humans.

Because of their large size, these pythons don't have many natural predators. However, some crocodiles and humans tend to make some predators that they do have. Human activities such as industrialization and urbanization have also negatively impacted local populations of these pythons.

These snakes are now endangered because their habitat has been depleted and their demand as pets or even as a treat is too high. People search everywhere for authentic Burmese python skins, which is why they are in such high demand in the market.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Burmese python hatching
Burmese pythons can hatch up to 100 eggs at a time.

©Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock.com

Perhaps one of the most unique features scientists have discovered about the animal is that, unlike most reptiles, these pythons can reproduce by parthenogenesis, or asexual reproduction. Solitary females in captivity who do not have any contact with male Burmese pythons can still lay eggs. After genetic analysis, the researchers eventually found that the hatchlings produced by this breeding method were genetically identical to their mothers.

Read more  Pterodactyl vs. Pterodactyl: What's the Difference?

These giant pythons are not hordes of creatures. They are usually solitary and only come together for mating in the spring. A female Burmese python lays up to 100 eggs, which hatch for up to three months before pups emerge. To keep the eggs warm, female Burmese pythons shiver and contract their muscles.

These pythons are easy to breed in captivity. The lifespan of these snakes is about 20 years.

population

Burmese python stretching in the grass.
Burmese pythons are vulnerable to extinction due to humans.

©Yatra/Shutterstock.com

While it's impossible to say exactly how many of these pythons live in the world, a rough estimate puts them at 30,000 or more. However, over time, due to human activities, their high demand has landed them on the list of endangered reptile species. They are in high demand as people hunt them for their skin and meat. These pythons are classified as "vulnerable" snakes.

Burmese python populations are estimated to be in decline. They are listed as vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List due to a variety of threats, including illegal hunting, habitat loss through deforestation, being hit by cars on the road, and being killed as a pest or predator. endangered species.

Deforestation caused by livestock farming has had a huge impact on Burmese python populations as it reduces the available habitat for the species. Deforestation also removes the shady hiding places pythons like to keep warm on cold nights. Additionally, increased agricultural activity has resulted in more human interactions with pythons, which can lead to human and snake deaths. To help protect the Burmese python, conservation efforts should focus on protecting existing habitat while working with local communities and governments to reduce deforestation from livestock farming.

See all 280 animals that start with B

Burmese pythons are carnivores, often feeding on mice, rabbits and chickens.

Why are Florida's invasive Burmese pythons so destructive to the local environment?

Burmese pythons kill most of the small mammals in the Everglades, leading to catastrophic population declines because they are large predators that species in their environment are not adapted to. Additionally, research has shown that Florida pythons are hybrids that also contain rock python DNA, which is further adapted to their environment.

Burmese pythons are carnivores, often feeding on mice, rabbits and chickens.

Reports do not indicate deaths from Burmese python attacks. However, it is very common for these reptiles to attack the people who handle them. Sometimes, these attacks can be fatal.

While Burmese pythons can attack humans, deaths from such attacks are uncommon.

While Burmese pythons are an important part of the food chain, they are responsible for damaging ecosystems due to the depletion of some animal populations.

While Burmese pythons can attack humans, the animal hardly causes any deaths.

Burmese pythons are an important part of the food chain. However, they are responsible for damaging ecosystems due to the depletion of some animal populations.

The biggest difference between rock pythons and Burmese pythons is their size and distribution.

The biggest difference between Burmese pythons and ball pythons is their size and coloration.