Burmese python

Scientific Name: Python bivittatus
Irish Name: Píotón Burmach

Burmese pythons are large snakes that are tan in colour with dark patches (similar to a giraffe pattern). They are one of the world’s largest snakes and can grow to lengths of 6 metres and the girth of a telephone pole. Burmese pythons are known for their unique way of ‘constricting’ or strangling their prey.

Burmese python

Burmese pythons are large snakes that are tan in colour with dark patches (similar to a giraffe pattern). They are one of the world’s largest snakes and can grow to lengths of 6 metres and the girth of a telephone pole. Burmese pythons are known for their unique way of ‘constricting’ or strangling their prey.

General Information

Burmese pythons are native to South East Asia and live in sub-tropical or tropical forests near water. They spend a lot of time in trees when they are young but when fully grown tend to live on the ground as it is easier for them than living in trees, they are also excellent swimmers.

Burmese pythons are classified as 'vulnerable' by the International Union of Conservation in Nature (IUCN) due to the illegal pet trade, hunting for their skins and food (including snake wine) and habitat degradation.

Physical description

Burmese pythons are tan in colour with dark blotches, similar to a giraffe pattern, with dark wedges on their head.

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

South East Asia, in tropical and sub-tropical forests near water.

What do they eat?

Burmese pythons are carnivorous and kill their prey by constricting it. In the wild young snakes will eat small mammals like rats, mice and birds. As the snake grows it will move on to larger prey like pigs and goats, and may even try to prey on alligators and deer. Captive snakes are usually fed rabbits.

Closest Related Species/Sister Species

Other species in the Pythonidae family are the Green Tree Python, the Reticulated Python, the Carpet Python, the Olive Python and the Bornean Short-tailed Python.

Zoo location

Zoorassic World

Animal Class

Reptilia

Animal Order

Squamata

Fun Facts

Bigs Snacks

Snakes can consume prey that is 75-100% of their own body size.

Big Jaw

Burmese pythons have stretchy ligaments in their jaws that allow them to swallow animals that are up to five times as wide as their head.

Smell

Snakes can smell with their tongues, and they flick their tongues to pick up the scent of nearby prey or predators.

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Family Life

Burmese pythons are solitary animals, and generally only meet during mating season. They spend a lot of time in trees when they are young, but as their weight and size increases they spend more time on the ground. They are also excellent swimmers and can hold their breath underwater for up to 30 minutes.

Baby Name

A young snake is called a snakelet

Gestation period

Incubation period of 2-3 months

Number of young at birth

Females lay clutches of up to 100 eggs

Age at maturity

2-3 years

Size adult (height cms/weight kgs)

Burmese pythons can grow to up to 6m in length and up to 140 kg. They are among the largest snakes on earth.

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Conservation

Threats

Illegal trade is the main threat for Burmese pythons, who are hunted for their skins, for food (like snake wine) and for the illegal pet trade. Habitat degradation is also posing a risk.

IUCN status

Vulnerable (in their native range)

Current population estimate

The IUCN website did not give a population estimate

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FAQs

  • What do burmese pythons eat?

    Burmese pythons are carnivorous and kill their prey by constricting it. In the wild young snakes will eat small mammals like rats, mice and birds. As the snake grows it will move on to larger prey like pigs and goats, and may even try to prey on alligators and deer. Captive snakes are usually fed rabbits.

  • How big do burmese pythons get?

    Burmese pythons can grow to up to 6m in length and up to 140 kg. They are among the largest snakes on earth.

  • Where are burmese pythons from?

    Burmese pythons are native to South East Asia and live in tropical and sub-tropical forests near water. They have also established themselves in the Florida Everglades as an invasive species.

  • Are burmese pythons venomous?

    Pythons are not venomous, but kill their prey by constriction instead.

  • How long do burmese pythons live?

    Burmese pythons live up to 25 years in zoos or as pets. Lifespan in the wild is unknown.

  • How does the burmese python affect the ecosystem?

    Burmese pythons are an invasive species in the Everglades in Florida, where escaped or abandoned pet snakes established a breeding population. This has led to a significent decline in a number of native animals like raccoons, opossums and rabbits. On the other hand, the decline of some of these egg-eating mammals has led to an increase in ground-nesting animals like turtles, lizards and some songbirds due to less nest disturbance and egg predation. Burmese pythons therefore have a significant impact on the complex ecosystem of the Everglades.

  • How did the burmese python get to America?

    Burmese pythons are popular as pets, and escaped or abandoned animals made themselves at home in the Florida Everglades. It is believed that an estimated 1,000 pythons escaped during hurricane Andrew in 1992 which destroyed a breeder’s facility just south of Miami.

  • How often does a burmese python eat?

    Snakes can go for months without food by lowering their metabolic rate.

  • Are burmese pythons endangered?

    Burmese pythons are classed as vulnerable by the IUCN, with a decreasing population trend.

  • How many babies do burmese pythons have?

    A female python lays clutches of up to 100 eggs.

  • Do burmese pythons make good pets?

    Burmese pythons are huge snakes, which are expensive to keep, and they require an experienced owner as they are potentially dangerous.

  • How fast does a burmese python grow?

    Well-fed, captive hatchlings can double their size in a matter of weeks, reaching nearly 2m (6 feet) in length before they are 6 months old. The growth rate slows as the snake gets older.

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