Classification and Range
The reticulated python is a species of snake found in Southeast Asia. Its common name reticulated refers the complex color pattern. The color pattern of this snake's skin is a complex geometric pattern incorporating tan, brown, golden yellow and black. The back typically has a series of irregular diamond shapes which are flanked by smaller markings with light centers. In this species' wide range, much variation of size, color, and markings commonly occurs. In the shadowy rain forest environment amid fallen leaves and debris, pythons' patterns allow them to virtually disappear.
Called a disruptive coloration, it protects them from predators and helps them catch prey. Found in Southeast Asia from the Nicobar Islands, Bangladesh, Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore, east through Indonesia and the Indo-Australian Archipelago consisting of Sumatra, the Mentawai Islands, the Natuna Islands, Borneo, Sulawesi, Java, Lombok, Sumbawa, Sumba, Flores, Timor, Maluku, and the Tanimbar Islands, and the Philippines.
Reticulated pythons inhabit the rain forests, grasslands and woodlands of Southeast Asia. They are usually associated with bodies of water and are excellent swimmers.
Length and Weight
Length: Adults can grow upwards to 28 feet (8.5 m) in length but normally grow to an average of 10–20 feet. Weight: Up to 300 pounds. They are the world's longest snakes and longest reptile, but are not the most heavily built. Like all python species, they are non venomous constrictors. Although large specimens are powerful enough to kill an adult human, attacks are rare.
In the zoo: May live 20 years or more. In the wild: Around 15–20 years
In the zoo: usually rats, quail (not fed live)
In the wild: nearly anything they can catch, but usually rats, birds, sometimes pigs and binturong
Females are oviparous, or egg-bearing, and typically lay between 15 and 80 eggs per clutch. Females become sexually mature at around 4 years old and males around 18 months. At an optimum incubation temperature of 31–32°C (88–90 °F), the eggs take an average of 88 days to hatch. The eggs are off-white in color and have a soft, leathery shell. The female pythons coil their bodies around their eggs and protect them until they are ready to hatch. This behavior is known as brooding and prevents the eggs from getting too warm or too cool.
Young pythons emerge from their leathery egg casings by cutting a slit in the eggshell with their egg tooth, a temporary sharp projection on the upper lip, and usually average a birth length of about 2 feet (60.96 cm). The young snakes almost immediately are ready to be predators, but first go through a skin shed before their first meal about two weeks after birth, searching out small rodents and birds to consume. Pythons are ambush feeders and will lie in wait for nearly any animal that comes into their path, primarily rodents and birds, though they can consume animals up to about a quarter of their length and nearly their body weight.
Location at the Zoo
The reticulated python at the zoo is an 8-year-old male and weighs about 100 pounds (as of 5/2011). He can be seen, as well as a variety of other reptiles and amphibians, in the zoo's Day Exhibit.
Like many snake and other reptiles and amphibian species, reticulated python populations are diminishing in the wild. This is primarily due to destruction of their habitat through logging, mining and other development as well as over-collection due to the pet trade and for their skin which is made into leather goods such as purses, belts, and watch bands. The zoo is actively involved in conservation programs and recovery projects for a number of reptile and amphibian species including the Western Pond Turtle Recovery Project and the Oregon Spotted Frog Recovery Project here in the Pacific Northwest, support of the Turtle Survival Alliance, Amphibian ARK, Egyptian Tortoise Conservation Project, the International Iguana Foundation, Komodo Dragon Species Survival Plan, Louisiana Pine Snake Recovery Project, and amphibian conservation in Andasibe, Madagascar.
How You Can Help!
Reticulated pythons are not an endangered species. However, effort to save reptiles and amphibians requires cooperation and support at the international, national, regional and individual levels. You can help in this cause. If you must have a reptile or amphibian as a pet, make sure you know where they came from and that they were hatched from captive stock from a responsible breed. Refrain from buying leather or other products made from wild caught reptiles and amphibians. Ensure that you know as much as you can about their care and NEVER release a non-native reptile or amphibian into the wild (learn more in "Reptiles as Pets" section below). Join and become active in Woodland Park Zoo and other conservation organizations of your choice. Let your elected representatives know your views about protecting endangered species and wild habitats. Contact Woodland Park Zoo at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out other ways you can support conservation programs at the zoo.
Reptiles as Pets
We do not recommend reptiles as pets for most people as they require very specialized diets and environments. We also receive hundreds of requests each year to take former pet iguanas, boas and other reptiles but we cannot accept these due to space, health and unknown backgrounds. If you need to find a reptile or amphibian a new home, we suggest you contact a local herpetological group in your area. In the Puget Sound region, contact the Pacific Northwest Herpetological Society as a resource. If you do choose to get a reptile as a pet, please learn as much as possible about their care and the best species before making your decision and never accept wild-caught animals as pets or release non-native reptiles or amphibians into the wild.
Sources and Suggested Reading
Giant Constricting Snakes: http://www.giantconstrictingsnakes.com/Reticulatus.html
Reptile Database: http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species.php?genus=Broghammerus&species=reticulatus
Encyclopedia of Life: http://www.eol.org/pages/13843012