Burmese Python
Burmese Python.jpg
Conservation Status
Scientific Classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Pythonidae
Genus: Python
Species: P. bivittatus
Binomial Name
Python bivittatus
The Burmese Python is one of the five largest snakes in the world, native to a large variation of tropic and subtropic areas in Southern and Southeast Asia. Although primarily terrestrial, they are often found near water and are also occasionally semi-aquatic, but can also be found in trees. Wild individuals reach 3.7m long on average, but may reach up to 5.74m.


Burmese Python Head

Head close-up.

Burmese pythons are dark-colored with many brown blotches bordered in black running down the back, and a white belly with smooth scales forming noticeable grey horizontal lines. The beauty of their skin pattern contributes to their popularity among both reptile keepers and the leather industry. The python's skin is similar in colour, but different in pattern, from the African rock python, which sometimes results in confusion of the two species outside of their natural habitats. The African rock python can generally be distinguished by the tighter patterns of markings, compared to the Burmese python, which has bolder patterns on its skin.

In the wild, Burmese pythons generally grow to 3.7m, while specimens of more than 4m are uncommon. In general, individuals over 5 metres long are rare. The record length for a Burmese python is held by a female specimen named Baby, that lived at Serpent Safari, Gurnee, Illinois, for 27 years. Shortly after death, her length was determined to be 5.74 metres (18ft 10in). Widely published data of specimens that were reported to be several feet longer than this have not been verified.


Burmese Python eating Alligator

Eating an American alligator.

Like all snakes, the Burmese python is an obligate carnivore. Its diet primarily consists of birds and mammals with a width of up to twice of the python's own body diameter. Burmese pythons are also found close to human settlements due to the high presence of rodents and pets as prey. In fact, Burmese pythons are notorious in Florida for consuming pets. Exceptionally large specimens are known to take down pigs, goats, adult deer[1] and even alligators[2] and Florida panthers in Florida, where they have become invasive due to the abandonment of pets.

Burmese Python digesting American Alligator

X-Ray of the digestion of an American alligator.

Burmese pythons primarily hunt by ambush, lunging at nearby prey with mouth open and seizing prey in their jaws, with sharp, backwards-pointing teeth securing the prey, and proceeding to kill the prey by constriction. Prey is always swallowed whole and usually head-first. This may take several hours. Afterwards the python may not need to eat for several months, depending on the size and mass of the consumed prey item.