The reticulated python is the largest snake in the world—up to 9 metres long—a record that can only the South American anaconda con compete with. However, the average size of the species is from five to six metres. Like the large majority of snake species, the females are larger than the males.
Quite aquatic, it inhabits the tropical jungles of Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
Bangladesh, Brunei, Myanmar, India, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
- Distribution / Resident
- Extint in the wild
- Critically endangered
- In Danger
- Near threatened
- Minor concern
- Insufficient data
- Not evaluated
Discover how they are
They have proportionally thin bodies compared to other large boas, and a triangular head, with heat-receptive fossettes on the labial and sublabial scales. Eyes have black pupils surrounded by brown or orange. A black line runs from each eye to the corner of the mouth.
Its colouring allows it to virtually disappear in its shadowy jungle habitat, as the body is ochre, greyish-yellow, olive and red, with black hexagonal or rectangular spots delimited by black lines. These lines expand on the sides, surrounding white or grey eyes. The tail is prehensile.
It lives in tropical rainforests and prefers swampy areas, small watercourses, slow flowing rivers and even rice paddies. It can often be found close to towns and cities, where it feeds at rubbish tips.
They feed on a large variety of mammals and birds, as well as large lizards. Unlike the anaconda, the reticulated python is agile and fast, and can slither up trees to hunt prey like primates. Large individuals can eat deer, wild boars and other quite large mammals and they have attacked people, especially children.
They lay up to 20 extremely large eggs in grassy nests that the female incubates by wrapping herself around them. Incubation lasts from 60 to 80 days and the babies can measure 60 or 70 cm at the time of birth.
They are excellent swimmers and are sometimes even seen in open seas, which lets them easily colonise small islands. The reticulated python was one of the first reptiles to colonise the island of Krakatoa after the volcanic eruption in 1883. It also spends a lot of time in trees, especially the young, and like to rest wrapped around tree branches.
It often hunts at night by ambush, remaining immobile until the prey is very close, at which time it strikes with lightning speed, biting the prey and wrapping itself around until its death by asphyxiation.
Their populations are exploited both for the live animal trade and for the skin trade, and they are considered very valuable in the leather industry.