Water Python

 

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Range: Australia

Habitat: Always found near water, swamp environments.

Natural Diet: Small mammals & birds, fish.

Diet at RainForest: Pre-killed rodents.

Size: Females 7 feet, Males 5-6 feet  This is often the case with python species that the females tend to grow a little larger than the male snakes.

RainForest Facts: This species is sometimes referred to as the Brown Water Python

Not a brightly colored snake, the Water Python can be quite aggressive.  Large, heat sensing pits can be seen under the lower jaw bones of these snakes.  Females produce up to 20 eggs per clutch.

This species of python can occur in highly dense populations when enough prey, usually rats, are available.

All Pythons are constrictors.  Snakes that hunt using constriction as a means of subduing prey will very quickly grab their prey with their teeth using a very fast strike. The constrictor will quickly wrap coils of their bodies around the prey and squeeze or constrict the prey item.  This process does not actually crush the prey and break its bones as is widely reported in the media.  Instead, they squeeze tightly so that the prey animal canít breath and it suffocates, this process usually requires about 3-4 minutes for the prey animal to be killed.

Once the snake is certain the prey item is dead they then begin to search for the animals head, virtually all prey animals are consumed head first.  This process allows the snake to literally "fold" the arms and legs of the prey animal back as the creature is swallowed. 

Contrary to popular belief a snake does not "unhinge" it's jaws, the jaws in fact are not actually attached in a mechanical way.  Long tendons and muscles connect the upper and lower jaws.  The lower jaw is actually made up of two separate bones to further enhance the animals ability to manipulate large prey items.

Once the snake has the animal past it's jaws a series rhythmic muscular contractions then pull the prey down the snakeís throat and into its stomach.   A very large prey item can be observed in the snakes stomach as a large bulge.  Contrary to popular belief the large prey item is not digested by slowing moving down the length of the snake.  Once the prey animal reaches the stomach, usually about 20 minutes for a very large item, the food item is stationary in the snakes stomach as it is gradually digested.   

The size of the meal can have an impact on the duration of the digestion, but external factors such as ambient air temperature play a larger roll.  The snake must be careful not to eat when temperatures are too cool, the meal will quite literally decompose faster than the snake can digest it, causing a gaseous bloating in the snake that can result in death.  Ideal air temperatures allow the snake to digest the meal prior to the food item decomposing!  Snakes often will regurgitate a meal when the conditions do not allow it to properly digest the meal, this can include both temperatures that are too high and too low!

How does the snake breathes while its mouth is full? It has a special tube in the bottom of its mouth that stays open to one side to take in air.

Similar in color and irradiance to the Colombian Rainbow Boa, this species can exhibit extremely bright rainbow like colors in the right light.

 

Status in Wild: Declining, primarily due to over collection for the skin trade as well as human consumption.  This species can prosper around human habitation better than others.  It will tolerate the presence of humans and the rodents that are often attracted in great numbers to our agriculture as well as commercial activities.

 

This species is currently not on display at RainForest Adventures

 

 

RainForest Adventures zoo, Smoky Mountains, Tennessee near Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge TN