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Tiger Python (Python molurus)

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In our time, more and more often such huge snakes can be found in private estates, in home terrariums. One of the most popular boas for keeping in a house or apartment are tiger pythons. Fans of exoticism are not stopped even by the fact that these beautiful creatures are very large (there are cases when a reptile of this species reached sizes over 9 meters). In nature, tiger pythons are divided into subspecies:

  1. Two-tape (dark tiger python).
  2. Indian (light tiger python).
  3. Tiger Python Ceylon.

Two-ribbon and Indian pythons have similar patterns - on a brownish background, large dark red spots of irregular shape. On the sides there are small spots, inside of which there are light circles - eyes. Dark python differs from light python in a more saturated color and the absence of white eyes in the lateral spots. He grows up to 8 meters and has a very cool and evil temper. The Indian is inferior to its dark relative in size, it does not grow more than 6 meters, the character of a light python is much calmer than an aggressive two-tape boa.
The Ceylon python is in no way inferior to the other two subspecies in the beauty of color and pattern. The character is flexible and calm, the length of such a snake is not more than 4 meters.

In talking about what pythons are in nature, it is impossible not to recall the albino boa. This beautiful creature is much more beautiful than its dark relatives. Tiger albino python cannot survive in the wild, as it does not have a protective color. Such a snake with bright yellow skin, which miraculously shimmers in the rays of light, is successfully grown and bred in captivity. The body of this handsome man is white, only his back is painted with patterns of yellow spots, because of this coloring the albino snake was called the “Golden Python”.

Content

Before starting a snake of such a large size at home, you need to equip a suitable terrarium for it. The snake house should be equipped with additional heating, it is necessary to create an atmosphere close to natural in it. To do this, it is enough to place branches, driftwood and stones in the terrarium. At the same time, pay attention to the fact that there are no sharp corners about which the pet can hurt itself.

For the normal existence of the python, he regularly needs fresh water. Therefore, mini-pools and drinking bowls are necessary for the animal. They must also be installed in order to maintain high humidity (90%) in the snake kingdom. The temperature in the terrarium should be about 27 degrees during the daytime and about 23 degrees at night. For heating, it is better to choose one of the branches, placing a heat source above it. Thus, the reptile will have its own comfortable and warm “sofa”. In such a place to rest should be 33-35 degrees.

Nutrition

The tiger python will need more and more food as it grows. First, the owner needs to decide what method of feeding he will use. If you give the predator live food, then the natural hunting instincts will play in it with a vengeance. This is not always desirable, and a python sacrifice can, in defense, injure your pet.

If you feed a handsome man with frozen food, then these problems immediately disappear. Python will not be too bloodthirsty, and the possibility of injury in the heat of a hunting battle is excluded by itself.

The first feeding consists of one mouse once a week. Then the python, whose length reaches 1.5 m, will need a larger rodent, such as a rat. When the tiger pet crosses the 2 m line, it is recommended to use rabbits and chickens as food.

Molting

All reptiles change their beautiful skin from time to time. During intensive growth, young pythons “dress up” in this way once a month. The adult tiger python molts every few months. There is no exact definition of the molting frequency. A snake can change its skin every 3 months, or maybe every 6 months, it depends on the environment, on age, on the size of a reptile giant.

Breeding

Tiger python, with proper care, reproduces well in captivity. The female of this large species of snakes is considered one of the best mothers among reptiles. After a mating period, she lays eggs (8-50 pieces), their number depends on the size and age of the future mother.

After laying, the parent wraps around her and begins to hatch. The incubation period ranges from 70 to 80 days at a temperature of about 30 degrees. The temperature regime is maintained due to muscle contractions of the tiger hen. In due time, small pitchers are born 40-60 cm long.

Python snakes: interesting facts

Snakes are able to not only terrify people, many hand pythons live in home terrariums, which coexist peacefully next to humans. But no matter how peaceful the creepy pet is, it still remains a predator with the power that is dangerous to human life. The owner of a giant snake, whose life knows many interesting facts, must always remember this.

In places where pythons live in a natural environment, rural residents regard them as domestic cats that exterminate rodents. Noticing such a snake neighborhood near his house, the owner is only happy and completely not afraid.

Pythons have a unique jaw structure that is too loose on the bones of the skull. During the meal, the predator pulls one jaw on the prey, while the other jaw, or rather the teeth located on it, holds the prey. Then, alternating between grabbing teeth and pulling on the jaw, the python completely swallows the food.

The bite of a tiger python is terrible and dangerous. It is almost impossible to escape from the jaws of this monster. In order to protect citizens from the irresponsible owners of huge reptiles, the authorities of some localities are beginning to pass laws that prohibit the holding of snakes in home terrariums whose length exceeds 1.8 m.

If a person decided to settle such a huge miracle of nature next to him, then he should know that the tiger python has an amazing ability to break terrariums, like simple cardboard boxes. Resting his nose against one wall of his house, and his tail into another, the snake begins to straighten like a spring. As a result of such exercises, the predator is free. So the choice of a terrarium must be approached with all seriousness.

16.07.2019

Tiger python (lat. Python molurus) - is one of the largest representatives of the Python family (Pythonidae). Individual specimens grow up to 6 m in length and weigh more than 50 kg. Their dimensions are only slightly inferior to reticulated pythons (Python reticulatus). These are very strong animals that can strangle even an adult leopard with a strong hug.

The English writer Rudyard Kipling in the storybook “The Jungle Book”, which tells of the adventures of wolf-raised little boy Mowgli, described the Kaa tiger python as one of the oldest and wisest creatures in the world.

The meat of this reptile is very much appreciated in the countries of Southeast Asia. Especially popular dishes from it are used in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Guangzhou. Her bones, skin and internal organs are used for medical purposes. They can be freely purchased at pharmacies and local markets. The skin goes to the manufacture of shoes, musical instruments and various products in the leather industry.

Breeding

Pythons usually become mature at the age of 2.5-4 years.

Before mating pythons, it is advisable to winter (cool). After withdrawal from wintering, snakes are well fed, adding preparations containing vitamin “E” to the feed for 2-3 weeks. The first sign of the beginning of the mating season is: refusal of food from males who do not eat during the entire period of sexual activity, 3-4 months. Then the males and females are planted together. Copulations last a long time from 2 to 5 hours. Pythons can mate from September to February. After mating, after 60-155 days, the females lay their eggs.

You can leave the eggs in the terrarium, since in nature pythons themselves “incubate” the clutch, but it is better to transfer the clutch to the incubator. At a temperature of 31-32 ° C, the young hatch after 55-85 days. Toddlers begin to eat immediately after the first molt. The maintenance of babies is no different from adults, except that they are fed once 5-7 days.

Origin of view and description

Photo: Tiger Python

The taxonomy of the tiger python has been a subject of debate for over 200 years. Two subspecies are now recognized. Based on recent studies, the status of a species is discussed for two forms. An adequate study of tiger pythons has not yet been completed. However, previous observations in India and Nepal show that the two subspecies live in different, sometimes even in the same places and do not mate with each other, therefore, it is proposed that each of these two forms has significant morphological differences.

Video: Tiger Python

On the Indonesian islands of Bali, Sulawesi, Sumbawa and Java, some geographical and morphological aspects of animals have led to significant changes. These populations are located more than 700 kilometers from the mainland animals and show differences in character and formed dwarf forms in Sulawesi, Bali and Java.

Due to differences in size and color, scientists want to distinguish this dwarf form as a separate subspecies. Molecular genetic studies of the status of this dwarf form are still controversial. It remains unclear how deeply the other Indonesian island populations differ from the mainland.

Another of the alleged subspecies is found exclusively on the island of Sri Lanka. Based on the color, pattern and number of shields on the underside of the tail, it shows differences from the mainland subspecies. However, most experts consider the difference insufficient. Tiger pythons of this region reflect the expected range of variation of individuals in the population. After molecular genetic research, it became clear that the tiger python is the closest to the Hieroglyphic python.

Appearance and features

Photo: Tiger Python

Tiger pythons are dimorphic, females are longer and heavier than males. Males have larger cloacal processes or rudimentary limbs than females. The cloacal processes are two projections, one on each side of the anus, which are extensions of the hind limbs.

The skins are marked with a rectangular mosaic pattern that runs along the entire length of the animal. They are a tan or yellow-olive background with asymmetric enlarged dark brown spots of various shapes, forming amusing patterns. Dark stripes cross the eyes, starting near the nostrils and fading into spots on the neck. The second strip begins at the bottom of the eyes and crosses the labrum.

Tiger pythons are divided into two recognized subspecies that differ in physical characteristics:

  • Burmese pythons (P. molurus bivitatus) can grow to a length of about 7.6 m and weigh up to 137 kg. It has a darker color, with shades of brown and dark cream rectangles that lie on a black background. This subspecies is also characterized by marking in the form of an arrow, present on the top of the head with which the drawing begins,
  • Indian pythons, P. molurus molurus, remain smaller, reaching a maximum of about 6.4 m in length and weighing up to 91 kg. It has similar markings with light brown and brown rectangles located on a creamy background. On the top of the head is only a partial arrow-shaped marking. Each flake has one color,
  • the head is massive, wide and moderately separated from the neck. The lateral position of the eyes gives a field of view of 135 °. A strong gripping tail is about 12% in females and in males up to 14% of the total length. Thin, elongated teeth are consistently pointed and bent to the throat. In the front of the upper oral cavity there is an intermaxillary bone with four small teeth. The upper jaw bone supports from 18 to 19 teeth. Of these, the 2-6th teeth are the largest.

Where does the tiger python live?

Photo: Snake Tiger Python

It populates the lower half of the Asian continent. Its range extends from southeast Pakistan to India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal. It is assumed that the western limit of the species is the Indus Valley. In the north, the range may extend to Qingchuan County, Sichuan, China, and in the south to Borneo. Indian tiger pythons seem to be absent on the Malay Peninsula. It remains to be determined whether the populations scattered across several small islands are indigenous or wild, escaped domestic animals.

Two species have different distribution areas:

  • P. molurus molurus is native to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal,
  • P. molurus bivitatus (Burmese python), lives from Myanmar east through southern Asia through China and Indonesia. He is not on the island of Sumatra.

The tiger python snake is found in various habitats, including tropical forests, river valleys, meadows, forests, shrubs, grassy marshes and semi-foothills. They settle in places that can provide sufficient shelter.

This species is never found very far from water sources and seems to prefer a very humid area. They depend on a constant source of water. Sometimes they can be found in abandoned burrows of mammals, hollow trees, dense thickets and mangroves.

Now you know where the tiger python lives. Let’s see what he eats.

What does a tiger python eat?

Photo: Tiger python albino

The diet consists mainly of live prey. Its main products are rodents and other mammals. A small portion of its diet consists of birds, amphibians and reptiles.

The range of prey varies from mammals and birds to cold-blooded lizards and amphibians:

When searching for food, a tiger python can pursue prey or ambush. These snakes have very poor eyesight. To compensate for this, the species has a very developed sense of smell, and in each scale along the upper lip there are notches that feel the heat of the nearest prey. They kill prey by biting and squeezing until the victim suffocates. The affected victim is then swallowed whole.

Interesting fact: In order to swallow prey, the python shifts its jaws and stretches highly elastic skin around the prey. This allows snakes to swallow foods that are many times larger than their own heads.

Studies of tiger pythons showed that when digesting a large food animal, the heart muscle of a snake can increase by 40%. The maximum increase in heart cells (hypertrophy) is achieved after 48 hours due to the conversion of proteins into muscle fibrils. This effect contributes to an energetically more favorable increase in cardiac output, which speeds up digestion.

In addition, the entire digestive system adapts to digestive conditions. So up to three times the mucous membrane increases two days after feeding. After about a week, it shrinks to its normal size. The entire digestion process requires up to 35% of the energy absorbed from production.

Features of character and lifestyle

Photo: Big Tiger Python

The tiger python snake is absolutely not a social animal that spends most of its time alone. Mating is the only time that these snakes meet in pairs. They begin to move only when there is little food or when they are in danger.Tiger pythons first detect prey by smell or by feeling the heat of the victim’s body with their thermal fossa, and then follow the trail. These snakes are mainly found on the ground, but sometimes climb trees.

Tiger pythons are active mainly at dusk or at night. Daytime initiative is closely related to ambient temperature. In areas with significant seasonal temperature differences, they seek shelter with a more pleasant, more constant microclimate in the cool and hot months.

Interesting fact: In areas with lakes, rivers and other bodies of water, representatives of both subspecies live a semi-aquatic life. In water, they move much faster and more agile than on land. During swimming, their body, with the exception of the tip of the snout, is completely immersed in water.

Often tiger pythons are partially or completely submerged for several hours in shallow water. They remain completely under water for half an hour without breathing air, or only stick their nostrils to the surface of the water. Tiger python seems to be avoiding the sea. In the colder months, from October to February, Indian pythons remain hidden and usually enter a short hibernation period until the temperature rises again.

Social structure and reproduction

Photo: Tiger Python albino

Tiger python reaches puberty at the age of 2-3 years. At this time, courtship may begin. During courtship, the male wraps his body around the female and repeatedly clicks her tongue over her head and body. Once they level the cesspools, the male uses his rudimentary legs to massage the female and stimulate her. As a result, copulation occurs when the female raises her tail so that the male can insert one hemipenis (he has two of them) into the female’s cloaca. This process lasts from 5 to 30 minutes.

In the middle of the hot season in the month of May 3-4 months after mating, the female searches for a nesting place. This place consists of a serene shelter under a bunch of branches and leaves, a hollow tree, a termite or an uninhabited cave. Depending on the size and condition of the female, she lays an average of 8 to 30 eggs weighing up to 207 g. The largest clutch recorded in northern India numbered 107 eggs.

Interesting fact: During incubation, the female uses muscle contractions to raise her body temperature slightly higher than the surrounding air temperature. This increases the temperature by 7.3 ° C, which allows incubation in colder regions, while maintaining an optimal incubation temperature of 30.5 ° C.

White eggs with soft shells are 74-125 × 50-66 mm in size and weigh 140-270 grams. At this time, the female usually wraps herself up in eggs, preparing for the incubation period. The position of the loop controls humidity and heat. Incubation lasts from 2-3 months. The expectant mother very rarely leaves eggs during the incubation and does not eat food. As soon as eggs hatch, young ones quickly become independent.

Natural enemies of tiger pythons

Photo: Tiger Python

If tiger pythons feel danger, they hiss and crawl, trying to hide. Only cornered do they defend themselves with powerful, painful bites. Only a few of the snakes are quickly irritated and take extreme measures. There were rumors among locals that pythons attacked and killed unattended children. However, there is no serious evidence for this. Reliable deaths are known in the United States, where owners sometimes suffocate from the "hug" of a tiger python. The reason has always been careless handling and handling, which could trigger a hunting instinct in the animal.

Tiger Python has many enemies, especially in his youth.

These include:

Their favorite shelters are earthen caves, rock crevices, termite mounds, hollow tree trunks, mangroves and tall grass. In addition to animals, humans are the main predator of the tiger python. There is a large export volume for animal trade. The skin of Indian pythons is highly regarded in the fashion industry for its exotic look.

In its native range, it is also hunted as a food source. For centuries, tiger python meat was eaten in many Asian countries, and eggs were considered a delicacy. In addition, the insides of the animal are important for traditional Chinese medicine. The leather industry is a sector that cannot be underestimated in some Asian countries where professional hunters, tanners and traders work. Even for farmers, this is an additional income.

Population and species status

Photo: Snake Tiger Python

The commercial exploitation of tiger python for the leather industry has led to a significant reduction in the population in many countries of its range. In India and Bangladesh, the tiger python around 1900 was widespread. Excessive hunting followed for more than half a century: up to 15,000 hides were annually exported from India to Japan, Europe and the United States. In most areas, this led to a massive reduction in the number of individuals, and in many places even to complete extinction.

In 1977, export from India was prohibited by law. However, illegal trade continues today. Now tiger python is rarely found in India outside the protected areas. In Bangladesh, the range is limited to several areas in the southeast. In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, tiger python is still widespread. However, the use of these species for the leather industry has increased significantly. In 1985, it peaked at 189,068 hides officially exported from these countries.

International trade in live tiger pythons also peaked at 25,000 animals. In 1985, a trade restriction was introduced in Thailand to protect tiger pythons, which means that only 20,000 hides could be exported annually. In 1990, the skins of tiger pythons from Thailand were on average only 2 meters in length, which is a clear sign that the number of reproductive animals has been massively destroyed. In Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, the leather industry is still involved in the ongoing decline in python numbers.

Tiger python conservation

Photo: Red Book Tiger Python

Extensive deforestation, forest fires and soil erosion are a problem in the habitats of tiger pythons. Growing cities and expansion of agricultural land limits the habitat of the species more and more. This leads to a reduction, isolation and, ultimately, to the elimination of certain groups of the animal. Habitat losses in Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka are mainly responsible for the reduction of tiger python.

That is why this snake in Pakistan was declared endangered in 1990. Also in Nepal, the snake is threatened with extinction and lives only in Chitwanchastko National Park. In Sri Lanka, the habitat of the python is increasingly limited to the pristine jungle.

Interesting fact: Since June 14, 1976, P. molurus bivitatus has been listed in the United States by ESA as being at risk throughout its range. The subspecies P. molurus molurus is listed as endangered in CITES Appendix I. Another subspecies is listed in Appendix II, like all other types of pythons.

The directly endangered light tiger python is included in Appendix I of the Washington Convention for the Protection of Species and is not subject to trade. Wild Dark Tiger python populations are considered vulnerable, listed in Appendix II, and are subject to export restrictions. The Burmese tiger python is listed as protected by IUCN as being at risk due to fishing and habitat destruction.

Relationship with people

In ancient times, tiger pythons played an important role in Indian culture. Snakes were caught at a young age and were grown in temples in sturdy baskets. Due to constant contact with people, they gradually became less aggressive. After special training, reptiles were ready to participate in ritual dances with priestesses.

Later, tiger pythons began to be kept as pets in many Indian principalities. They lived in princely chambers and served as incorruptible guards, attacking anyone who tried to enter the restricted area.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, snake charmers and fakirs used them for their performances. In modern India, their possession in private ownership is prohibited. Killing a tiger python is punishable by a heavy fine or imprisonment for up to 6 years.

In the past 20 years, these reptiles have been bred on specialized farms in Southeast Asia. Their meat from Vietnam is already being supplied to the European Union.

In the Middle Ages, a royal collection of wild and dangerous animals was opened in the Tower of London, among them were tiger pythons from India and Sri Lanka. In the XIX century, they were already in most European zoos, and also participated in circus and pop shows.

Spread

The habitat covers Indochina and the Indian subcontinent. There are 3 subspecies. The nominative subspecies is distinguished by a lighter color. It is distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and in southeast Pakistan.

The darker subspecies of Python molurus bivittatus is found in Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, South China, Indonesia, and the Malay Peninsula. In the north-east of India, the west of Bhutan, the south-west of Bangladesh and the north-west of Burma, the ranges of the two subspecies intersect.

Ceylon tiger python (Python molurus pimbura) is the smallest subspecies and endemic of Sri Lanka. Under natural conditions, it does not occur outside the island. Due to its relatively small size, it is most often kept at home.

In 1979, dark tiger pythons were introduced to the Everglades National Park in the US state of Florida, where they successfully acclimatized and multiplied.

Behavior

Reptiles live mainly in tropical and subtropical forests. Much less often they are observed in shrubbery and on peasant fields. Snakes for their place of residence choose sites located near ponds.

They lead a land-based lifestyle, at a young age they can crawl onto trees. Sometimes they are observed in the upper tiers of the forest. Near rivers and lakes, reptiles spend most of their time in water. They swim well and move in the aquatic environment much faster than on a solid surface.

Tiger pythons during swimming leave only the tip of the muzzle with nostrils above the water. They often dive and are able to hold their breath for up to half an hour. Reptiles are adapted to exist in freshwater and mixed bodies of water, sorties in the open sea are strictly avoided.

As shelters, underground burrows, crevices of rocks, termite mounds, tree hollows, mangroves and thickets of tall grass are used.

Activity is manifested in the evening and at night at an ambient temperature of 20 ° -30 ° C. In regions with a cool climate and in winter, reptiles at noon take sun baths, which last up to 6 hours.

In northern Pakistan, India, and Burma, animals hibernate from December to February. They gather in groups and winter together under stones, tree roots or in underground shelters under a thick layer of fallen leaves.

Under adverse conditions, the tiger python can migrate to other territories. In one day, adults are able to overcome distances of up to 2.3 km by land. They are not territorial and, as a rule, do not show aggression towards their fellow tribesmen. In one shelter can be several animals at the same time.

Description

The average length, depending on the region, is 200-400 cm. Weight 35-56 kg. Females are significantly larger and heavier than males. Mature individuals have a powerful physique, while young individuals are thin and slender. The large triangular head is noticeably separated from the body.

The main background color is light brown or brown with a dark brown pattern resembling the Latin letter Y. There are also albinos and yellow specimens, but they rarely survive in the wild due to the lack of camouflage.

The abdomen is cream colored. Between the nose, eyes and corners of the mouth are brown stripes characteristic of this species.

The eyes set on the sides of the head provide an overview of about 140 °. Vision is relatively poorly developed, the search for the victim is carried out using the sense of smell, temperature receptors and Jacobson's organ.

The life span of a tiger python is about 30 years.

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