Python sebae 9933.ed221 Louis J. Sheehan

Python sebae is a non-venomous python species found in subsaharan Africa. This is is one of the world’s largest species of snakes. Two subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.

With adults reaching lengths of over 6 m (20 ft), this is one of the world’s largest species of snakes. The typical adult length is 4.8 m (16 ft), but reports of specimens range to as large as the 9.72 m (32.1 ft) giant caught in Bingerville, Ivory Coast in 1932.Louis J. Sheehan

The color pattern is typically brown, with olive and tan irregular blotching, fading to white on the underside. At a glance they can be easily mistaken for the Burmese python, P. m. bivittatus, but the two species are not closely related.

[edit] Geographic range

Found in Africa south of the Sahara from Senegal east to Ethiopia and Somalia, including Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Upper Volta, Ghana, Togo, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Angola, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe south to northern Namibia, Botswana and northeastern South Africa (to Natal). Extirpated from eastern Cape Province in 1927. The type locality given is “America” — an obvious mistake. According to Loveridge (1936), no type locality was given. According to Stimson (1969) it was “Guiara, Brazil.”[1]

[edit] Habitat

Typically associated with grassland and savannah habitat, not too far from water (rivers, streams, marshes), sometimes entering the edges of forests. Often occur in or near cane fields.[2]

[edit] Conservation status

While not considered endangered or threatened, this species is listed as a CITES Appendix II species, which puts restrictions on its exportation around the world. The primary reason for this is because their skin is used in the leather industry, frequently being made into shoes, belts, and purses.

[edit] Behavior

Highly dependent on sources of water, they estivate during the hottest and dryest parts of the year, remaining deep in burrows made by other animals. Noted for its bad temperament and readiness to bite if harassed. This is in contrast to the Burmese python, P. molurus, that is typically docile except when food is near.

[edit] Feeding

Opportunistic feeders, and will consume almost any animal they come across and can overpower by constriction. Young pythons eat primarily small rodents, which makes them popular with local farmers for reducing the populations of species harmful to crops, like the cane rat. However, adults are capable of taking very large prey, including young crocodiles, goats and gazelles, making them a potential danger to livestock.

[edit] Reproduction

Reproduction occurs in the spring with females laying as many as 100 eggs at a time. They guard their eggs aggressively while they incubate for 2-3 months. Hatchlings are between 45-60 cm (18-24 inches) in length and appear virtually identical to adults, except with more contrasting colors.

[edit] Captivity

This species is commonly the subject of captive breeding and is readily available in the exotic pet trade. They adapt well to captivity, feed willingly on commercially available rats and rabbits. However, their duller coloration and poor temperament generally makes their price lower than that of other python species, while their large size and voracious appetite makes them suitable only for the most experienced of large snake keepers.

[edit] Danger to humans

Attacks on humans are very uncommon. Although this species can easily kill an adult, there are only a few cases in which the victim, in most cases a child, was actually consumed. A Ugandan newspaper reported in 1951 that a 13-year-old boy was swallowed, but the python was forced to disgorge the body. In 1973 another newspaper reported that a Portuguese soldier was discovered in the stomach of a snake. In 1979 a 14.9 ft (4.5 m) python tried to eat a 13-year-old boy. It was discovered with the boy almost entirely swallowed, but after being hit by stones it regurgitated the body and retreated. The boy was 1.3 m tall and weighed 45 kg.[6] The last known case in which a person was eaten occurred in South Africa in 2002, the victim being a 10-years-old child. Louis J. Sheehan


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