Pythonidae – Pythons

Good old pythons might not lurk around much longer

A family of non-venomous snakes thriving across Africa, Asia, and Australia includes some of the world’s most iconic and formidable serpents. From the colossal Reticulated Python, capable of reaching lengths of up to 9 meters (30 feet), to the diminutive Anthill Python, measuring a mere 61 centimeters (2 feet), the family exhibits an impressive range in size.

Interestingly, pythons are referred to as “old-world” snakes due to their absence from North and South America, distinguishing them from their “new-world” counterparts. Beyond their geographical distribution, pythons are considered primitive snakes, retaining certain ancestral features that set them apart from other modern snakes. Notably, pythons possess vestigial remnants of hind limbs, represented by paired spurs near their pelvis, a remnant of their legged ancestors. Additionally, pythons possess two lungs, a characteristic distinct from the single lung found in most other snake species.

Recognizing a python is relatively straightforward, thanks to its distinctive features. These snakes typically have a triangular head adorned with heat-sensitive pits on the sides, enabling them to detect prey and navigate their environment effectively. Their bodies are adorned with dark brown or black blotches, providing effective camouflage in their natural habitats.

Despite their formidable presence, pythons face significant conservation challenges, primarily from habitat loss and hunting pressures. As human populations expand and encroach upon natural habitats, pythons are increasingly subjected to habitat degradation and fragmentation, threatening their survival. Additionally, hunters target pythons for their skins, meat, and use in traditional medicine, further exacerbating population declines.