Pythonidae Indian python, Python molurus Scientific classification Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Subphylum: Vertebrata Class: Reptilia Order: Squamata Suborder: Serpentes Infraorder: Alethinophidia Family: Pythonidae
- Pythonoidea - Fitzinger, 1826
- Pythonoidei - Eichwald, 1831
- Holodonta - Müller, 1832
- Pythonina - Bonaparte, 1840
- Pythophes - Fitzinger, 1843
- Pythoniens - A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1844
- Holodontes - A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1844
- Pythonides - A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1844
- Pythones - Cope, 1861
- Pythonidae - Cope, 1864
- Peropodes - Meyer, 1874
- Chondropythonina - Boulenger, 1879
- Pythoninae - Boulenger, 1890
- Pythonini - Underwood & Stimson, 1990
- Moreliini - Underwood & Stimson, 1990
The Pythonidae, commonly known simply as pythons, from the Greek word python-πυθων, are a family of non-venomous snakes found in Africa, Asia and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes in the world. Eight genera and 26 species are currently recognized.
Many species have been hunted aggressively, which has decimated some, such as the Indian python, Python molurus.
Most members of this family are ambush predators, in that they typically remain motionless in a camouflaged position and then strike suddenly at passing prey. They will generally not attack humans unless startled or provoked, although females protecting their eggs can be aggressive. Reports of attacks on human beings were once more common in South and Southeast Asia, but are now quite rare.
Prey is killed by a process known as constriction; after an animal has been grasped to restrain it, a number of coils are hastily wrapped around it. Then, by applying and maintaining sufficient pressure to prevent it from inhaling, the prey eventually succumbs due to asphyxiation. It has recently been suggested that the pressures produced during constriction cause cardiac arrest by interfering with blood flow, but this hypothesis has not yet been confirmed.
Larger specimens usually eat animals about the size of a house cat, but larger food items are known: some large Asian species have been known to take down adult deer, and the African rock python, Python sebae, has been known to eat antelope. Prey is swallowed whole, and may take anywhere from several days or even weeks to fully digest.
Contrary to popular belief, even the larger species, such as the reticulated python, P. reticulatus, do not crush their prey to death; in fact, prey is not even noticeably deformed before it is swallowed. The speed with which the coils are applied is impressive and the force they exert may be significant, but death is caused by suffocation, with the victim not being able to move its ribs to breathe while it is being constricted.
Females lay eggs (oviparous). This sets them apart from the family Boidae (boas), most of which bear live young (ovoviviparous). After they lay their eggs, females will typically incubate them until they hatch. This is achieved by causing the muscles to "shiver", which raises the temperature of the body to a certain degree, and thus that of the eggs. Keeping the eggs at a constant temperature is essential for healthy embryo development. During the incubation period, females will not eat and only leave to bask to raise their body temperature.
Most species in this family are available in the exotic pet trade. However, caution must be exercised with the larger species as they can be dangerous; cases of large specimens killing their owners have been documented.
Genus Taxon author Species Subsp.* Common name Geographic range Antaresia Wells & Wellington, 1984 4 0 Australia in arid and tropical regions. Apodora Kluge, 1993 1 0 Papuan python Most of New Guinea, from Misool to Fergusson Island. Aspidites Peters, 1877 2 0 Australia except in the south of the country. Bothrochilus Fitzinger, 1843 1 0 Bismark ringed python The islands of the Bismark Archipelago, including Umboi, New Britain, Gasmata (off the southern coast), Duke of York and nearby Mioko, New Ireland and nearby Tatau (off the east coast), the New Hanover Islands and Nissan Island. Leiopython Hubrecht, 1879 1 0 D'Albert's water python Most of New Guinea (below 1200 m), including the islands of Salawati and Biak, Normanby, Mussau, as well as a few islands in the Torres Strait. Liasis Gray, 1842 3 2 Indonesia in the Lesser Sunda Islands, east through New Guinea and in northern and western Australia. Morelia Gray, 1842 7 5 From Indonesia in the Maluku Islands, east through New Guinea, including the Bismark Archipelago and in Australia. PythonT Daudin, 1803 7 4 Pythons Africa in the tropics south of the Sahara (not including southern and extreme southwestern Madagascar), Bangladesh, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, the Nicobar Islands, Myanmar, Indochina, southern China, Hong Kong, Hainan, the Malayan region of Indonesia and the Philippines.
Green tree python,
Borneo short-tailed python,
Python curtus breitensteini
- List of pythonid species and subspecies
- Pythonidae by common name
- Pythonidae by taxonomic synonyms
- List of snakes, overview of all snake families and genera.
- Python (mythology), the oracular serpent of Delphi
- ^ a b c d e McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
- ^ a b c d e "Pythonidae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=563893. Retrieved 15 September 2007.
- ^ Huge, Freed Pet Pythons Invade Florida Everglades at http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/ National Geographic News. Accessed 16 September 2007.
- ^ Hardy, David L. (1994). A re-evaluation of suffocation as the cause of death during constriction by snakes. Herpetological Review 229: 45-47.
- ^ Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
- ^ Stidworthy J. 1974. Snakes of the World. Grosset & Dunlap Inc. 160 pp. ISBN 0-448-11856-4.
- ^ Carr A. 1963. The Reptiles. Life Nature Library. Time-Life Books, New York. 192 pp. LCCCN 63-12781.
- ^ The Keeping of Large Pythons at Anapsid. Accessed 16 September 2007.
- Boidae at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 3 November 2008.
- Pythons (Pythonidae) at Answers.com. Accessed 3 November 2008.
Snake families Alethinophidia Scolecophidia
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