Burmese Python (Python Bivittatus)

Ali's Animal Answers > Posts > Reptiles > Snakes > Burmese Python (Python Bivittatus)

This post is continuing the series by Chantelle’s Reptiles – to check out my first post about the Nile Monitor, please follow the click link to the right.

The Burmese python is one of three largest snakes in the world; along with the anaconda and reticulated python. They can reach lengths of 12-18+ ft and weigh in at over 15 kg, some exceeding 20 kg – having a girth as thick as a telephone pole! It is native to Southeast Asia, but is found as an invasive species in Florida; where it has been classed as an invasive species since the end of the 20th century, due to how well they established and over populated.

They became invasive in Florida due to a couple of reasons; one reason being irresponsible pet owners – who, once their pet Burmese pythons got too big or they didn’t want to keep them anymore, they would release them into the wild. The Everglades in Florida suit their needs perfectly, and so they thrived there! Possibly the main reason for their invasive state is due to natural changes in their environment/ecosystem; hurricanes and other natural disasters caused facility’s, and other places housing these snakes, to be severely damaged, causing the release of the animals. They are becoming a real problem and are causing natural wildlife to hit a massive downfall by preying on them, this unfortunately has lead to the many deaths of these snakes as people catch them and kill them in order to stop them from repopulating. The Burmese python is not the only invasive reptile in Florida either – reticulated pythons, tegu lizards and some species of iguana have also invaded Florida!

The Burmese python is one of three largest snakes in the world; along with the anaconda and reticulated python. They can reach lengths of 12-18+ ft and weigh in at over 15 kg, some exceeding 20 kg – having a girth as thick as a telephone pole! It is native to Southeast Asia, but is found as an invasive species in Florida; where it has been classed as an invasive species since the end of the 20th century, due to how well they established and over populated.

They became invasive in Florida due to a couple of reasons; one reason being irresponsible pet owners – who, once their pet Burmese pythons got too big or they didn’t want to keep them anymore, they would release them into the wild. The Everglades in Florida suit their needs perfectly, and so they thrived there! Possibly the main reason for their invasive state is due to natural changes in their environment/ecosystem; hurricanes and other natural disasters caused facility’s, and other places housing these snakes, to be severely damaged, causing the release of the animals. They are becoming a real problem and are causing natural wildlife to hit a massive downfall by preying on them, this unfortunately has lead to the many deaths of these snakes as people catch them and kill them in order to stop them from repopulating. The Burmese python is not the only invasive reptile in Florida either – reticulated pythons, tegu lizards and some species of iguana have also invaded Florida!

In captivity Burmese pythons are one of the more popular snakes kept as pets and are found in pet shops all across the world. A baby Burmese python can be purchased for as low as £50. The low price often leads to inexperienced keepers buying them and not knowing what they’re in for, the tiny (30 cm ish) snake that was brought home, has the capability to reach 6 ft within one year! Burmese pythons in captivity can often be ‘power fed’; this is when the snakes are either fed too often or too much, in order to make them reach a certain size. This will not only shorten their lifespan massively, but it can also cause them to become very lazy animals – not lazy out of choice, but because they are so overweight that they can barely move theirT own body weight.

People choose to ‘power feed’ their animals to either have the biggest animal they possibly can or to increase the chances of producing more eggs from them when it comes to breeding. In my opinion there is absolutely no need to power feed an animal – if you truly love your pet, why would you do such a thing?! The needs of the snake are not being considered, but rather it is more along the lines of feeding the ego or selfish desire of the person, or simply to fill their pockets with money. Although, some individual Burmese pythons can be a lot larger than average, this isn’t all that common; the main reason behind these snakes being much larger than they should is due to how people keep them. Over-feeding is a very controversial topic with the reptile enthusiasts, but I believe that if you try to justify ‘power feeding’ your reptile, you shouldn’t own them. We have the wonderful opportunity of keeping these amazing animals at pets, we should therefore provide them with the best care that we possibly can.

Burmese pythons are a very popular pet, not only because their impressive size but because the majority of them have an amazing temperament; many people refer to them as the ‘puppies’ of the snake world because of this! Although they have good temperaments you should never underestimate their capabilities – a bite from an adult Burmese python could end up needing stitches! Just like sharks, Burmese pythons have multiple rows of teeth (four to be exact) with approximately 100 teeth that curve backwards in towards the mouth – backward facing teeth enable them to latch onto prey and stop them from escaping.

The Burmese python is a non-venomous species of snake, classified as a constrictor. After striking and catching their prey, holding on to their prey with their backward facing fangs, they wrap around them and constrict – crushing and suffocating their prey, squeezing tighter every time it takes an inward breath, until it is dead and can be consumed. In the wild, it is not uncommon to see a Burmese python taking down prey that is double the width of them! Usually feeding on small mammals and birds, they do sometimes opt for different prey… Photos can be seen of a Burmese python in Florida taking down and eating an American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) – it rarely happens, but these incredible predators have the capability of doing the same to a human! Which is another reason, if you decide to own one of these, that you need to take into serious consideration to understand what you’re getting yourself into!

All in all they are beautiful and fascinating creatures!

A note from Ali’s Answers: Always do research into an animal, before purchasing it as a pet; ensuring you have the means to provide a good level of care for it.

All images are either open source, Google images, or my own – or photos donated for use by the pet owners.

If you have any questions or comments; please post a comment below, or contact Ali’s Answers via one of the social media pages…
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Thoughts

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