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"Diamond Python"

Diamond Python. (2008, October 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:23, January 2, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Diamond_Python&oldid=246735100

Morelia spilota spilota is a subspecies of the "Carpet and Diamond pythons" (Morelia spilota), informally known as the Diamond python. It is a medium to large snake, found in coastal regions of southeastern Australia, that occurs at the highest altitude of any the Pythonidae.

Variable in colour and patterning, it typically has a dark olive to black background with yellow (or cream) and black blotches that form diamond-like patterns. The underside is pale in colour. The subspecies is between 2 - 3 metres, sometimes reaching a length of 4 metres. They are oviparous snakes, the eggs are incubated and defended by the female coiling around them. The python will not leave to eat during this time, and will 'shiver' or lift the eggs to regulate their temperature. Maternal care does not continue once the young have emerged. Juveniles resemble other Morelia spilota, but differentiate in their appearance as they mature.[2][3]

The subspecies is found in southern coastal regions of New South Wales and Victoria, in scrubland, bushland and the undisturbed forests of National Parks.[3] It occurs in a variety of habitat; including heaths, woodland, and urban areas. It is known to occupy the roof space of suburban homes, living on mice and rats.[4] It has a limited distribution range in Victoria, where it is regarded as rare and threatened by reduction in available habitat. Morelia spilota variegata is the only other related python in the state, and is recorded as hybridising with this subspecies in its northern range. Morelia spilota spilota occurs at a higher altitude, in the eastern Gippsland, than any other member of the Pythonidae family.[2] It is found inland from the coast, but has the most southern distribution of the Australian subspecies.[2] Few populations are recorded in the state and changes in land use have this subspecies listed as threatened with extinction.[2] They are also known to occur in rocky habitat during winter months.[5]

These pythons are ambush predators with large territories that often overlap. They move around these seasonally to occupy well camouflaged positions or hibernate in winter months. The females have a range of up to 50 ha, the males may be twice as large an area. They are usually active during the day, or on warmer nights, but are usually motionless and waiting in ambush. They typically remain in one position for up to 2 weeks, before moving to another around 100 metres away.[2] Morelia spilota spilota kill their food by constricting and suffocating it, and will prey on lizards or mammals as large as possums. They are not a danger to humans, but are capable of biting and leaving teeth in the wound.[3]

It is the nominate subspecies for Morelia spilota, a species first described by Lacépède.[6][7]

The Diamond python is kept in captivity by collectors in Australia and around the world. The capture of wild specimens is illegal, however the subspecies has been successfully bred to supply the demand for this popular reptile. They are fed on a diet of rats, after initially receiving young (pink) mice, and kept in controlled environments such as a vivarium.[8]

Diamond Python. (2008, October 21). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:23, January 2, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Diamond_Python&oldid=246735100

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