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"African Rock Python"

African Rock Python. (2006, August 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:26, January 2, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=African_Rock_Python&oldid=69142635

Python sebae is a non-venomous python species found in subsaharan Africa. This is one of the world's largest species of snakes. Two subspecies are currently recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.[4]

First described by Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1788, its generic name Python is a Greek word Πύθων referring to the enormous serpent at Delphi slain by Apollo in Greek Mythology. Its specific name sebae is a Latinized form of Dutch zoologist,Albertus Seba's last name.[2]

With adults reaching lengths of over 6 m (20 ft), this is one of the world's largest species of snakes[2]. The typical adult length is 4.8 m (16 ft) and rumors of specimens over 20 feet are generally considered reliable, but larger specimens have never been confirmed[5].

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.

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]

Recently, the African rock python has been found in the Florida Everglades, and is feared to be establishing itself as an invasive species alongside the already-established Burmese Python.[6]

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]

While considered endangered and 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.

Highly dependent on sources of water, they estivate during the hottest and driest parts of the year, remaining deep in burrows made by other animals. This species is 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.

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, gazelles, warthogs and even humans making them potentially very dangerous.

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.

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.

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 completely entwined, but after being hit by stones it regurgitated the body and retreated. The boy was 1.3 m tall and weighed 45 kg.[7] On Easter weekend of 2009, Ben Nyaumbe a farmer was attacked after stepping on a specimen, and was dragged up a tree by the snake, but managed to escape after calling for help on his mobile phone.[8] The last known case in which a person was eaten occurred in South Africa in 2002, the victim being a 10-year-old child.[9]

African Rock Python. (2006, August 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:26, January 2, 2010, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=African_Rock_Python&oldid=69142635

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