Scientific Name: Python bivittatus
IUCN Red List Status: Vulnerable
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
The Burmese python occurs throughout Southern and Southeast Asia, including eastern India, southeastern Nepal, western Bhutan, southeastern Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, northern continental Malaysia, and in southern China in Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi, and Yunnan. It also occurs in Hong Kong, and in Indonesia on Java, southern Sulawesi, Bali, and Sumbawa. It has also been reported on Kinmen. It is an excellent swimmer and needs a permanent source of water. It lives in grasslands, marshes, swamps, rocky foothills, woodlands, river valleys, and jungles with open clearings. It is a good climber and has a prehensile tail. There are natural predators of the Burmese python, like the tiger and the King cobra.
Python invasion has been particularly extensive, notably across South Florida, where a large number of pythons can now be found in the Florida Everglades. Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was deemed responsible for the destruction of a python-breeding facility and zoo, and these escaped snakes spread and populated areas into the Everglades. Also, between 1996 and 2006, the Burmese python gained popularity in the pet trade, with more than 90,000 snakes imported into the US. By 2007, the Burmese python was found in northern Florida and in the coastal areas of the Florida Panhandle. The importation of Burmese pythons was banned in the United States in January 2012 by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Burmese pythons are mainly nocturnal rainforest dwellers. When young, they are equally at home on the ground and in trees, but as they gain girth, they tend to restrict most of their movements to the ground. They are also excellent swimmers, being able to stay submerged for up to half an hour. Burmese pythons spend the majority of their time hidden in the underbrush. They tend to be a solitary species and are usually found in pairs only when mating.
Its diet consists primarily of appropriately sized birds and mammals. The snake uses its sharp, rearward-pointing teeth to seize its prey, then wraps its body around the prey, at the same time contracting its muscles, killing the prey by constriction. In captivity, its diet consists primarily of commercially available, appropriately sized rats, graduating to larger prey such as rabbits and poultry as it grows. Exceptionally large pythons may even require larger food items such as pigs or goats, and are known to have attacked and eaten alligators and adult deer in Florida.
Wild populations are considered to be "threatened" and are listed on Appendix II of CITES. All the giant pythons (including the Indian python, the African rock python, and the reticulated python) have historically been slaughtered to supply the world leather market, as well as for folk medicines, and captured for the pet trade. Some are also killed for food, particularly in China. The IUCN has listed the Burmese python as "vulnerable",
reflecting its overall population decline. Important reasons for the
decline are trade for skins and for food; habitat degradation may be a
problem in some upland areas. In Hong Kong, it is a protected species under Wild Animals Protection Ordinance Cap 170.