What is an Amethystine Python?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

The amethystine python is considered one of the larger snakes in existence, and in extreme cases, it can reach a length of about 27 feet (8.2 meters). A more common length is about 16 feet (8.5 meters) with a body type that is considered much more slender than most other snakes in this size range. In terms of color, the snake is yellow or orange with black rings creating a camouflage pattern, and there is a shine to the skin that creates a purple glow if the light hits it the right way. The amethystine python is commonly found in New Guinea, Indonesia, and Australia.

These snakes prefer to live in rain forests if possible. They are commonly found near water, and they are capable of swimming. There have been cases where they have escaped from captivity and been forced to survive in other areas. In these situations, they have proven generally adaptable to a wide range of environments. The animals are not currently threatened from an ecological perspective.

The amethystine python kills its prey by constricting. This process is not a case of brute force squeezing and crushing the animal’s bones. Rather, the snakes wait for the animals to exhale and then squeeze a little tighter, gradually cutting off the preys' ability to expand when breathing in. Eventually, the prey animal will suffocate, and then the snake is safe to swallow it.

When hunting, the amethystine python relies on stealth and surprise. These snakes generally wait patiently for animals to wander too close to them. This is often done at night, because the amethystine python has an especially strong ability to detect prey in the dark, and this gives it an advantage over the animals it hunts, which are often relatively blind at night. The skills that make them so deft in this area are an especially strong sense of smell and an ability to detect heat from living things as they come near.

In terms of breeding, the amethystine python lays eggs, and a typical clutch is in the range of 15 to 25. They stay with the eggs to keep them warm until they hatch, which generally takes about four weeks. The snakes themselves don’t actually produce warmth normally, but when they use their muscles, the process of muscle movement can produce a certain amount of heat. For this reason, the snakes have adapted to shiver while they incubate the eggs, which produces a constant low-level warmth. Once they're born, the young snakes are forced to fend for themselves.

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