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What is an Olive Python?

Jacob Queen
Jacob Queen

The olive python, also known by the scientific name liasis olivaceus, is a large constricting snake from the country of Australia. They can potentially grow to between 11 and 13 feet (3.5 to 4 meters) long, which makes them one of the largest snake species in Australia. In terms of coloration, they vary from an olive green color to more of a brownish shade, and they have a light colored underside. In some cases they can live to be about 20 years old; they are sometimes kept as pets, but the population in the wild has been stressed due to hunting.

Olive pythons primarily live in the northern part of Australia. They like to hide in rocky crevices, and they generally stay fairly close to fresh water sources if possible. Sometimes the snakes will take over abandoned nests of various burrowing mammal species, and they have also been known to hide under rocks or inside fallen dead trees.

These snakes are generally much more active at night. They often hunt prey by striking up from beneath water. Like other pythons, the olive python is not poisonous, so it relies on the power of its bite along with constriction to kill prey.


The snakes mainly hunt smaller reptiles and various bird species, but they occasionally take larger animals, such as wallabies, as well. They have a great ability to swallow different kinds of prey whole, and are often able to easily eat animals that are much larger than themselves. When eating, they generally swallow things head first.

Olive pythons normally lay a clutch with between 10 and 40 eggs, with the average clutch being about 25. Once the young snakes are born, they are on their own and must fend for themselves. When they hatch, the infant snakes are only about 13 inches (33 cm) long.

The olive python has long been targeted by hunters for its skin. They have significantly smaller scales than the average snake, which makes the skin seem especially smooth, making it more desirable for hunters. The large number of olive python snakes in captivity has helped keep them from being listed as an endangered species, but some experts think the wild population could actually be in danger of extinction. These snakes have no venom, but they do have sharp teeth and a strong bite, so they can deliver a fairly painful wound if they feel threatened.

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Discussion Comments


@Scrbblehick -- I remember that story! I saw a news clip of the woman on the national news!

People keep those big snakes and have not a clue as to how to handle them. I think the snake in this story was 9 or 10 feet long. That's not a pet.

I've heard of olive pythons being harvested for the pet industry, but I don't know where they are popular. I've never known anyone who had one. But the fact remains that they are not domestic animals. They're not pets. It's like someone taking in a lion or a wolf to raise. You might get lucky and it will be docile its whole life, or you might not be so lucky. I'd rather not risk it, myself.


I knew Australia had plenty of venomous snakes, but didn't know they had an indigenous python. Very interesting!

Actually, most pythons have pretty impressive teeth, venomous or not. They can deliver a nasty bite, and because the curvature of their fangs is intended to hold prey while they constrict it, it can be difficult to get them to let go!

There was a story in the Los Angeles newspaper several years ago about the family python that escaped its enclosure and crawled into bed with the wife, who was also pregnant. I'm not sure what triggered the attack, but the snake did attack the woman, and bit her buttocks, then started squeezing. The husband got one of the kids to call 911 while he unwrapped the tail, but the snake would not (or could not) release the woman.

When the police and EMTs got there, one of the officers had to cut the snake's head off to get it off the woman. She and the baby were fine. I'd still be having nightmares, and she may be too.

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