Carpet pythons are extremely variable in colour and pattern. Most specimens are olive green, with pale, dark-edged blotches, stripes or cross-bands. The juveniles are similarly patterned, but often in shades of brown rather than olive green. A row of deep pits can be seen along the lower jaw and many small scales are present on the top of the head. This species can grow to more than 3 m in length. Pictured above is a Murray Darling Python.
Habitat and Range
This species is widespread and found throughout northern, eastern and southern Australia. Lives in open forests, rainforests, coastal heaths, rural lands, park lands and suburban gardens. This snake is active both day and night and can be encountered on the ground, in trees or buildings (particularly chicken pens, barns and attics).
Feeds on frogs, lizards, birds, mammals. Cane Toads are sometime taken as prey with fatal consequences for the snake.
10–47 eggs are laid in early summer. The eggs are concealed in a sheltered site (beneath building materials, between hay bales, hollow stump or a depression in ground) and are incubated by the female who will `shiver’ to generate heat. The female leaves the nest to bask in the morning sun and returns to her eggs in a pre-heated condition. Nesting females will defend their eggs. The hatchling snakes measure around 39 cm from the snout to the base of the tail (snout-vent length).
This species is non-venomous, but tetanus protection is recommended following bites.
Carpet pythons are extremely diverse in appearance and seven geographical races or subspecies are recognised:
Morelia spilota spilota – eastern New South Wales and north-eastern Victoria;
M. s. bredli – central Australia;
M. s. mcdowelli – north-eastern New South Wales and eastern Queensland;
M. s. cheynei – Wet Tropics area of north-eastern Queensland;
M. s. metcalfei – Murray/Darling drainage (pictured above);
M. s. imbricata – southern Western Australia;
M. s. variegata – northern Northern Territory and Western Australia.
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Text © The State of Queensland (Queensland Museum)
Image © Jona Photography