The reticulated python is easily recognized by its unmarked head and sheer size. It is the longest snake in the world. It is a strict carnivore, and kills most effectively by waiting in trees to ambush unsuspecting victims. It tends not to hunt actively, preferring to conserve its energy. It will usually eat birds and small mammals, as well as deer and pigs. Like all reptiles, it has a low metabolic rate and can go for long periods without eating. A captive python once refused food for twenty-three months, and then resumed normal feeding.
The reticulated python has a striking net-like pattern of markings, made up of darker triangular shapes along its sides, and patterns of yellow or cream running down its back. The head is largely unmarked, apart from a thin black stripe running across the top.
The beauty of the world's longest snake is matched by its strength and power. The reticulated python gets its name from its distinctive skin markings.
Reticulated pythons are strong swimmers, although they prefer to spend most of their time on land, hiding in trees. They are nocturnal, and usually breed during the winter months. Large eggs are laid in hollow trees or burrows, then the female coils around them and shivers to keep the eggs warm. Once the baby snakes are hatched, however, they are left to fend for themselves.
Distribution: South-east Asia.
Habitat: Tropical rainforest.
Food: Mainly mammals.
Size: 6 - 10 m (20 - 33 ft); up to 200 kg (440 lb).
Maturity: 2-4 years.
Breeding: 25 - 80 eggs.
Life span: 30 years.