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What is an Indian Python?

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  • Written By: Erica Stratton
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Images By: Matthew Cole, n/a
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2016
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The Indian python—Latin name Python molurus molurus—is a type of large snake native to Asia. It is a subspecies of the Burmese python. Like many members of the python family, Indian pythons are renowned for their swallowing ability. They are considered a species on the borderline of being officially endangered.

An Indian python can be identified by its coloration, which consists of dramatic dark brown spots on a beige background. The spots are edged in black. An Indian python will also have a tan, V-shaped marking on its head.

A python has very poor eyesight. To locate its prey, it relies on two "heat pits" located on its head, which gauge the difference between the surrounding temperatures and a warm body. Pythons seldom move in order to conserve energy, but once they have discovered signs of prey, they will stalk it by following its heat trail.

Size-wise, an Indian python can grow to be up to 9-feet-long (2.74 m). Like all pythons, it feeds on small reptiles, birds and mammals, suffocating them in its coils before swallowing them whole. It can also swim and is adept at climbing trees.

Despite these fearsome qualities, there are no definite reports of an Indian python attacking and swallowing a human. Legends and rumors still persist. Though they are hunted for their skin, Indian pythons are also killed out of fear when they are seen too close to human habitation.

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In some countries, hunting the python has become outlawed out of the fear it will become extinct. Poaching still continues, because hunting the Indian python is good for local economies. Besides selling its hide to make fashionable purses and boots, python blood is considered a holistic cure.

Indian pythons are distinguished from other types of pythons in one other way: the length of their cloacal spurs. These are two "vestigial limbs" located on either side of the snake's anus. They are the most prominent in males and are used to massage and otherwise pleasure the female during courtship.

When mating, the male python will rub up against a female and flick his tongue all over her. Then, holding her with his cloacal spurs, he will insert one of his two penises. Five to 30 minutes later, the mating will be finished.

Three to four months later, the female python will lay up to 100 7-oz. eggs. Curling around them for warmth, the female python will "shiver" to raise her body temperature to incubate the eggs. She'll guard the eggs for several months, but once they hatch, the baby pythons will be able to fend for themselves almost immediately.

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