The diamond python is a popular, non-venomous snake among collectors and is prized for its beautiful markings. Colors can vary from black and white to gold, olive, tan, or cream. Native to Australia, Indonesia, and New Guinea, the diamond python is a mostly nocturnal snake that lives in a variety of habitats, from forests to populated areas, preferring to spend its time in trees, on roofs, or in rafters. Its scientific name is Morelia spilota spilota, and it is related to carpet python.
The markings of the diamond python are highly variable. Collectors prefer the diamonds to be small, colorful, and not connected to other diamonds. The adult male diamond python reaches a length of 5.5 to 6 feet (1.7 to 1.8 meters) while the larger female can reach 6.5 to 7 feet (1.9 to 2.1 meters).
Like other pythons, the diamond python constricts and suffocates its prey, preferring small mammals, reptiles, and bats. Unlike other pythons, diamond pythons do not need to eat very often and should feed once every seven to 10 days. Overfeeding can lead to obesity and greatly shorten the lifespan.
Diamond pythons are very active animals that should be encouraged to exercise in captivity. Cages should be quite large, ideally 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.4 meters) long, with enough height to provide branches for climbing and exercise. They also require large hide boxes and an ultraviolet light to provide a source of vitamin D.
For three-quarters of the year, diamond pythons do well in temperatures ranging from 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (27 to 30 degrees Celsius) during the day. Night time temperatures should be around 75 to 79 degrees Fahrenheit (24 to 26 degrees Celsius). Hibernation periods are crucial to the health of the diamond python and essential for breeding.
In the winter, diamond pythons in captivity should have the last feeding several weeks before hibernation begins to allow the digestive system to empty. Australian winter temperatures are about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 16 degrees Celsius). In captivity, the diamond python habitat should be cooled to this temperature to allow it to enter hibernation for several months.
Female diamond pythons breed once every three years. Multiple males will follow females during breeding season. Rather than fighting other males, they wait patiently for the chance to mate with her. Female diamond pythons lay 10 to 20 or more eggs and will coil around the clutch during the incubation period.
Capturing wild diamond pythons for captivity is illegal. Breeding has ensured a sufficient population of captive diamond pythons. Although diamond pythons are not considered endangered, some habitats are shrinking yearly.