The spotted python is a member of the Antaresia genus of snakes, and bears the scientific name Antaresia maculosa. A native of Australia, it is found in the rocky, coastal Queensland regions and has also been brought into the home, where it thrives as a pet because it is one of the easiest snakes to keep in captivity. Characterized by pale background scales spotted with uneven blotches of black or dark brown that can be separate or connected by a dorsal stripe, spotted pythons can reach mature lengths of up to 4 feet (1.2 m) and can weigh up to 3 pounds (1.3 kg). They are close relatives of the anthill python, the Children's python, and Stimson's python.
In its native environment, the spotted python can be found along the eastern edge of Australia from Cape York into New South Wales. It has also been found inhabiting several islands off the coast of Queensland. Well adapted to a variety of different kinds of terrain, it inhabits regions from rain forests and grasslands to open, rocky shores. An excellent hunter, it preys on small creatures such as mice, rats, and lizards, and can even catch flying animals, from bats to birds. The spotted python has been known to wait at the entrances of caves that house bats, and to strike as the bats leave the cave to hunt.
The reproductive cycle of the wild spotted python begins in April when the females lay their eggs. They will remain with the nest of six to 18 eggs, incubating them for two to three months. Once the eggs hatch, the female will leave the hatchlings to fend for themselves.
Just as they are easy to keep in captivity, spotted pythons are also easy to breed in captivity, with no special conditions or temperatures required to start the reproductive cycle. When kept as a pet, the spotted python can be perfectly at home in a minimum enclosure equal to a 20-gallon fish tank. These warm-weather natives thrive in daytime temperatures of about 86°F (29 °C) and nighttime temperatures of 80°F (26 °C), with a heat lamp to provide an optional warmer spot. Basic requirements, like constant access to fresh water, a place to hide, as well as branches, platforms, and rocks to climb on, are all the spotted python needs. Captive spotted pythons can easily survive on a constant diet of feeder mice, with feedings as far apart as once a week.