Sunday, April 8, 2007

Python Snake

Snakes of the world – Part 7

Ball Python image courtsey:

Pythons - A wrestler on the hills.

Pythons are giant “constricting snakes” (snakes which twist around the prey and kill it by applying tremendous power breaking its bones as well as asphyxiating it) belonging to the family Boidae (Greek word “Puthon” is the name of a huge mythical serpent which was killed by Apollo after a legendary battle as told in the Greek mythology). Python with other members of the Boidae family are widely distributed in all tropical continents. Boas, Eryx, and Anacondas are related to pythons being members of a family. Python is grouped in the sub-family Pythoninae.

Up to the Google!

Pythons have gained the status of a pet now a days and it has become fashionable to carry them along with. A recent paper report (April 5,2007) regarding a pet python which went missing from its owner’s custody in the Google’s sprawling Manhattan office attracted a lot of interest. The 3 foot darling could be found only after frantic efforts by special search team which lasted two days. When found the python (Kaiser belonging to an employee) was just relaxing behind a cabinet not knowing about the fuzz that was going around. The employees had a merry time talking about the python at the expence of the company.

Python v/s Boa.

There are similarities as well as differences between Boas and Pythons since both shares the same family. The presence of a supra-orbital bone in the skull above the eye is the main difference between a Python and a Boa. Its anterior maxillary and mandibular teeth are long and well developed. Its eyes are provided with vertical pupil. The scales are smooth and consist of 60 to 75 rows. The head covered with large symmetrical shields and is distinct for the neck. Pythons are oviparous (lay eggs unlike Boas), the mother python hatches the eggs. (a special type of movement of abdomen generates slight heat for this purpose)

Big ancestors.

Fossils discovered from Egypt have revealed that once (in the Eocene era) there lived gigantic pythons (Gigantophis) with length exceeding 50 feet. Pythons have their hind-limbs although in a reduced form a vestigial organ) which it uses when engaged in fights

Just can’t leave the limbs!

(Snakes evolved from reptiles and in this process they lost their limbs but pythons and Boas have not fully discarded their hind-limbs fully even if they are no use in locomotion). Pythons are non-poisonous but they are able to bite and inflict wounds upon the opponent with the sharp and well developed teeth it has.

Cliff hangers!

These snakes generally arboreal and inhabit in forests they prefer to hang from tree-branches; this is a convenient posture as it enable them to fall upon the animals like rabbit, stag, and other medium sized animals which they feed upon when pass through below the tree.

The Indian counterparts.

Indian Rock Python Image courtsey: Shibu Bhaskar

There are two popular varieties found in the Indian sub-continent.

The Indian rock python (Python molurus) it is heavier and dark or light-brown in color. Python reticulatus is the largest of the family and grows up to 30 feet in length and has darkish-brown color with iridescent bluish markings in a reticulated pattern). The reticulated python is found in North India, Malaysia and Indo-China. The Australian varieties Diamond python and Carpet pythons are comparatively sender ones and of about nine feet in length.

Strange food-habits!

Pythons exhibit strange dietary habits; a story as told by Boulenger may be quoted as an example. One reticulated python kept at the Paris zoo was not eating anything for months and it was almost in the verge of death due to starvation.

A satyagrahi from Paris! (One who fast to bargain)

The zoo authorities were concerned and tried everything to make the snake eat by offering rabbits, fowls, rats, ducks etc without anything success. One day a goose accidentally entered in the cage and the python devoured it happily! Zoo authorities assumed that the python has regained its appetite and everything with it was OK.

Nothing less than goose!

But that was not the case the python started its fast there onwards and months again passed after feeding the goose came in the menu. Then only the zoo keepers could understand this python was a goose-eater and he ate nothing else!

To be continued...

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