The Light Phase grows at a slower rate than the Dark Phase and it
is also less common than the latter.
Habitat: Jungles, rocky hill slopes, rivers, and still waters
Type: semi-aquatic and arboreal
Size: Up to 13 feet
Food in wild: mammals up to the size of a small antelope, birds
Breeding: Every two years
Incubation period: 56-85 days
No of eggs: Average is 30, but varies greatly. Hatching increases
with temperature and humidity
Lifespan: 10-15 years
This is the largest and commonest of the three subspecies of Indian
Python, and the form usually owned by herpetologists and pet owners.
However, in 1977, Glasgow Zoopark was lucky enough to acquire a pair
of the subspecies Python molarus molarus . Known then as
the " light phase " Indian Python, ( as opposed to the
" dark phase " Burmese python ). We have maintained
this subspecies ever since, breeding them on several occasions and
acquiring " fresh blood " in 1985, from Dvur Kralove in Czechoslovakia.
of the " light phase " Indian pythons in European Zoos,
such as Rome or even Moscow can be traced directly back to Glasgow
Zoopark. In 1984, we received a Meritorious Breeding Certificate
for Sustained Good Husbandry for this species from the National
Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland.
third sub-species is the Ceylonese Pmpimfura, confined to Sri Lanka,
and although we were told at the time, that our original animals
were from Sri Lanka, we hesitate before assigning them to this rare
Pythons range from North-eastern India, east to China and south
to Malaya and the East Indies. It is absent from the Phillipines.
The island of Timor contains a small python previously considered
as a fourth sub-species of Python molarus . This is now
classified as a separate species, the Timor
Python , Python timoriensis , and we own several
specimens. Even when adults this species rarely exceeds 1.2 metres
the late 1970's and early 1980's we bred the Burmese Python
on several times before discontinuing to concentrate on rarer,
more endangered, species. At the time, dealers were buying-in hatchlings
from abroad by the hundred, for just a few pounds each. We could
hardly give them away, and only received an exchange value of a
maximum of £8 which did not begin to cover the costs involved in
breeding this attractive snake. There is no doubt in our minds that
captive breeding to supply the commercial demand for pets is perfectly
viable, and we see little justification in dealing in wild-caught
specimens of this snake, when captive populations are, or could
anyone who has read Asian natural history widely, or travelled in
that region knows, colour variants occur in the wild, and are the
subject of considerable mythology. The late Adrian Nyoke, at the
ill-fated Knavesborough Zoological Gardens collected quite a number
of specimens including white and albinos (known as lencistics today).
These are regularly bred today and the genetics are well understood.
Personally, I find such snakes eye-catching and fascinating, and
we have exhibited a few over the years, though none currently.
do appreciate that some conservationists find the whole subject
of mutations distasteful. It is probably inappropriate for zoos
and serious reptile collections to devote too much space to mutations,
but for private herpetologists, this can be a rewarding and satisfying
area of activity and study.
current specimens Python molarus molarus , have attained
a maximum length of 3 metres. They are long-lived with some specimens
achieving 17 years of age.
no longer growing much, if at all, our snakes shed an average every
six weeks and we save all skins particularly for educational use
by teachers (and trainee teachers at Jordanhill Campus of the University
of Strathclyde . They (the snakes, not the teachers!) are fed
once a week on a dead rabbit or chicken, supplemented with vitamin
and calcium additives.
we kept the larger, more common form, Python molarus molarus
, we found they grew extremely quickly. If abundantly fed,
they grew from 33cms at hatching, to well over a metre in a year,
or 18 months. We never liked them to grow so fast, fearing this
" forcing " could have deleterious long-term problems,
so deliberately tried to grow them on at a more sedate pace.
and regularly handled, young Indian pythons make fascinating pets
for youthful herpetologists, provided they have sufficient space,
and can afford the heating and feeding costs. Once they reach 2.5
metres in length, or more, ( they can grow to 4.5 metres
) they become quite heavy and bulky to lift. Although tame, Burmese
Pythons are recognised as being relatively " placid ",
it should never be forgotten that hungry, frightened, ill,
shedding, breeding, or generally upset, large specimens are potentially
dangerous and can deliver a serious bite.
should never be taken for granted, which is usually the cause of
some of the distressing incidents one reads about from time to time
in the newspapers. These snakes are predators, and a large, hungry
snake, given the chance to predate what it perceives as small, vulnerable
prey sometimes succumbs to the temptation.
it doesn't happen very often, we have been asked to assist now and
then when law enforcement agencies have raided a drug-dealers house.
The last line of defence is sometimes a couple of large Burmese
pythons left loose in the room. It does work, as most police officers
in our experience, whilst they might tackle dogs, draw the line