Burmese Python

Burmese Python

[ Python molurus bivittatus ]

Quick Facts

BODY LENGTH: Up to 21 feet

Up to 180 pounds  

WILD DIET: Mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and birds.
ZOO DIET: Rabbits, guinea pigs, and pullets
DISTRIBUTION: Northeastern India to southern China. South to the Malay Peninsula and East Indies
HABITAT: Grasslands, swamps, marshes, rocky foothills, forests, and jungle and river valleys

Nice to squeeze you

I’ve got a crush on you.
One of the largest snake species in the world, Burmese pythons are known for the way they eat…and what they do before they eat. Constrictor snakes, such as pythons, wrap their entire bodies around prey and each time the meal exhales, the snake tightens it grip. When the prey stops breathing, Burmese pythons swallow it whole, head first. With hinged jaws, pythons are able to dine on prey that’s five times larger than their heads! A big meal like a deer will keep a Burmese python full for a week. Stranger still, if necessary pythons can survive without eating for months at time.
The better to smell you with
A python’s best sense is its sense of smell. And, they even use their tongue to “sniff” the air. The Jacobson’s organ – a hole located in the roof of a snake’s mouth – enhances this sense. As the python’s tongue darts in and out of the mouth, small scent particles are filtered from the air to this organ, allowing a python to track its prey. The forked tongue also has a special function. The split allows pythons to judge distance and literally taste the air.
Mother knows best
Laying anywhere between 12 and 100 eggs at a time, female Burmese pythons are known for being good mothers. In fact, they rarely leave the eggs unattended and spend three months coiled on the nest bed. Like most snakes they use body heat to keep eggs warm, but unique among all snake species, Burmese pythons generate extra heat by trembling its muscles. Upon hatching, snakelets are between 18 to 24 inches in length and leave the nest shortly after being born.
A hiss that’s worse than a bite
As adults, Burmese pythons are so large they have no natural enemies. Relying on perfectly camouflaged bodies, pythons can successfully hide in the underbrush and ambush prey. However, if they do feel threatened, they don’t solely rely on their powerful, sharp fangs. In fact, their bite is neither dangerous nor venomous. If threatened, pythons hiss and then strike at any perceived threats.
Burmese Python at Brookfield Zoo
Gungadin, the lone male Burmese Python is a retired program animal from the Children’s Zoo. Now living at Fragile Kingdom Rainforest, he spends the day lying in a sphagnum moss bed or on a heating pad. 

Get Involved

Conservation Fund of the Chicago Zoological Society