HOME

TheInfoList




The Pythonidae, commonly known as pythons, are a
family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same Politic ...
of nonvenomous
snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivore, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes . Like all other Squamata, squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping Scale (zoology), scales. Many species of snakes ...

snake
s found in Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its members are some of the largest snakes in the world. Ten
genera Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying gr ...
and 42
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
are currently recognized.


Distribution and habitat

Pythons are found in
sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the United Nations, it consists of all list of sovereign states and dependent territories i ...

sub-Saharan Africa
,
Nepal Nepal (; ne, नेपाल ), officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal ( ne, सङ्घीय लोकतान्त्रिक गणतन्त्र नेपाल ), is a landlocked country in South Asia. It is ma ...

Nepal
,
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by area, seventh-largest country by area, the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous ...

India
,
Bangladesh Bangladesh (, bn, বাংলাদেশ, ), officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia South Asia is the southern region of Asia, which is defined in both geography, geographical and culture, ethno-c ...

Bangladesh
,
Sri Lanka Sri Lanka (, ; si, ශ්‍රී ලංකාව, Śrī Laṅkā, translit-std=ISO (); ta, இலங்கை, Ilaṅkai, translit-std=ISO ()), formerly known as Ceylon, and officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, is ...

Sri Lanka
,
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
, southeastern
Pakistan Pakistan, . Pronounced variably in English as , , , and . officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, is a country in South Asia. It is the world's List of countries and dependencies by population, fifth-most populous country, with a popul ...

Pakistan
, southern
China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in . It is the world's , with a of more than 1.4 billion. China spans five geographical and 14 different countries, the in the world after . Covering an area of ap ...

China
, the
Philippines The Philippines (; fil, Pilipinas, links=no), officially the Republic of the Philippines ( fil, Republika ng Pilipinas, links=no), * bik, Republika kan Filipinas * ceb, Republika sa Pilipinas * cbk, República de Filipinas * hil, Republ ...

Philippines
and
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
. In the United States, an introduced population of
Burmese python The Burmese python (''Python bivittatus'') is one of the largest species of snakes Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivore, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes . Like all other Squamata, squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amnio ...

Burmese python
s, ''Python bivittatus'', has existed as an
invasive species An invasive species is an introduced organism that becomes overpopulated and negatively alters its new environment. Although their spread can have beneficial aspects, invasive species adversely affect the invaded habitat Ibex in an ...
in the
Everglades National Park Everglades National Park is an American national park#REDIRECT National park A national park is a park in use for Conservation (ethic), conservation purposes, created and protected by national governments. Often it is a reserve of natural, ...

Everglades National Park
since the late 1990s.


Common names

*
Sinhala Sinhala may refer to: * Something of or related to the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka * Sinhalese people * Sinhala language, one of the three official languages used in Sri Lanka * Sinhala script, a writing system for the Sinhala language ** Sinhala ...
- පිඹුරා (''Pimbura'') *
Telugu Telugu may refer to: * Telugu language, a major Dravidian language of India *Telugu people, an ethno-linguistic group of India * Telugu script, used to write the Telugu language ** Telugu (Unicode block), a block of Telugu characters in Unicode ...
- కొండచిలువ (Kondachiluva) *
Odia Odia, also spelled Oriya or Odiya, may refer to: * Odia people in Odisha, India * Odia language, an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family * Odia alphabet, a writing system used for the Odia language ...
- ଅଜଗର (Ajagara)


Conservation

Many species have been hunted aggressively, which has greatly reduced the population of some, such as the
Indian python ''Python molurus'' is a large, nonvenomous python species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defin ...
, ''Python molurus''.


Behavior

Most members of this family are
ambush predator Ambush predators or sit-and-wait predators are carnivorous animal A carnivore , meaning "meat eater" (Latin, ''caro'', genitive ''carnis'', meaning "meat" or "flesh" and ''vorare'' meaning "to devour"), is an organism, animal whose food and e ...
s, in that they typically remain motionless in a camouflaged position, and then strike suddenly at passing prey. Attacks on humans, although known to occur, are extremely rare.


Feeding

Pythons use their sharp, backward-curving teeth, four rows in the upper jaw, two in the lower, to grasp prey which is then killed by
constriction Constriction is a method used by various snake Snakes are elongated, limbless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes . Like all other squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote Amniotes (from Greek ἀμνίον ''amnion'', ...

constriction
; after an animal has been grasped to restrain it, the python quickly wraps a number of coils around it. Death occurs primarily by cardiac arrest. Larger specimens usually eat animals about the size of a house cat, but larger food items are known; some large Asian species have been known to take down adult
deer Deer or true deer are hoof A hoof ( or ), plural hooves ( or ) or hoofs , is the tip of a toe Toes are the digits (fingers) of the foot of a tetrapod. Animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organis ...

deer
, and the
African rock python The African rock python (''Python sebae'') is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined ...

African rock python
, ''Python sebae'', has been known to eat
antelope The term antelope is used to refer to many species of even-toed ruminant Ruminants (suborder In biological classification, the order ( la, wikt:ordo#Latin, ordo) is # a taxonomic rank used in the classification of organisms and recognized by ...

antelope
. In 2017, there was a recorded case of a
human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most abundant and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A speci ...

human
devoured by a python in
Sulawesi Sulawesi (), also known as Celebes (), is one of the four Greater Sunda Islands The Greater Sunda Islands are four tropical islands situated within Southeast Asia, in the Pacific Ocean. The islands, Borneo, Java, Sulawesi and Sumatra, are i ...

Sulawesi
,
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
. All prey is swallowed whole, and may take several days or even weeks to fully digest. Contrary to popular belief, even the larger species, such as the
reticulated python The reticulated python (''Malayopython reticulatus'') is a python species native to South South is one of the cardinal directions or compass points. South is the opposite of north and is perpendicular to the east and west. Etymology The word ...

reticulated python
, ''Malayopython reticulatus'', do not crush their prey to death; in fact, prey is not even noticeably deformed before it is swallowed. The speed with which the coils are applied is impressive and the force they exert may be significant, but death is caused by cardiac arrest.


Reproduction

Pythons are
oviparous Oviparous animals are female animals that lay their egg Diagram of a chicken egg in its 9th day. Membranes: allantois, chorion, amnion, and vitellus/ yolk. An egg is the organic vessel containing the zygote in which an embryo develops un ...
. This sets them apart from the family
Boidae The Boidae, commonly known as boas or boids, are a Family (biology), family of nonvenomous snakes primarily found in the Americas, as well as Africa, Europe, Asia, and some Pacific Islands. Boas include some of the world's largest snakes, with t ...
(boas), most of which bear live young (
ovoviviparous Ovoviviparity, ovovivipary, ovivipary, or aplacental viviparity is an outmoded term used as a "bridging" form of reproduction between egg-laying oviparous and live-bearing viviparous reproduction. Ovoviviparous animals have the embryos develop ...
). After they lay their eggs, females typically incubate them until they hatch. This is achieved by causing the muscles to "shiver", which raises the temperature of the body to a certain degree, and thus that of the eggs. Keeping the eggs at a constant temperature is essential for healthy embryo development. During the incubation period, females do not eat and leave only to bask to raise their body temperature.


Captivity

Most species in this family are available in the exotic pet trade. However, caution must be exercised with the larger species, as they can be dangerous; rare cases of large specimens killing their owners have been documented.


Taxonomy

Obsolete classification schemes—such as that of Boulenger (1890)—place pythons in Pythoninae, a
subfamily In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circumscribing) and classifying groups of biological organisms based on shared characteristics. Organisms are grou ...
of the boa family,
Boidae The Boidae, commonly known as boas or boids, are a Family (biology), family of nonvenomous snakes primarily found in the Americas, as well as Africa, Europe, Asia, and some Pacific Islands. Boas include some of the world's largest snakes, with t ...
. However, despite a superficial resemblance to boas, pythons are more closely related to sunbeam snakes ('' Xenopeltis'') and burrowing pythons ('' Loxocemus'').


Genera


Relationship with humans


Poaching pythons

Poaching Poaching has been defined as the illegal hunting Hunting is the practice of seeking, pursuing and capturing or killing wildlife or feral animals. The most common reasons for humans to hunt are to harvest useful animal products (meat, fur/h ...
of pythons is a lucrative business with the global python skin trade being an estimated US$1 billion as of 2012. Pythons are poached for their meat, mostly consumed locally as
bushmeat Bushmeat is meat from wildlife species that are hunted for human consumption. Bushmeat represents a primary source of animal protein and a cash-earning commodity for inhabitants of humid tropical forest regions in Africa, Latin America and Asia. ...
and their skin, which is sent to Europe and North America for manufacture of accessories like bags, belts and shoes. The demand for poaching is increased because python farming is very expensive. Python poaching in Africa occurs for
bushmeat Bushmeat is meat from wildlife species that are hunted for human consumption. Bushmeat represents a primary source of animal protein and a cash-earning commodity for inhabitants of humid tropical forest regions in Africa, Latin America and Asia. ...
, usually for local use, and for skin, which is traded internationally for accessories.  In
Cameroon Cameroon (, french: Cameroun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (french: République du Cameroun, links=no), is a country in west 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal direc ...

Cameroon
bushmeat markets, the
African Rock Python The African rock python (''Python sebae'') is a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined ...

African Rock Python
is commonly sold for meat and is very expensive at US$175.  The poaching of the pythons is illegal in
Cameroon Cameroon (, french: Cameroun), officially the Republic of Cameroon (french: République du Cameroun, links=no), is a country in west 250px, A compass rose with west highlighted in black West or Occident is one of the four cardinal direc ...

Cameroon
under their wildlife law, but there is little to no enforcement. In
Kenya ) , national_anthem = "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (, ) is the national anthem of Kenya. History "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu"'s lyrics were originally written in Swahili language, Kiswahili, the national language of Kenya ...

Kenya
, there has been an increase in snake farms to address the demand for
snake skin Snakeskin may either refer to the skin of a live snake, the shed skin of a snake after molting In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemi ...
internationally, but there are health concerns for the workers, and danger due to poachers coming to the farms to hunt the snakes.


Pythons and human health

While pythons are not venomous, they do carry a host of potential health issues for humans. Pythons are disease vectors for multiple illness, including
Salmonella ''Salmonella'' is a genus Genus /ˈdʒiː.nəs/ (plural genera /ˈdʒen.ər.ə/) is a taxonomic rank In biological classification In biology, taxonomy () is the scientific study of naming, defining (Circumscription (taxonomy), circ ...
,
Chlamydia Chlamydia, or more specifically a chlamydia infection, is a sexually transmitted infection caused by the bacterium '' Chlamydia trachomatis''. Most people who are infected have no symptoms. When symptoms do appear it can be several weeks after ...
,
Leptospirosis Leptospirosis is a blood infection caused by the bacteria '' Leptospira''. Signs and symptoms can range from none to mild ( headaches, muscle pains, and fever Fever, also referred to as pyrexia, is defined as having a temperature ...
, Aeromoniasis,
Campylobacteriosis Campylobacteriosis is an infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body Tissue (biology), tissues by Pathogen, disease-causing agents, their multiplication, and the reaction of host (biology), host tissues to the infectious agent ...

Campylobacteriosis
, and . These diseases may be transmitted to humans through excreted waste, open wounds, and contaminated water. A 2013 study found that Reptile-Associated Salmonella (RAS) is most common in young children who had been in contact with invasive pythons, with symptoms including "
sepsis Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that arises when the body's response to infection An infection is the invasion of an organism's body by , their multiplication, and the reaction of tissues to the infectious agents and the s they pr ...
,
meningitis Meningitis is an acute Acute may refer to: Science and technology * Acute angle ** Acute triangle ** Acute, a leaf shape in the glossary of leaf morphology#acute, glossary of leaf morphology * Acute (medicine), a disease that it is of short dur ...
, and bone and joint infection". Pythons are also integrated into some aspects of African health and belief use, often with the added risk of contacting zoonotic diseases. Python bodies and blood are used for African traditional medicines and other belief uses as well, one in-depth study of all animals used by the Yorubas of Nigeria for traditional medicine found that the African Python is used to cure rheumatism, snake poison, appeasing witches, and accident prevention. Python habitats, diets, and invasion into new areas also impact human health and prosperity. A University of Florida Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences study found that the Burmese Python, as an invasive species, enters new habitats and eats an increasing number of mammals, leaving limited species for mosquitoes to bite, forcing them to bite disease-carrying
hispid cotton rat The hispid cotton rat (''Sigmodon hispidus'') is a rodent species long thought to occur in parts of South America, Central America, and southern North America. However, recent taxonomic revisions, based on mitochondrial DNA sequence data, have sp ...

hispid cotton rat
s and then infect humans with the
Everglades Virus ''Everglades virus'' (EVEV) is an alphavirus ''Alphavirus'' is a genus of RNA viruses, the sole genus in the ''Togaviridae'' family. Alphaviruses belong to group IV of the Baltimore classification of viruses, with a Positive-sense ssRNA virus# ...
, a dangerous infection that is carried by very few animals. While direct human-python interactions can be potentially dangerous, the risk of zoonotic diseases is always a concern, whether considering medical and belief use in Nigeria or when addressing invasive species impacts in Florida.


Traditional use


Skin

Python skin has traditionally been used as the attire of choice for medicine men and healers. Typically,
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
n
Zulu Zulu may refer to: Zulu people * Zulu Kingdom or Zulu Empire, a former monarchy in what is now South Africa * Zulu language, a Bantu language spoken in southern Africa * Zulu people, an ethnic group of southern Africa Arts, entertainment, and med ...
traditional healers will use python skin in ceremonial regalia. Pythons are viewed by the Zulu tradition to be a sign of power. This is likely why the skin is worn by traditional healers. Healers are seen as all-powerful since they have a wealth of knowledge, as well as accessibility to the ancestors.


Fat

Typically, species are attributed to healing various ailments based on their likeliness to a specific bodily attribute. For example, in many cultures, the python is seen as a strong and powerful creature. As a result, pythons are often prescribed as a method of increasing strength. It is very common for the body fat of pythons to be used to treat a large variation of issues such as
joint pain Arthralgia (from Greek ''arthro-'', joint + ''-algos'', pain) literally means ''joint A joint or articulation (or articular surface) is the connection made between bone A bone is a Stiffness, rigid tissue (anatomy), tissue that constitutes pa ...
, rheumatic pain,
toothache Toothache, also known as dental pain,Segen JC. (2002). ''McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine''. The McGraw-Hill Companies. is pain Pain is a distressing feeling often caused by intense or damaging stimuli. The defines pain ...
and eye sight. Additionally, python fat has been used to treat those suffering from mental illnesses like
psychosis Psychosis is an abnormal condition of the mind that results in difficulties determining what is Reality, real and what is not real. Symptoms may include delusions and hallucinations, among other features. Additional symptoms are thought disord ...
. Their calm nature is thought to be of use to treat combative patients. The fat of the python is rubbed onto the body part that is in pain. To improve mental illnesses, it is often rubbed on the temple. The existence of evidence for genuine anti inflammatory and anti-microbial properties of the refined 'snake oil' ironic with respect to the expression "snake oil salesman".


Blood

Python blood plays another important role in
traditional medicine Traditional medicine (also known as indigenous Indigenous may refer to: *Indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are culturally distinct ethnic gr ...

traditional medicine
. Many believe that python blood prevents the accumulation of
fatty acid In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during ...
s,
triglyceride A triglyceride (TG, triacylglycerol, TAG, or triacylglyceride) is an ester An ester is a derived from an (organic or inorganic) in which at least one –OH group is replaced by an –O– () group, as in the substitution reaction of a an ...

triglyceride
s and
lipid In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanis ...
s from reaching critically high levels. Additionally, their blood has been used as a source of iron for people who are anemic, which helps reduce fatigue.''[''The sources were not specific on the way this blood is administered; however, due to the use of snake blood in traditional treatments in other parts of the world for similar causes, it is likely that the patient drinks the blood in order to feel the effects.


Feces

The Sukuma Tribe of Tanzania have been known to use python feces in order to treat back pain. The feces are frequently mixed with a little water, placed on the back, and left for two to three days.


Organs

In Nigeria, the
gallbladder In vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotro ...

gallbladder
and
liver The liver is an organ Organ may refer to: Biology * Organ (anatomy) An organ is a group of Tissue (biology), tissues with similar functions. Plant life and animal life rely on many organs that co-exist in organ systems. A given organ's t ...

liver
of a python are used to treat poison or bites from other snakes. The python head has been used to "appease witches". Many traditional African cultures believe that they can be cursed by witches. In order to reverse spells and bad luck, traditional doctors will prescribe python heads.


Folklore

In northwestern
Ghana Ghana (), officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country in West Africa West Africa or Western Africa is the westernmost region of . The defines Western Africa as the 17 countries of , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , and as well as .Paul R. ...

Ghana
, people see pythons as a savior and have taboos to prevent the snake from being harmed or eaten. Their folklore states that this is because a python once helped them flee from their enemies by transforming into a log to allow them to cross a river. In
Botswana Botswana (, also ), officially the Republic of Botswana ( tn, Lefatshe la Botswana, label=Setswana; Kalanga language, Kalanga: ''Hango yeBotswana''), is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. Botswana is topographically flat, with up to 70 ...

Botswana
, San ritual practices surrounding pythons date back 70,000 years. In San mythology the python is a sacred creature that is highly respected. They believe that mankind was made by a python that moved in between hills to create stream beds. In
Benin Benin ( , ; french: Bénin ), officially the Republic of Benin (french: République du Bénin) (formerly known as Dahomey The Kingdom of Dahomey () was a West African kingdom located within present-day Benin Benin ( , ; french: ...
, Vodun practitioners believe that pythons symbolize strength and the spirit of Dagbe
Yoruba Yoruba may refer to: * Yoruba people The Yoruba people () are a Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa (commonly called Black Africa) is, geographically, the area of the continent of Africa that lies south of the Sahara. According to the U ...
].  Annually, people sacrifice animals and proclaim their sins to pythons that are kept inside temples.


References


Notes


Citations


External links

*
Pythons (Pythonidae)
a
Answers.com
Accessed 3 November 2008. {{Authority control Snake families Taxa named by Leopold Fitzinger