- Common names: diamond python, diamond snake.
is a non-venomous python species
found in Indonesia
, New Guinea
. Currently, 6 subspecies
are recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here.
Adults can grow to 4 m in length and weigh over 5 kg
. M. s. mcdowelli
is the largest form, regularly attaining lengths of 2.7-3 m (9-10 feet). M. s. variegata
is the smallest, averaging of 120-180 cm (4-6) feet in length. The average adult length is roughly 2 m (6.5 ft). However, one 3-year-old captive male M. s. mcdowelli
, measured in Ireland, was found to exceed 396 cm (13 ft). Males are typically smaller than females, and the head is triangular with a conspicuous row of thermoreceptive labial pits.
The color pattern for M. s. spilota is black with white or cream and gold markings. Most other forms have intricate markings made up of light and dark bands on a background of gray or a version of brown.
Found in Indonesia
(southern Western New Guinea
in Merauke Regency
), Papua New Guinea
(southern Western Province
, the Port Moresby
area of Central Province
and on Yule Island) and Australia
(excluding southern Victoria
and much of the center and the west of the country). The type locality
given is "Nouvelle-Hollande" [Australia].
Occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from the rainforests of northeastern Queensland (M. s. cheynei
) through the River Red Gum/Riverbox woodlands of the Murray and Darling Rivers (M. s. metcalfei
), to the arid, tree-less islands of Nuyts Archipelago off the South Australian west coast (M. s. imbricata
). Often found near human habitation where they perform a useful service by eating rats
and other vermin. M. s. spilota
is even know to occur in areas that receive snowfall. Diamond pythons are tree snakes, they do not completely rely on trees, however, and are capable of moving around elsewhere.
The nominate subspecies, M. s. spilota
, is under threat due to habitat destruction.
Described as semi-arboreal
, they are largely nocturnal, climbing trees and shrubs as well as crossing open areas such as rock faces, forest floors and even roads. However, basking behavior is commonly observed.
The diet consists mainly of small mammals, bats, birds and lizards. Captive specimens are normally fed live or frozen rats.
, with females laying 10-50 eggs at a time. Afterwards, females coil around the eggs to protect them and keep them warm through using muscular contractions to generate heat. This type of maternal care, which is typical for pythons, ceases once the hatchlings have emerged.
This species is a popular pet among enthusiasts. Some forms can be more irascible than others, such as M. s. mcdowelli
and M. s. variegata
. Forms that tend to be more even tempered include M. s. spilota
and M. s. metcalfei
. However this is not a hard rule. Although they can grow to a reasonable size (2-3.5 m) and can be nippy as hatchlings, most will grow into docile, trustworthy adults. However, care must be taken when feeding, as these snakes have a strong feeding response
; behavior that can be mistaken for aggression. They can be fed on rats and mice and have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
- Mattison, C. 1999. Snake. DK Publishing. ISBN 0-7894-4660-X.