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Tuesday Tetrapod: Python molurus bivittatus

Posted by tigerhawkvok on May 11, 2010 20:20 in tuesday tetrapod

This week's (long overdue) Tuesday Tetrapod is Python molurus bivittatus or the Burmese Python.

P. m. bivitattus

P. molurus bivitattus. Photo CC-BY by Flickr user wildxplorer

P. m. bivitattus is one of the six largest species of snake in the world, reaching nearly 6m in length at their maximum. They are standard constrictor snakes (pythonidae), and due to their nice patterning are popular household pets, which are later often released due to their large size.

P. m. bivitattus is actually becoming an increasing problem in the Florida Everglades, as the household escapees are well-adapted to the environment of the Everglades, and compete for the position of top predator along with the American Alligator. They pose overall ecosystem danger, as they eat many of the endangered birds living in the Everglades currently. This led to the famous "exploding snake" incident.

P. m. bivitattus also demonstrates facultative endothermy. During the brooding season, the female python will often wrap around her eggs and increase her metabolic rates (in conjunction with fast muscle twitches similar to shivering) to regulate the temperature of the eggs. This leads the female during this period to approach avian/mammalian levels of food requirements, and overal metabolism.

P. molurus is rated IUCN near threatened, with an update needed/pending.

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