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Burmese Python Adaptations

Updated November 21, 2016

Burmese pythons (python molurus bivitatus) are very large snakes native to Southeast Asia. Females are larger than males and can grow up to 25 feet (7.6m) long and weigh over 136 Kilogram (136kgs). In addition to their large size, Burmese pythons have several physical adaptations that allow the snakes to thrive in the wild.

Colouration

Burmese pythons have a square-mosaic pattern along their back with shades of brown and beige blocks over a solid black base. The camouflage colouration helps conceal the location of the large-bodied snake along the forest floor as well as in rivers, making it easier for Burmese pythons to hunt for prey.

Feeding

Burmese pythons can swallow prey much larger than the size of their own body. Like all snakes, Burmese pythons swallow their prey whole. To do this, they unhinge their jaws and stretch their mouth and use their hook-shaped teeth to push the prey down their throat. After feeding, the snake will rest for several days in the sun in order to digest its meal.

Smell

Burmese pythons have a highly developed sense of smell to make up for their poor vision and lack of hearing. The snakes frequently flick out their forked tongue to collect scents from the surrounding environment. When the tongue returns into the mouth it rubs against an organ called a Jacobson's organ, which interprets the scents collected on the tongue and give the snake detailed information about the environment.

Pit Organs

In addition to their keen sense of smell, Burmese pythons have highly sensitive pit organs located in between scales on the upper lip. These specialised organs allow the snake to sense slight temperature changes in the surrounding environment. The pit organs make it easy for Burmese pythons to locate and see warm-blooded animals at night when the ambient environment is cool.

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