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Reticulated Python - World's Longest Snake

Buzzle Staff
Reticulated python, the world's longest snake, is found throughout coastal Southeast Asia. These snakes are very popular as pets.
The reticulated python (Python reticulatus) is among the three Old World pythons. It is relatively slender and characterized by an attractive diamond-shaped pattern, highlighted by white spots and a light brown background.
It is native to coastal Southeast Asia and is found in Myanmar, Bangladesh, east of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Nicobar Islands, and most of the islands of Indonesia and Philippines. It's the longest snake in the world.
Reticulated pythons can be found in a variety of habitats, including open woodlands, dense forests, rocky areas, lakes, rivers, and swamps. Usually, they are found in areas with water bodies. They are excellent swimmers and rarely attack humans. The lifespan of these snakes is around 15 to 25 years.
Reticulated pythons are getting popular as pets, especially the selectively-bred types, like the albino and the tiger.
Though they are considered as docile and gentle pets, captive snakes can get aggressive, if handled improperly. They are not venomous, but have strong teeth and may bite too.
The Length: The reticulated python can attain considerable length, and is said to be the world's longest snake and reptile.
Reticulated Python - Size and Looks
Though this python is believed to have a maximum length of more than 30 feet, such reports are still not confirmed. In fact, the average length of an adult reticulated python is about 12 to 20 feet. However, some snakes may measure up to 30 feet in length. Apart from reticulated pythons, very few snakes are believed to exceed the length of 20 feet.
The Guinness World Record for the largest snake living in captivity goes to a reticulated python named 'Medusa'. The snake, which is 25 feet and 2 inches long, has a body weight of more than 300 pounds. It is owned by the Full Moon Productions in Kansas City, Missouri. However, these snakes are not heavily built as compared to the anaconda.
Geometric Pattern: Reticulated pythons have a complex geometric pattern. These patterns on the back are mostly irregular and diamond-shaped, with smaller markings. In fact, the name of the snake is derived from the reticulated or 'net-like' pattern of the snake.
They have many variations in color, size, and markings, according to their geographic location.
Reticulated Python Color
However, the basic colors of the snake include black, dark brown, brown, tan, and yellow. The body color as well as the complex geometric pattern help them in camouflaging. It can be difficult to distinguish them from their surroundings, like the forest floors with mud and leaf litter, tree branches, etc.
As of now, there are three recognized subspecies of reticulated python. They are:
Subspecies and Variations

Python reticulatus reticulatus (retics)
Python reticulatus saputrai (selayer retics)
Python reticulatus jampeanus (jampea retics)

Selayer retics and Jampea retics are dwarf subspecies. Usually, these two subspecies do not grow to a length of more than 10 feet.
Genetic morphs, like super tiger, tiger, albino (dark lavender, lavender, white, and purple phase), genetic stripe, albino super tiger, albino tiger, golden child, sunfire, ivory/white flame, calico, etc., are now available as pets. The most sought-after types are small-sized ones with a docile nature.
It has been reported that the temperament of a reticulated python varies according to different geographical areas.
For example, the reticulated python of the Lesser Sundas Islands of Indonesia and central Thailand are more docile and calm in captivity, than those found in other areas.
Reticulated pythons of Sulawesi Islands, Indonesia are typically irritable and defensive. Irrespective of their location, retics caught from the wild will be aggressive and are found to be difficult to train.
As compared to the wild ones, captive-bred snakes are docile. However, improper handling and/or mistreatment may make them aggressive. These pythons normally reside in humid forests with temperatures ranging from 80 to 92 ºF. Due to excessive dependence on water, they are often found besides small ponds and streams.
Usually, they avoid daylight and are active during nighttime. Due to their heavy size, these snakes normally stay on the ground, but arboreal ones are also found. Reticulated pythons distinguish their prey by their movement and odor.
They have heat-sensing pits that are small, rectangular openings in the scales on its lips. These pits help them sense the warmth of the prey.
Reticulated pythons are carnivorous in nature. Due to their huge size, these pythons have an inbuilt capacity to devour a large variety of prey. However, the choice of prey depends on the size of the snake.
Diet and Feeding Habits
Small-sized individuals feed on rodents, rats, and birds. As they grow big, these snakes look for larger birds and mammals, like deer, monkeys, pigs, civets, binturongs, etc. Though rare, there are reports about reticulated pythons attacking and feeding on humans.
Once they ensure that the prey is within their range, they entrap the prey with their heavy bodies and constrict them to death, before swallowing. They can swallow very large animals with a body weight similar to their own. With a very low rate of metabolism, reticulated pythons may take a long time to digest large prey. So, they can live without food for longer durations.
In captivity, hatchlings should be given rat pups and small mice. As they grow, larger rats can be offered.
Once they reach two years of age, you can feed them chickens or rabbits, two or three times a month. Hatchlings should be fed in short intervals; once in seven days would be ideal. One full diet for an adult would be sufficient for 3 weeks.
But an egg-laying female's diet should be double the normal amount. Fresh water should be provided in a heavy dish. Avoid overfeeding that will make the snake obese. Even though they prefer live food, you may use frozen, thawed food too. As the snake grows bigger, it is advisable to use a separate feeding container. Avoid handling the snake, after you handle their food.
Reticulated male pythons breed when they are around 2 years of age and females reach sexual maturity within the age of 3 to 4. In captivity, they breed between September to March.
The female lay eggs and wrap their powerful bodies around them for two or more months. This is known as brooding, and it prevents the eggs from getting too cool or warm. The female python alternatively contracts and relaxes her muscles and 'shivers' to raise the temperature of the eggs as well as her bod
The eggs are yellowish or white, shiny, soft, and sticky. They stick together,and this protects them from drying out. The eggs measure 10 to 13 cm (4 to 5 inches) in length. A single clutch may have around 25 to 100 eggs, and it takes around 90 days for hatching.
Once hatched, the two-feet long hatchlings are usually abandoned. In captivity, an incubation temperature of 88 to 90 °F is required for hatching.
Pythons As Pets
The popularity of reticulated pythons has increased due to pet trade. These snakes are also hunted for skin, meat, and for folk medicine. This snake is extremely rewarding as a pet, but the owner should have previous experience of handling such a large python.
An inexperienced keeper may enable the python to escape. It can inflict injury to the keeper, neighbors, or other pets. By nature, they do not attack humans, but may constrict or bite, if mistaken for food, or when they feel threatened.
Although they don't have venom, reticulated pythons can bite and cause serious injuries. Though human fatalities due to attacks of reticulated pythons are rare, these snakes are capable of inflicting serious bites.
They have the capacity to constrict, kill, and even swallow kids and teenagers. So, think twice before adopting one as a pet. In short, if you know nothing about the snake and its requirements, it is better to avoid keeping one as a pet.