On the hunt for a chicken dinner!
Luckily the chicken coop was closed up in the nick of time.
Photo: Annette Henry
Patsy the bush python and friends
They are large, non-venemous snakes to 4m (though most don’t exceed 2.5m) throughout Australia except Tasmania. They can live more than 20 years in the natural environment.
They are named for their markings, which resemble carpet patterns of blotches, cross bands, stripes, or a combination of these. .
They mostly live well camouflaged among leaf litter in tree hollows, logs and rocky crevices. They have come to favour roof spaces and perform an important role in keeping vermin under control (rats especially).
Many people are instinctively afraid of snakes and want to remove Pythons they find on their property. They can inflict a savage bite with tearing teeth, but only when provoked. It’s generally best to leave them alone and in particular if you disturb them, do not get between them and their means of escape.
Dogs and cats are both a danger and a possible meal. In some areas where large pythons have been resident for a decade or more, there have been many reports of small dogs going missing. The Python may well be a reasonable suspect. In other cases feral dogs have been known to harass and kill Pythons living in urband bushland.
Patsy the bush python and friends “Just do your best dahlings!” Photo: Robert Whyte
Patsy the bush python
“In the Australian python Morelia spilotes, these pits are innervated by the maxillary and mandibular branches of the trigeminal nerve. Structural and neurophysiological evidence indicate that in the pits there are receptors that function as detectors of radiant heat flux.” – Infrared Receptors in the Facial Pits of the Australian Python Morelia spilotes James W. Warren and Uwe Proske, Science 26 January 1968
Photo: Robert Whyte
Python under bridge
Photo: Robert Whyte
Though cold-blooded like all snakes, female can raise their body temperature by twitching muscles, creating enough warmth to incubate eggs.
Sometimes females will defend their nest if they are guarding a clutch of eggs. Nests in our area have been found under piles of woody weeds and other mulch heaped up by bush care activities.
Interestingly, Pythons (the Pythonidae) have vestigial pelvic girdles and hind limbs that show up externally as a pair of “spurs” near the base of the tail. Males use these spurs during courtship and mating.
Photo: Dick Harding