African Rock Python Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The African rock python (Python sebae) is one of the 11 python species that is found in the forests of sub-Saharan Africa. It is the largest snake in Africa. The northern population is bigger than the southern pythons. It can eat medium-size animals up to the size of crocodiles. Although the python is not really endangered its habitats are nevertheless hit badly by human hunting and deforestation.

African Rock Python

Anatomy

  • They are one of the world’s largest snakes with adults reaching up to 3 to 3.53 m (9 ft 10 in to 11 ft 7 in) in length. The largest specimen may exceed 4.8 m (15 ft 9 in).
  • Adult rock pythons weigh 44 to 55 kg (97 to 121 lb) with the large specimen averaging 91 kg (201 lb) in weight.
  • There are colored patterns of irregular stripes all over the python’s body. African rock pythons are recognized by their brown, yellow to olive body markings. The undersides are white in color.
  • The triangular head is dark brown while its borders are outlined in buffy yellow color.
  • There seems to be clear difference in the body colors of adults and young pythons. Even hatchlings appear to be same as adults.
african rock python facts
African Rock Python ©www.flickriver.com

Geographic Range

  • African rock pythons occur in many African countries including Somalia, Namibia, Senegal, South Africa, and Ethiopia. The python’s range extends central and western Africa.

Habitat

  • Rock pythons are thought to occupy a wide range of habitats including grasslands, rocky areas, savanna, and semi-desert. The African rock python likes to live near permanent water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and swamps.
  • Oddly enough, the rock python has adapted to living in human populated areas particularly in cane fields.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • The African rock python is a typical python species that is to say it kills its prey by constriction and the snake is absolutely non-venomous. It coils tightly around the prey’s body making the prey helpless. The more it breathes the more the snake tightens the coil.
  • African rock python’s diet includes monkeys, fruit bats, large rodents, antelopes, monitor lizards, and warthog. They can even kill crocodiles whereas in suburban areas rock pythons consume dogs, rats, and goats.
  • On rare occasions pythons may also eat cubs of cheetahs, lions, hyenas, leopards, and cape-hunting dogs.
african rock python facts
The African rock python eating an impala fawn ©www.natgeocreative.com

Reproduction Biology

  • African rock pythons mate in spring. The female lays 20 to as many as 100 eggs which are elongated in length.
  • The eggs are laid in some cave, mound or in animal burrows.
  • Eggs hatch in about 3 months. During this time the mother will guard the eggs while coiling around them. She does not only protect the eggs from predators but also incubate them.
  • Hatchlings are 45–60 cm (18–24 inches) long at birth. They have the same body color (and patterns) as that of adults.
  • The average lifespan of the African rock python is 12 years in captivity.
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