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Species of the Week

September 26, 2011

Asiatic rock python  (Python molurus)

Python molurus is a large nonvenomous python species found in many tropic and subtropic areas of Southern and Southeast Asia. It is known by the common names Indian python or Indian rock python and by its regional names as Referred to as “Ajgar” in Hindi and “Aazda” in Urdu . Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List  and listed on Appendix II of CITES.

Description:

In Pakistan, Indian Pythons commonly reach a length of 2.4–3 metres (7.9–9.8 ft).In India, the nominate subspecies grows to 3 metres (9.8 ft) on average . This value is supported by a 1990 study in Keoladeo National Park, where the biggest 25% of the python population was 2.7–3.3 metres (8.9–11 ft) long. Only two specimen even measured nearly 3.6 metres (12 ft).  The longest scientifically recorded specimen hailed from Pakistan and was 4.6 metres (15 ft) in length and weighing 52 kilograms (115 lb).

Geographic range & Habitat:

The nominate subspecies is found in Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, southern Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and probably in the north of Myanmar.

Occurs in a wide range of habitats, including grasslands, swamps, marshes, rocky foothills, woodlands, “open” jungle and river valleys. They depend on a permanent source of water. Sometimes they can be found in abandoned mammal burrows, hollow trees, dense water reeds and mangrove thickets.

Behavior , Feeding & Reproduction:

Lethargic and slow moving even in its native habitat, they exhibit timidity and rarely try to escape even when attacked. Locomotion is usually rectilinear, with the body moving in a straight line. They are very good swimmers and are quite at home in water.

These snakes feed on mammals, birds and reptiles indiscriminately, but seem to prefer mammals. Roused to activity on sighting prey, the snake will advance with quivering tail and lunge with open mouth. Live prey is constricted and killed. One or two coils are used to hold it in a tight grip. The prey, unable to breathe, succumbs and is subsequently swallowed head first.

Oviparous,up to 100 eggs are laid, protected and incubated by the female. Towards this end, it has been shown that they are capable of raising their body temperature above the ambient level through muscular contractions. The hatchlings are 45–60 cm (18–24 in) in length and grow quickly.[

Conservation:

These Beautiful snakes have often been killed for their fine skin and are endangered. They are now partly protected by the Tamil Nadu Government. In Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the meat is eaten by locals as the fat is purported to have medicinal value. Its classified as Endangered species in Bangladesh and Pakistan. This  Near Threatened  species needs more conservation action to protect it from extinction.If large areas of critically important habitat is not protected and efforts to stop poaching or persecution of this majestic species does not stops then the future of this Giants are in peril.

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