ANIMAL: Ball/Royal Python Python regius Type of Animal: Boa/Python Habitat: Grasslands, savanna, woodlands, forests, overgrown fields, agricultural areas & borders, village outskirts, tilled fields, barns, forest edge Location(s): W & C Africa from Senegal to S Sudan & Uganda Appearance: Females larger than males, males have larger spurs, black/dark brown color w/ light brown/gold sides & dorsal blotches, white/cream belly sometimes w/ scattered black markings. Albino yellows & many other different colored morphs popular in pet trade. Food/Diet: Rodents, shrews, baby monkeys, birds (up to size of chickens), lizards, lagomorphs, other snakes (including smaller members of own species & venomous species), crocodile hatchlings, amphibians, fish, young tortoises, young turtles, dwarf antelope, duiker calves/fawns Status in Wild: Stable Conservation: Breeding in zoos, wildlife centers, & pet trade Lifestyle: Solitary Additional Info: Called: Male Female Young-Snakelet Group-Solitary Weight: Male-2.42 lbs Female-4.4 lbs Young-3.5 oz Gestation: 1.5-2 months Life Span: 20-30 years Body Length: Male-2-3 ft Female-3-5 ft Young-1 ft Tail Length: 1 ft Main predators of adults are crocodiles, felines, larger snakes, pigs, raptors, cobras, dogs, hyenas, badgers, & monitor lizards. Young preyed on by other snakes (including adult ball pythons), smaller carnivorous/omnivorous mammals, large frogs, smaller predatory birds, spiders, & predatory ants. Hunted for leather & meat in some areas. Highly valued for controlling rodent populations. Called Ball Python due to tendency for animal to curl into ball when stressed/frightened. Females lay 3-11 eggs per clutch. Males sexually mature at 11 months, females sexually mature at 20 months. Kills prey by constricting & swallowing whole. Due to heat sensing pits along upper jaw, they can find prey in complete darkness. Fun Fact(s): These snakes are excellent pets & are the most popular pet pythons. Among some Ghanaian tribes, if a person kills python, he/she has head & body shaved & forced to carry dead snake in cooking pot atop shaven head to special site for long, tedious purification & burial. There’s legend that Cleopatra wore one around her arm, which may have given rise to it being called royal python. African royalty in many areas wore them as jewelry. Among Igbo of SE Nigeria, if python killed inadvertently, it receives coffin & ritual burial. In parts of range, revered in traditional religions as holy symbol of earth.
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