The Burmese python is one of the five largest species of snakes in the world. It is native to a large area of Southeast Asia. These are dark-colored snakes with many brown blotches bordered in black down the back. The bold patterns are similar to those seen on a giraffe. The perceived attractiveness of Burmese pythons' skin pattern contributes to their popularity with both reptile keepers and the leather industry.
Burmese pythons occur throughout Southern and Southeast Asia, including eastern India, southeastern Nepal, western Bhutan, southeastern Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, northern continental Malaysia, and in southern China in Fujian, Jiangxi, Guangdong, Hainan, Guangxi, and Yunnan. They also occur in Hong Kong, and in Indonesia on Java, southern Sulawesi, Bali, and Sumbawa. They have also been reported on Kinmen. Burmese pythons live in grasslands, marshes, swamps, rocky foothills, woodlands, rainforests, mangrove forests, river valleys, and jungles with open clearings.
Burmese pythons are solitary and mainly nocturnal rainforest dwellers. When young, they are equally at home on the ground and in trees, but as they gain girth, they tend to restrict most of their movements to the ground. They are also excellent swimmers and are able to stay submerged for up to half an hour. Burmese pythons spend the majority of their time hidden in the underbrush and will usually move only when hunting or when threatened. In the northern parts of their range, these snakes may brumate (hibernate) for some months during the cold season in a hollow tree, a hole in the riverbank, or under rocks.
Burmese pythons are usually found in pairs only when mating. They breed in the early spring, with females laying clutches of 12-36 eggs in March or April. The female will remain with the eggs until they hatch, wrapping around them and twitching their muscles in such a way as to raise the ambient temperature around the eggs by several degrees. Incubation usually lasts around 60-80 days. The young use their egg tooth to cut their way out of their eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the snakelets quickly become independent. They often remain inside their eggs until they are ready to complete their first shedding of skin, after which they hunt for their first meal. Young Burmese pythons become reproductively mature at around 3 years of age.
Important reasons for the decline of Burmese pythons are trade for skins and for food, harvesting for traditional medicine and for the international pet trade. They also suffer from habitat degradation.
The IUCN Red List and other sources don’t provide the number of the Burmese python total population size. Currently, this species is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are decreasing.
Burmese pythons are often found near human habitation due to the presence of rats, mice, and other vermin as a food source. This way they play a very useful role in prey regulation amongst rodents.