Angolan Python

STATUSLeast Concern


DIETSmall mammals, birds, insects

RANGESouthwest Africa from Angola to Namibia

HABITATShrubland, rocky areas, grassland

Angolan Python

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Program and General Information
Depending on the source – Pythons are sometimes considered a sub-family of Boas (Boidae). Pythons are distinguishable from boas in that they have teeth on the premaxilla, a small bone at the very front and center of the upper jaw. Also most boas produce live young, while pythons produce eggs. Some species of sand boas (Ericinae) are also called pythons.

Angolan pythons are a non-venomous constrictor species. They are very adept hunters and have the ability to sense even the slightest temperature change (as little as 3/1000ths of a degree change). , which makes them hypersensitive to any warm blooded creatures close by. They have special pits above their mouth that detect the heat. And like other snakes they have the Jacobson’s organ in their mouth for smelling. These adaptations help to make them very successful nocturnal hunters even though they have poor eyesight.

Common Physical Features
Angolan pythons are Reddish-brown to brown (almost black), overlaid with irregular white or cream bands and spots. Belly is yellowish. Head is covered by a large, reddish-brown triangular marking bordered on the sides by creamy white, black-edged bands. These colors form a type of camouflage called countershading where the upper side is dark in color and the underside is light in color. Angolan pythons have five heat sensitive pits on either side of their face allowing them to sense the heat of their prey. Their beaded scales help to retain moisture in a dry environment. Adults range in length from 3 to 6 feet.

Habitat and Global Range
Angolan pythons are found in Southwest Africa from Southern Angola to Namibia. These snakes live in the scrublands, grasslands, and rocky areas limited to elevations between 2460 and 5250 feet above sea level.

Carnivorous: small mammals, birds, amphibians, and insects.

Behavior and Life Cycle
Angolan pythons are oviparous, laying small clutches of 4-5 eggs. It is not known whether or not the females incubate the eggs as other pythons do. The eggs hatch after about 70 days. Hatchlings are 17-18 inches long. Not much is known about these snakes. Being found in such a small geographic area, generally away from human habitation, they have rarely been seen let alone studied.

Pythons and Boas, including angolan pythons, have anal spurs, appearing on each side of the vent. These spurs are important for the mating process, aiding the snakes in clasping onto their mate. The spurs on males are generally longer than those on females.

Fun Facts

  • Angolan pythons are one of the rarest snake species in Africa.
  • Ecological Role of Reptiles: Snakes play an important role as both prey and predator in ecosystems all over the world. They can be very important in regulating the populations of pest species such as rodents which are common around human activity.
  • They have beaded scales to help retain moisture.
  • The Angolan python (like other snakes) does not have moveable eyelids. It has a special clear scale that covers the eyes so that it always appears to be awake. Not having eyelids allows the Angolan python to refrain from blinking. Not blinking helps the snake keep its cover when it is camouflaged.
  • Angolan pythons are the national snake of Namibia.
  • They can withstand extreme temperatures as high as 122 degrees Fahrenheit and as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Conservation Messaging
Although the habitat of the angolan python resides mostly on protected land, they face threats from the exotic pet trade. Don’t buy pets if you don’t know where they are from – ongoing trade in reptile products has a huge effect on the numbers of valuable species in the wild. Even buying tropical species from legal sources increases demand and encourages illegal trading.
What we can do: It is important to do research on any potential pet before purchasing. Many people do not realize the necessary care needed before bringing a pet into their home. Be sure to purchase pets from a reliable source and never take animals from the wild.

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