Albino Burmese Python

Category: Wildlife

Burmese pythons are among the largest species of snake in the entire world. They live in South and Southeast Asia in tropical environments, and make popular pets despite their large size. In the pet trade, they are often bred to showcase unique color patterns, including “albino”.

Albino Burmese Python

Albino Burmese Python

Scientific & Common Names

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Family: Pythonidae

Genus: Python

Species: P. bivittatus

Common Names: Burmese Python

Characteristics

The “albino” color morph of the Burmese python is popular among reptile enthusiasts. It features a cream colored body with yellow or orange blotches, as opposed to the snakes more natural dark brown coloration. Though it is commonly called albino, these pythons are more accurately called “amelanistic”, as they lack the pigment melanin. Most true albino organisms are all white with red eyes. Many mammals that only produce color through the pigment melanin can be both albino and amelanistic, but reptiles produce color through other pigments, so removing melanin still leaves the snake with yellowish and orange pigment.

Though captive breeders can selectively breed these snakes for size as well as color, in the wild the Burmese python can reach nearly 20 feet in length and weigh up to 200 lbs.

Breeding

Burmese pythons reproduce in spring. Females lay eggs and will stay with them until they hatch. After the babies are free from their eggs, the mother no longer takes care of them and they must fend for themselves.

Behavior

Pythons eat birds and mammals, using a process called constriction. They wrap their body around their prey and squeeze until the creature succumbs. Though it is often assumed that the prey suffocates or is crushed, the truth is that constriction cuts off the animal’s blood flow and the cause of its death is a lack of oxygen to its vital organs.

Pythons are nocturnal, meaning they hunt and are active primarily at night. They live in the rainforest and spend their life on the ground and in trees when younger and smaller, but prefer to dwell mainly on the ground as they increase in size.

History

Burmese pythons have a long history as pets, due to their relatively calm temperament. However, their growth rate and adult size is often underestimated, and they can outgrow many traditional enclosures and require specialized care. They can also potentially be dangerous, and may bite or constrict unwary handlers.

Present Status

Wild Burmese pythons are considered threatened and vulnerable. Populations are declining due to habitat destruction, as well as selling animals for their skin and as food.

As a non-native species, Burmese pythons are an invasive nuisance. Pet owners unprepared for the responsibility have been known to release snakes into the wild, where they can cause severe damage to native mammal populations.

A substantial population of freed pet snakes has become established in the Everglades National Park where they have cause great harm to local animal numbers. A study done in 2012 showed that many species including raccoons, possums and bobcats had been reduced by up to 99% in some cases, and other animals such as foxes and rabbits have all but disappeared.