Among the subspecies of the Indian Python, the Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) is the largest and is native throughout Southeast Asia, including Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and South China. This light-colored snake has many dark-brown blotches, bordered in black down the back. The attractiveness of its skin pattern adds to its popularity among reptile keepers, as well as in the leather industry.
Its color pattern is more or so similar to African Rock Python, but not in actuality, which sometimes results in confusion of the two species outside their natural habitats. The snake may grow up to 25 feet and weigh up to 400 pounds. These can be found in swamps, marshes, rocky foothills, grasslands, woodlands, jungles, and river valleys, without much endeavor.
These snakes are good swimmers and excellent climbers and have prehensile tails. In younger stage, they are equally comfortable in the trees, as well as on the ground. They possess the capacity to keep themselves submerged inside the water for up to half an hour. But, at later stage, they prefer staying on the ground, may be due to increased weight.
These diurnal rainforest dwellers mostly spend their morning hours, soaking up the sun's warmth to moderate their body temperature, and also helping their meal to digest. But, at night, they look around for their prey. In forests, they do not feed themselves every day; once devoured, they rest for days or a week. During cold season, they go into hibernation for few months in a hole in the riverbank, in a hollow tree or under rocks.
Due to their color, pattern, and size, they are very popular as pets. They have a wide variety; the albino form is most widely available morph and utmost popular. They are found white with patterns in burnt orange and butterscotch yellow. They have many small angular spots.
Breeders have recently found "Dwarf," which has an island lineage with Burmese Pythons, and have slightly different coloration and pattern, in comparison to mainland relatives. Besides this, their growth is not much over 7 feet (2.1 meters) long. Most sought-after among these variations is the leucistic Burmese due to its rarity. This snake has no pattern and is entirely bright white in color, with black eyes.
The snakes are carnivorous. Their diet includes a variety of prey in the wild such as lizards, amphibians, other snakes, mammals, and birds. Because vermin and rats act as a food source, they are often seen near human habitations. However, these domesticated mammals and birds can also be used as a pest for them.
The snake by its sharp, backward-pointed teeth seizes its prey, and then the prey is wrapped by its body and simultaneously contracts its muscles, thus killing the prey through asphyxiation. During the captivity, it mainly diets on rabbits, rats, and poultry. But, some larger varieties need goats or pigs to fulfill their larger food demands.
In early spring season, i.e., March or April, females lay eggs around 12 - 36 in a set. After encircling the eggs, the female remains with them until they are hatched. They do not leave the eggs or even eat during this period. The female's muscles twitch during incubation and thus, the ambient temperature rises to several degrees around the eggs. The hatchling starts living on their own as they cut their way out of the egg. In recent years, captive breeding has intensified, making the importation of wild caught specimens for the pet trade uncommon.
Due to their easy-going nature and attractive color, they are often sold as pets. Another cause of keeping them as pets is their allurement for folk medicines, which are extracted from their gall and blood, as well as supply for the international fashion industries with exotic skins. All these are putting additional pressures on the wild populations.
If a person decides to keep this snake, he should be careful about the enclosure. It should have most natural surroundings; this aid in the general condition of the species, as well as is more aesthetically pleasing. If the surrounding is liked by the snake, it will show better feeding response and grow faster. Natural products used in vivarium enhance its quality of life and prevents it from becoming overweight and lethargic.
Besides this, stronger snakes develop better resistance power against any viral infections. A vivarium of 3m length x 1.8m height x 1.5m width is ample for an adult python. Aquariums can be used for juvenile Burmese Pythons, but a specialized lid (cork bark) should be used, instead of original aquarium lid. These snakes are generally not worried about the size of their enclosure, but enjoy if better condition is available.