The black-headed python can survive in wide range of climates and conditions, with the exception of the most dry and arid environments. The species prefers habitats like savannas and dry scrublands, but they are also found in forests or agricultural farmland.
The black-headed python are nocturnal animals and have adapted themselves for surviving in the hot and dry conditions of their habitats. In colder temperatures, they will use termite nests to burrow, if available, as a way of stabilising their body temperature.
Their characteristic shiny black head is also used regulate it's body temperature, they can extend only their head outside its burrow while most of the body remains covered. On the other hand if they need to cool down the black-headed python may bury their black head in the sand. These pythons don't have heat sensing pits like other python species, which are used for tracking endothermic prey detecting even the smallest temperature changes.
Their distinctive black color is present in the head but also runs down the neck for about 20 scales, and in juvenile snakes it can extend even further to ventral scales.
The colour of the body varies from brownish, yellow to a reddish tan, normally with some irregular dark brown bands. The black-headed python color vary extensively depending on geographic location and age.
The black-headed python average length ranges from 5 to 6,5 ft (1.5 to 2 m) females grow longer than males. They have a cylindrical and slender body and adult specimens weigh 16 kg on average.
The species is also known as black-headed rock python or simply rock python, but it's not to be confused with the african rock python. Other common names include Terry tar pot or tar pot, because of their distinctive black head, giving it the appearance that it was dipped in tar or black ink. The Pilbara region Nyangumarta aboriginals use the name "Purruyura" for the species.
There are no subspecies are currently recognized by scientists for the black-headed python.
Diet / Feeding
The black-headed python feeds primarily on other reptiles, mostly skinks but also bearded dragons, geckos, legless lizards even the Perentie which is Australia's largest monitor lizard.
Other smaller snakes, including some of the most venomous snakes in the world are also eaten by the black-headed python, since they are completely immune to their highly toxic venom. They will on rare occasions also eat mammals or even birds.
Since the black-headed python is a non-venomous snake it uses constriction to subdue and kill the prey before consuming it whole.
The black-headed python is monogamous, but sometimes males and females may engage in extra-pair copulations. Like other python species the black-headed python is oviparous.
Females lay their eggs during October and November and incubate them by coiling around them for approximately 2 months before they hatch. Although the males aren't as aggressive as most python species mating and courtship it sometimes involves ritualistic combats or biting.
Some captive snakes have been bred as young as two and half years but in the wild these snakes reach sexual maturity at the age of 4 to 5 years. The hatchlings are on average 2 ft (60 cm) in length at birth and capable of fending for themselves immediately.
Conservation / Threats
The black-headed python has not been evaluated by the IUCN and there is a lack of available information with regards to their population trends. But the species is considered widespread and abundant throughout their range.
One potential threat to these snakes like many others is the exotic pet trade, but since the majority of individuals found in the pet trade are captive bred, the risk is low. The sales of black-headed pythons as pets or for breeding purposes has become relatively common in northern Australia.
Did You Know?
Found in South America the green anaconda is, considered the largest snake in the world.