Southern African python Family boidae Python natalensis This heavily built snake grows to 4-5m in southern Africa but can get to 6m further north. Cryptic markings in brown, grey and black throughout the back whilst the belly is a dirty white. There is a spear-shaped brown marking on the head. Nocturnal but sometimes moves around during the day.
Food: They eat various mammals up to impala size; other prey includes small crocodiles, monitor lizards and birds.
Habitat: These snakes are found in many different habitats however, in Botswana, it is confined to the Delta, the Chobe/Zambezi valleys and the Gaberone-Tuli region. Small pythons live on the ground; later becoming arboreal and, when they reach 1.5m, they become too large to hunt in trees.
Reproduction: she chooses an underground cavity (frequently a burrow or termite mound) where she lays up to 100 eggs; the eggs can take 3 months to incubate during this period she coils herself around the eggs and only leaves the nest to bask in the sun or drink before returning (she does not eat during incubation).
Venom: pythons do not have venom glands; their prey is caught in the wide jaws and held by the many re-curved teeth whilst the body is coiled around the victim. The constricting by this reptile causes heart failure. Although not venomous these snakes do occasionally constrict humans and try to consume them. Usually the python is unable to swallow humans due to the unusually sudden broadening from the neck to the shoulders of humans.