He'll Slither His Way Into Your Heart
Is there something slithering in your backyard, or have you seen a tail sliding away into the bushes? While there are some snakes you should stay away from, there are plenty of non-venomous ones too. If you live in northern Australia, you might come across the Children’s Python this month.
This python buddy is a fairly common sight in Darwin and nearby towns and they are nothing to be afraid of. The gentle nature of a Children’s Python makes them hard not to like, and like all pythons, they don’t produce any toxic venom. When the Children’s Python is catching its prey, it relies on its powerful constricting muscles to squeeze the air out of its dinner, instead of using venom.
These friendly little creatures only grow to 1 metre long, making them the second smallest Python in the world. It also makes them one of the daintiest of Australian snakes. Their scales have an iridescent sheen in certain light, adding to their beauty.
Now is a good time to spot the Children’s Python. Their mating season is beginning this month and will last until August. Keep an eye out as you may see rival male Children’s Pythons wrestling in the dust. These guys are fighting for the right to mate with the local females.
AOnce the mum has mated, she will lay 2-20 eggs later in the year. She sticks her little white eggs together in a clump and then curls protectively around them to keep them warm and scare off predators.
These little Trouble Makers aren’t as scary as you may initially think so if you’re lucky enough to have one in your area, be glad that he is safely guarding your house from other pesky animals.
The Children’s Python loves to eat most small animals including lizards, frogs, small mammals and even birds. They can be a big help if you feel you have too many mice or rats in your backyard.
To keep the Children’s Python as your free pest controller, avoid using rat poison in or around your house. Otherwise snakes will eat the poisoned rats and absorb the poison too. Rat poison can kill not only rats but snakes and other animals too.
These guys often hunt at night and instead of relying just on their eyes, they also have a heat-sensing lip that allows them to ‘see’ their warm-blooded prey. The senses on their lower jaw, work in a similar way to infra-red cameras that can detect heat. This adaptation helps the Children’s Python find their prey in the dark and gives them the element of surprise.
The Children’s Python is a very clever buddy and has developed some interesting techniques and behaviours. One of its favourite foods are bats, but bats can be tricky to catch. Unlike the Children’s Python, bats are very fast fliers. In order to catch their food, the Python hangs down at a cave entrance and snatches a flying bat from mid-air! Click to watch David Attenborough discuss this ability in a similar species.
You can also see this snake right across Australia, but usually behind glass as they are a favourite pet for snake lovers. These snakes are usually very chilled out, which is why they are often kept as pets by people all over the world. If you think a Children’s Python would make a great pet, make sure to check the licensing rules as they are different state to state. Remember it’s illegal and dangerous to just take one from the wild. Click to watch a clip about keeping them as pets.
DID YOU KNOW?
The name, Children’s Python, could imply they are suitable for children but it is actually to do with the zoologist who named them. When John Edward Gray was naming and classifying the Children’s Python, he decided to name them after his friend John George Children.
If you see a Children’s Python or another snake, make sure you leave it where it is as you don’t want to get a bite! It’s best to quietly admire them from a safe distance. Avoid trying to catch, move, or kill snakes you see around your backyard, as this is when accidents happen. Your local council may be able to recommend a snake catcher to remove a snake if it doesn’t go away by itself, as they usually do.