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Ranthambore National Park, India

(Python molurus)

IUCN status : Near Threatened

Indian Rock Pythons are the third largest snakes in the world after Anacondas and Reticulated Pythons. Adults can grow up to 20 feet and weigh up to 60 Kgs. Their average lifespan is 20-30 years.

They belong to the constrictor family of snakes, meaning they squeeze their prey and suffocate them rather than using poison to kill or disable them. Just because they don’t have poison doesn’t mean they can’t bite. Indian pythons have two rows of very sharp teeth angled toward the throat that can deliver a painful bite. Constrictors are different from other snakes because they have two lungs instead of the one, common in other species.

It lives near water in areas that offer plenty of cover. This snake typically hunts at night using a combination of heat sensors and chemical receptors to pinpoint and identify target animals. An Indian python most often preys on birds or small mammals, grabbing the animal and holding it with its sharp teeth as it wraps its coils around. The snake then squeezes tightly until the prey dies, after which it swallows the creature whole. It may go weeks or even months between meals. Their diet mainly comprises of rats, deer, pigs and birds.

A female Indian python lays anywhere from 20 to 100 eggs about three months after breeding. She keeps them all together. When she is done laying, she curls herself around her brood to protect them for two to three months before they are hatched. During this time she rarely leaves them and continually twitches her muscles to generate a few degrees of warmth for her young. The babies hatch fully formed from the leathery eggs and leave the nest almost immediately to strike out on their own.

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