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Rough Scaled Pythons
Rough Scaled Python at Melbourne Zoo
Discovery & Description
In 1976, the rough-scaled python, Morelia carinata, was discovered in the remote North West of Western Australia. It was years before a second specimen was found, near the lower sections of the Hunter and Mitchell rivers. Only a few have been taken from the wild to date.
The snake is distinct from other pythons because the each scale has a ridge on it, giving a rough feel to the skin.
The head is quite large, compared to the neck, which is very narrow, and this snake is reputed to have the largest teeth, for its size, of any known snake. The body is slim and muscular, and the tail is prehensile. An adult is thought to grow to about 2 metres (6.5 feet) in length.
In colouration, the python is dark brown and has paler blotches, although towards the tail this colouring may appear to be reversed. The eyes are bluish.
Morelia carinata has a very restricted area of distribution, as can be seen from the map above. It is only found in tiny areas of rainforest in the tropics of Kimberley, Western Australia. It may also be found on Bigge Island, W.A.
They seem to prefer rocky valleys, where there are trees and shrubs. These pythons also like sandstone crevices, where they can hide, and also search for prey.
Head of Morelia carinata
What Rough Scaled Pythons Eat
Food in the Wild
Food in Captivity
Not known but thought to be small mammals
Rats and Mice
Possibly roosting birds
Rough Scaled Pythons in Captivity
Shortly after they were discovered, permits were issued to John Weigel of the Australian Reptile Park, to capture a pair of these pythons. Although they are quite difficult to find, a pair was taken, and they were discovered to breed quite well in captivity.
These reptiles are now available to private keepers in Australia and overseas, because of the dedication of John Weigel, and the Australian Reptile Park. Several pairs have been exported, and the snakes are able to be kept in a few other countries.
Melbourne Zoo has these snakes in its collection, as do other zoos in Australia and around the world. Recently Los Angeles Zoo exchanged Komodo dragons for some Australian animals, including these pythons.
Have you ever seen a python in the wild?
Pythons of Australia
Snake On A Rock
Los Angeles Zoo's PythonsClick thumbnail to view full-size
Although not a lot is known about the biology of these animals in the wild, they usually breed in the months of July and August, in the dry season.
The female python will lay approximately ten eggs, and like other pythons, she will coil around them to protect them and keep them at a constant temperature. When the eggs hatch, the female will leave, and will take no further care of them.
The hatchlings are prey to other animals, and probably not many survive to adulthood. They will not eat until they have shed their skins for the first time, at about a week old.