Morelia spilota

Morelia spilota

''Morelia spilota'' is a large snake of the Pythonidae family found in Australia, Indonesia and New Guinea. There are 6 subspecies listed by ITIS, commonly referred to as Carpet and Diamond pythons.
Carpet Python (Morelia spilota) Active Carpet Python at the OlieMeulen reptile centre, the Netherlands. Geotagged,Morelia spilota,Oliemeulen,Snakes,The Netherlands,reptiles

Appearance

A large python in the ''Morelia'' genus, reaching between 2 to 4 metres in length and weighing up to 15 kg. ''M. s. mcdowelli'' is the largest form, regularly attaining lengths of 2.7–3 m . ''M. s. variegata'' is the smallest, averaging of 120–180 cm feet in length. The average adult length is roughly 2 m . However, one 3-year-old captive male ''M. s. mcdowelli'', measured in Ireland, was found to exceed 396 cm . Males are typically smaller than females, in some regions females are up to four times heavier. The head is triangular with a conspicuous row of thermoreceptive labial pits.

The colouring of ''Morelia spilota spilota'' is highly variable, olive to black with white or cream and gold markings. The patterning may be roughly diamond shaped or have intricate markings made up of light and dark bands on a background of gray or a version of brown.

The species are oviparous, with females laying 10-50 eggs at a time. Afterwards, females coil around the eggs to protect them and keep them warm through using muscular contractions to generate heat. This type of maternal care, which is typical for pythons, ceases once the hatchlings have emerged.
Carpet Python (Morelia spilota) A rolled up Carpet Python at the OlieMeulen reptile centre, the Netherlands. Geotagged,Morelia spilota,Oliemeulen,Snakes,The Netherlands,reptiles

Naming

The geographic distribution and common names can summarised as follows:
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The first description of ''Morelia spilota'' was by Lacepede , who placed it in the genus ''Coluber'' as ''Coluber spilotus''. The species has since been described by various authors as containing a number of subspecies and hybrids, these have also been known by various informal names. The attempted arrangement of taxa in this, and other, Australasian Pythonidae has produced numerous synonyms. The discrete and roaming habits of this species have produced a low number of recorded specimens, giving inadequate sample numbers to support descriptions of a taxon's morphology. This is the case with proposed names which are sometimes cited, such as the Papuan ''Morelia spilota harrisoni'' , despite being unaccepted or invalid. Common names are regional variants of Carpet and Diamond Python, or Snake. The database ITIS lists six subspecies with valid names, these may be summarised as follows:

⟶ ''Morelia'' Gray, 1842
─⟶ ''Morelia amethistina''
─⟶ ''Morelia boeleni''
─⟶ ''Morelia bredli''
─⟶ ''Morelia carinata''
─⟶ ''Morelia oenpelliensis''
─⟶ ''Morelia spilota''
──⟶ ''Morelia spilota cheynei''
──⟶ ''Morelia spilota imbricata''
──⟶ ''Morelia spilota mcdowelli''
──⟶ ''Morelia spilota metcalfei''
──⟶ ''Morelia spilota spilota''
──⟶ ''Morelia spilota variegata''
─⟶ ''Morelia viridis''

Early descriptions placed this species in other genera, ''Coluber'' or ''Python'', and ''Morelia argus'' is a synonym for this species. The following is an incomplete list of synonyms:
⤷  [''Coluber''] ''Arges'' - Linnaeus, 1758
⤷  [''Coluber''] ''Argus'' - Linnaeus, 1766
⤷  ''Coluber spilotus'' - Lacépède, 1804
⤷  [''Python''] ''punctatus'' - Merrem, 1820
⤷  [''Coluber'' ] ''Argus'' - Merrem, 1820
⤷  [''Vipera'' ] ''Spilotes'' - Merrem, 1820
⤷  ''Python Peronii'' - Wagler, 1828
⤷  ''Python spilotes'' - Gray ''In'' G. Grey, 1841
⤷  ''Morelia punctata'' - Gray, 1842
⤷  ''Morelia argus'' - A.M.C. Duméril & Bibron, 1844
⤷  ''Morelia spilotes'' - Gray, 1849
⤷  ''M''[''orelia'']. ''argus'' var. ''fasciolata'' - Jan ''In'' Jan & Sordelli, 1864
⤷  ''Python spilotes'' - Boulenger, 1893
⤷  [''Python spilotes spilotes''] - Werner, 1909
⤷  ''Python spilotes macrospila'' - Werner, 1909
⤷  ''Morelia argus'' - Loveridge, 1934
⤷  ''Morelia argus'' - Stull, 1935
⤷  ''Morelia spilotes spilotes'' - Worrell, 1961
⤷  ''Morelia argus argus'' - Stimson, 1969
⤷  ''Python spilotes'' - McDowell, 1975
⤷  [''Python spilotus spilotus''] - L.A. Smith, 1891
⤷  ''Morelia spilota'' - Cogger, Cameron & Cogger, 1983
⤷  ''Morelia spilota'' - Underwood & Stimson, 1990
⤷  ''Morelia spilota spilota'' - Barker & Barker, 1994

Status

The nominate subspecies, ''Morelia spilota spilota'', is listed as threatened with extinction in Victoria. The subspecies ''M. spilota imbricata'' is regarded as near threatened in Western Australia, due to loss of habitat.

Behavior

Described as semi-arboreal, they are largely nocturnal, climbing trees and shrubs as well as crossing open areas such as rock faces, forest floors and even roads. However, basking behaviour is commonly observed.

The diet consists mainly of small mammals, bats, birds and lizards. ''Morelia spilota'' kills their prey by constricting it until it suffocates. They are often the largest predator in their ecological community.

Habitat

Occurs in a wide variety of habitats, from the rainforests of northeastern Queensland through the River Red Gum/Riverbox woodlands of the Murray and Darling Rivers , to the arid, treeless islands of the Nuyts Archipelago off the South Australian west coast . Often found near human habitation where they perform a useful service by eating rats and other vermin. ''M. s. spilota'' is even know to occur in areas that receive snowfall. ''Morelia spilota'' are tree snakes, they do not completely rely on trees, however, and are capable of moving around elsewhere. Carpet pythons are also found in temperate grasslands with hot and dry weather.

References:

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Taxonomy
KingdomAnimalia
DivisionChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyPythonidae
GenusMorelia
SpeciesM. spilota