These non-venomous snakes live exclusively in Australia where they inhabit many different ecosystems. They live in burrows, which provide them with both shelter from predators and unfavourable weather conditions. Due to their nocturnal lifestyle they are rarely seen by humans, although thanks to their undoubtedly interesting beauty they can be found in trade. Fortunately, most of the specimens available in shops come from breeding and not from the wild.
Those snakes occupy one-third of the Australian continent, precisely, its northern part from west to east.
Black headed pythons favor dry and scrubby areas but they are not found in extremely dry places.
They can be found across semiarid regions as well as at savannas or grasslands. Can be found also in humid forested areas and agricultural regions.
Typical adult individual measures from 1,5 to 2 meters in length. Females are slightly larger than males.
The largest specimens may reach 3,5 meters total body length. Adults weigh about 16 kilograms on average. Their head is blunt and reduced, adapted to digging in the ground. Rest of the body is typical to constricting snakes.
Their most distinctive feature is a glossy black head.
The rest of the body may be yellow, light or dark brown. It is covered with irregular stripes that vary in shade. The dark stripes merge on the upper side of the body to form a set of stripes running perpendicular to the body. The underside of the body may be white or pink with dark spots. Skin coloration is conditioned by geographic locations. Eastern populations tend to be paler with a reddish tint while northern and eastern ones darker and brown with more noticeable stripes.
Skin coloration may change with age.
Older snakes are paler with less visible stripes. Juveniles on the other hand may have dark coloration reaching further parts of the body.
Their black-colored heads play an important role in thermoregulation.
As an ectothermic animal, pythons need to bask in the sun to warm their bodies. Black head allows them to absorb sun energy quicker.
They are terrestrial snakes, which seek shelter in self-dug or abandoned burrows.
They spend most of the day hidden in a burrow, sticking their heads out to warm their bodies. They may also use burrows to cool their bodies.
Although this is not their natural habitat, they can also be found in trees.
They are good climbers although they do not often use this ability.
Black-headed pythons are carnivorous.
They feed chiefly on other reptiles. Their preferred food are skinks, but they are also capable of eating other snakes, geckos and bearded dragons. Occasionally they will catch birds or mammals, but these animals never make up their main diet.
Black-headed pythons are nocturnal animals.
Thanks to the warm climate and ability to accumulate energy from their surroundings, they can hunt at night, which helps them avoid potential predators.
They are rather docile and do not often bite.
When threatened, black-headed pythons may hiss and strike an opponent with their head. They rarely bite limiting themselves to head butts with their snouts closed. These snakes have not been found to pose any danger to humans.
They are not venomous and have strong toxin immunity.
Although they do not possess venom glands, they are immune to most toxins of other Australian reptiles. This immunity allows them to hunt other venomous snakes without worry. To subdue prey, they constrict it with a muscular body.
Mating season that takes place in October and November.
They usually form a monogamous pairs, but in some cases may seek for an extra partner. After copulation, which may last from a few dozen minutes to six hours, the female lays 8 to 18 eggs and hatch them afterward. The young emerge from the eggs after about 2 months and are completely independent from the first minutes of life.
Their life expectancy is between 20 and 30 years.
Due to the lack of many natural enemies, life expectancy in the wild and in captivity does not vary much.
They reach sexual maturity at the age of 4 to 5 years.
Their lifestyle has a beneficial effect on the environment.
The burrows they create then become a shelter for other animal species.
Except for humans and dingoes, they do not have many enemies.
However, this does not apply to juveniles, which can fall prey to larger predators.
Black-headed pythons are not an endangered species.
IUCN classifies those reptiles as least concern (LC). The exact population size is not known but they are often found in their environment, which may indicate their high abundance.