Stimson’s python (Antaresia stimsoni)

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Stimson’s python, female

Top facts

  • Stimson’s python is one of Australia’s smallest python species.
  • Large, dark blotches along its back give Stimson’s python its alternative name of ‘large-blotched python’.
  • Like other pythons, Stimson’s python is non-venomous, instead killing its prey by constriction.
  • The female Stimson’s python is likely to show an unusual level of maternal care for a snake, coiling around the eggs and guarding them until they hatch.
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Stimson’s python fact file

Stimson’s python description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
FamilyBoidae
GenusAntaresia (1)

Stimson’s python (Antaresia stimsoni) is a small, nocturnal snake from arid parts of Australia (3) (5). One of Australia’s smallest pythons, it is recognised by the pattern of large, dark blotches along its body, which give it the alternative name of ‘large-blotched python’ (2).

The background colour of Stimson’s python is usually yellow, reddish or light brown, while the dark blotches are brown to reddish-brown and may sometimes be fused to form bars (2) (5). A conspicuous pale line runs along the side of the body, being particularly distinct towards the head (5). Like other python species, Stimson’s python has minute, vestigial hind limbs (5) (6), a muscular body and long, curved teeth (5). This species has a higher number of teeth than almost any other python species (7).

The male and female Stimson’s python are similar in size (3). Two subspecies of Stimson’s python are generally recognised, Antaresia stimsoni stimsoni and Antaresia stimsoni orientalis (5) (8), which are separated mainly by body size and by characteristics of their scales (2).

Also known as
large-blotched python.
Synonyms
Antaresia saxacola, Liasis stimsoni.
Size
Total length: up to 150 cm (2)
Snout-vent length: up to 105 cm (3)
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Stimson’s python biology

Like other pythons, Stimson’s python is non-venomous and kills its prey by constricting it with its powerful body (5) (6). The diet of this species includes a range of small mammals, birds, lizards and sometimes frogs (2) (3) (5), and heat-sensitive pits in the scales around its mouth help it to detect warm-blooded prey (2) (5) (6).

Although it is usually found on the ground, Stimson’s python is quite agile and is able to climb well (2). This small python copes with the extreme weather conditions in its habitat by remaining active over a wide range of air temperatures, ceasing its activity only during the coldest months of the year. It is most active after rainfall, when relative humidity is high and prey species such as frogs are likely to be abundant (3).

Like other pythons, Stimson’s python lays eggs (2) (5) (6) (8). The clutch size of this species is reported to range from 6 to 15 eggs (2), and as in other pythons it is likely that the female Stimson’s python shows an unusual level of maternal care, coiling around the eggs and guarding them until they hatch (5) (6).

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Stimson’s python range

Stimson’s python is the most widely distributed Antaresia species in Australia (2), occurring in all mainland States except Victoria (2) (5) (8).

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Stimson’s python habitat

Stimson’s python is typically found in arid and semi-arid areas, including shrubland, woodland, savanna and rocky outcrops (2) (3) (5). However, it is not thought to inhabit extreme desert (2).

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Stimson’s python status

Stimson’s python has yet to be classified by the IUCN, but is listed on Appendix II of CITES (4).

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Stimson’s python threats

There are not known to be any major threats to this widespread snake. Antaresia species, collectively known as “Children’s pythons” after the English naturalist John G. Children, have often been kept and bred in captivity (2), but little information is available on the potential impacts of this on the wild population of Stimson’s python.

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Stimson’s python conservation

Stimson’s python is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), meaning that any international trade in this small python should be carefully monitored (4).

No other specific conservation measures are currently known to be in place for this Australian snake.

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Find out more

Find out more about Stimson’s python and about reptile conservation:

More information on conservation in Australia:

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Authentication

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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Glossary

Nocturnal
Active at night.
Subspecies
A population usually restricted to a geographical area that differs from other populations of the same species, but not to the extent of being classified as a separate species.
Vestigial
Describing a structure or organ that has diminished in size, through evolution, to the point where it no longer functions. Only traces may remain.
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References

  1. Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) (August, 2012)
    http://www.itis.gov/
  2. O’Shea, M. (2007) Boas and Pythons of the World. New Holland Publishers, London.
  3. McDonald, P.J., Luck, G.W., Wassens, S. and Pavey, C.R. (2011) Ecology of Stimson’s python (Antaresia stimsoni) in the MacDonnell Ranges of central Australia. Australian Journal of Zoology, 59: 95-102.
  4. CITES (August, 2012)
    http://www.cites.org/
  5. Wilson, S. (2005) A Field Guide to Reptiles of Queensland. Reed New Holland, Sydney.
  6. Halliday, T. and Adler, K. (2002) The New Encyclopedia of Reptiles and Amphibians. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
  7. Bartlett, P.P. and Wagner, E. (1997) Pythons: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual. Barron’s Educational Series, Inc., New York.
  8. The Reptile Database (August, 2012)
    http://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/search.php
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Stimson’s python, female  
Stimson’s python, female

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