ClimateWatch

An initiative of Earthwatch Institute

  1. Morelia_spilota_flickr_magdalena_b_20.08.2011 Morelia spilota Flickr magdalena_b 20.08.2011
  2. Morelia_spilota_flickr_teejaybee_13.09.2008 Morelia spilota Flickr teejaybee 13.09.2008
  3. Morelia_spilota_variegata_from_northern_territory__c__stephen_zozaya Morelia spilota variegata from Northern Territory (c) Stephen Zozaya
  4. M_s_cheynei__c__stephen_zozaya M_s_cheynei (c) Stephen Zozaya
  5. M_s_mcdowelli_1__c__stephen_zozaya M_s_mcdowelli_1 (c) Stephen Zozaya
  6. M_s_mcdowelli_2__c__stephen_zozaya M_s_mcdowelli_2 (c) Stephen Zozaya
  7. M_s_mcdowelli_3__c__stephen_zozaya M_s_mcdowelli_3 (c) Stephen Zozaya

Carpet Python

Morelia spilota

Appearance

Carpet pythons are extremely variable in colour and pattern (often have pale, dark-edged blotches, stripes or cross bands). Seven geographical subspecies are recognised as carpet pythons are extremely diverse in appearance. The NT form, Morelia spilota variegata, is different from the other subspecies because it is a beige or brown colour with blackish or grey blotches and bright gold, yellow and rust colour forms in regional areas. This subspecies is about 2.5m long on average.

They have row of deep pits run along the lower jaw, and small scales present on the top of the head. This species can grow greater than 3 metres in length, and although non-venomous, they possess powerful jaws and constricting capability.

Females lay a clutch of 10 to 45 eggs in early summer, concealing them in sheltered sites like hollow stumps or depressions in the ground. Eggs are white and elongated with a dry skin-like shell.

Behaviour

Active during the day and night, often seen on the ground, in trees or buildings! Often seen on Top End roads at night especially in the Wet season (October-May). They feed on frogs, lizards, birds and mammals, and can often be encountered near chicken pens or barns. Breeding occurs in the early summer, with 10-47 eggs laid in a sheltered site. The female will leave the nest to absorb heat and return to incubate the eggs in her pre-heated state

What to Observe

  • Presence

  • Courting/Mating

  • Feeding

  • Eggs

ClimateWatch Science Advisor

Reptiles are expected to start basking, mating and reproducing earlier in the year as a result of climate change warming the Earth. Species may move into regions that were previously too cold to inhabit.

Help scientists answer the question: "How are our animals, plants and ecosystems responding to climate change?"

When To Look

All year round. Look during the day when the sun is out to catch them basking. Breeding occurs in the summer.

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes in the timing of these events so remember to keep a lookout all year!

Where To Look

Open forests, rainforests, coastal heaths, rural lands, park lands and suburban gardens. Carpet pythons are found throughout Australia, except the arid center, western and southern regions.

Note: ClimateWatch is looking for any changes outside of their known ranges so remember to keep a lookout beyond these regions too!

Sightings

The map below displays the accumulated observations of these species as reported by ClimateWatch observers, together with the layer showing how the range of the species might change between now and 2085, with orange areas indicating where the species might disappear, and green areas where the species range might expand.

References

  • Queensland Government, Queensland Museum Network
  • International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017-3
  • Experts consulted: ClimateWatch Science Advisory Panel

Links

  1. Search Species

  1. What Else?

    Similar to the Spotted Python, which is fawn to brown with irregular, dark purplish-brown blotches. Adult Spotted Pythons are much smaller (100-140cm) and have 3 scales across the top of the head in a straight line between the eyes.

    In Northern Territory:

    Children’s python – similar markings but significantly smaller (75cm)

    Banded tree snake (Night tiger) distinctive brown/red bands (hence “tiger”), slender body with bulging eyes. Mildly venomous

    Black headed python – distinctive banded pattern and black head

    In Queensland: Amethystine Python (Scrub Python) have larger scales on their head and and an iridescent purple sheen Spotted Python are much smaller (100 – 140 cm) and have three scales across the top of their head in a straight line between the eyes.

  1. Did You Know?

    • Seven geographical subspecies are recognised as carpet pythons are extremely diverse in appearance!
    • The biggest threat posed to the NT carpet python is cane toads. If carpet pythons are exposed to the cane toad toxin, they die very quickly. It is possible that soon cane toads will threaten the population of carpet pythons in the NT. (https://nt.gov.au/environment/animals/wildlife-in-nt/carpet-python)