python (pĪˈthŏn) [key], name for nonvenomous constrictor snakes of the boa family, found in the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, Australia, and the S Pacific islands. Pythons climb and swim expertly. They kill the birds and mammals on which they feed by squeezing them in their coils. Unlike boas, pythons are egg layers. The female coils her body over the eggs for the six to eight week incubation period. The reticulated, or royal, python, Python reticulatus, of SE Asia, Indonesia, and the Philippines is one of the largest snakes in the world and may reach a length of 30 ft (9 m) or more. It is often found in towns as well as in the forest. The Burmese python, P. molurus bivittatus, native to S and SE Asia but often kept as pets, may reach 19 ft (6 m) in length. Released into the wild in S Florida, it has become an invasive species in the Everglades. Pythons are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Reptilia, order Squamata, family Boidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.