Pythons in general are largish snakes, and they use their weight and strength to take prey. They have no venom because they don’t need any. A lot of people think pythons and constrictors crush their prey, but they don’t. They just hold on very tight. When the small wallaby, or your nephew Perry, breathes out, the snake simply tightens. It doesn’t need to crush. It just needs to take up the room you just gave it. With the lungs empty and the snake in position, it’s now impossible to inhale.
All that aside, Carpet Pythons are one of the most common snakes in Australia. They’re a routine part of life in the bush, and anyone who lives on a farm or large property has one or two. They’re not as often seen in cities, but they do have a knack for sneaking into birdcages, and then being unable to get back out, thanks to an exciting new bulge in their middle. Coming out to see your precious budgerigar has been replaced by a grumpy snake can be a little surprising.
Carpet Pythons are sluggish and placid creatures. If encountered in the wild, the safest thing to do is stand there and stare for a bit, or walk a bit closer to it and say loudly “Hey! Look! It’s a big snake! Bradley! Come check this thing out! Bring the kids.” Not a particularly threatening animal.
Carpet Pythons are usually welcome where they’re found. Except in little Pewtie’s now tweetless birdcage, of course. Despite being slow and clumsy looking they’re very effective predators of mice, rats, rabbits, and other pests. Also, sometimes pet cats.
They’re often doing dumb things like sunbathing on the road, and are routinely hit by cars. Sometimes these hits are deliberate, a lot of Aussies have the attitude “The only good snake is a dead snake”. Those people are idiots, and should be hit with sticks. If someone says that to you, find a stick immediately. It’s for the best.
These snakes are protected by law. All Australian reptiles are, from the smallest turtles to the most deadly Taipan, and killing them is thoroughly illegal. Recreational pet licenses are easy to get and these are not an uncommon Australian pet, though most recreational reptile owners prefer calmer, smaller snakes such as the Children’s Python. A snake that was discovered by a naturalist called Children. Seriously. That sounds like a joke, but it’s not.
A full-sized, healthy Carpet Python can grow up 4m long, and weigh up to 20kg.
Positive identification of this particular species can be determined by looking at it with your eyes. Between the markings and the big triangle head, they’re pretty distinctive. There are a couple of northern snakes such as the slightly bigger Scrub Python that look similar, but you’re still going to be in the right ballpark.
Australian Aboriginals historically were very fond of these. If encountered while walking they could be picked up and draped across the shoulders, to provide fresh meat when needed.