The Olive Python is a species of snake native to parts of Africa and Asia. It’s one of the longest pythons in the world and can be found in places such as India, Burma, and South Africa.
There are several different subspecies of the Olive Python, including the Burmese Python, Indian Python, and African Rock Python, each of which has slightly different characteristics and temperaments.
Fortunately, regardless of its subspecies, the Olive Python is an easy-to-care-for python species that are commonly recommended for both beginner snake owners and advanced hobbyists alike.
History and Biology
Olive pythons, also known as Stromberg’s pythons, are native to Western Australia. They are medium-sized snakes (typically 20 to 30 inches long), and they can be either gray or green in color.
Olive pythons rarely bite humans but do have a strong venom that can cause paralysis. These pythons generally eat small mammals, birds, and eggs; it is possible for them to take down prey up to four times their size. Like most pythons, olive pythons lay eggs.
Female olive pythons produce between eight and 25 eggs per clutch. When hatched, young olive python hatchlings will measure between six and eight inches long. Unlike many other snake species, female olive pythons do not protect their nests from predators.
Instead, these snakes abandon their nests after laying eggs and typically mate again during each breeding season. Male olive pythons actively defend territories from other males during mating season.
Olive pythons are found in tropical forests and rainforests, primarily on islands. You’ll typically find them in mountainous regions of Southeast Asia, including Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam.
These snakes aren’t typically found in heavily-populated areas or jungles with large human populations. Olive pythons tend to be nocturnal creatures that stay hidden during the day; at night they forage for food. They also prefer to live near water sources like lakes and streams.
Adult olive pythons can weigh anywhere from 65 pounds to 100 pounds! Because these snakes are fairly reclusive and not often seen by humans, there is a great deal of confusion about their size. Most people assume that olive pythons must be much larger than they actually are because they don’t see them very often.
It’s important to remember that just because you don’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there! In fact, many people who do come across an olive python will likely mistake it for a tree branch or vine.
Olive pythons are medium-sized species of python, growing to an average length of 3.2 meters. They are mostly green in color with darker olive green markings along their backs and sides.
Their bellies are usually white with orange flecks throughout, which is used for thermoregulation and camouflage in tall grasses. When threatened or hungry, Olive Pythons can sometimes release a foul-smelling musk from their anal glands as a form of defense.
This musk smells like rancid fish and has been known to cause nausea in some people. This species is oviparous, meaning they lay eggs that hatch outside of their bodies. In captivity, females lay 5-8 eggs at a time after a 60-90 day incubation period.
Lifespan and Reproduction
Olive pythons are long-lived snakes. Their average lifespan is anywhere from 20 to 25 years, but they’ve been known to live into their late 30s. They reproduce regularly throughout their life and can have multiple clutches in a single year.
It’s not uncommon for an olive python to have laid more than 100 eggs in its lifetime. Eggs incubate at approximately 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Hatching occurs after approximately 60 days of incubation.
Babies measure around 18 inches at birth and grow quickly over their first few months of life before reaching sexual maturity at around three years old.
Females tend to be larger than males, measuring up to 8 feet long as adults. Males typically reach only 6 feet in length by adulthood.
Behavior and Handling/Interaction with Humans
Olive pythons (Brachypython olivaceus) are considered a communal species, meaning they do not interact with humans as much as other reptiles. Communal species tend to be on their own but will still be friendly and enjoy being handled by people they know.
Other communal species include corn snakes, ball pythons, king snakes, rat snakes, and gopher snakes. Olive pythons can be great for first-time reptile owners and will often accept handling if properly introduced to them early in life.
If you’re unsure about how an olive python will react to being held, handle it slowly at first and gauge its reaction.
Olive pythons are very fast-growing snakes, meaning they need frequent meals in order to grow properly. A juvenile olive python should eat every 10-14 days and an adult should eat every 7-10 days.
Juveniles should consume at least 1 rat per feeding and adults will require a larger meal such as a small to medium-sized rabbit or guinea pig per feeding.
In addition to regular feedings, hatchlings may also be fed one small mouse daily for several weeks until they are large enough to consume rats or rabbits. These additional meals will not only provide proper nutrition but will also aid in development by acting as a freshening meal that gives your snake energy between its normal feedings.
Olive pythons undergo periodic shedding of their skin. It takes about a week for an olive python to completely shed its skin and emerge with a new, soft layer underneath.
Olive pythons are generally shed every four months or so, but it’s important to remember that they’re not set on a strict schedule. Factors like temperature can affect when your olive python sheds its skin, as can other considerations (fever, stress).
When your snake begins shedding its skin — usually taking place in one large piece — you’ll notice that it becomes pale, even yellowish in color.
Prior to molting, most owners leave their pets alone in order to prevent injury while they are extremely delicate during shedding time; watch closely for signs that molting is nearly complete.
You can house your olive python in a standard aquarium, as long as it’s tall enough to accommodate an adult-sized snake (at least 48 inches high). You’ll need a secure top, and a heater placed on one side of the tank.
A light source is also important, so consider some extra lighting. Note that your snake may have trouble adapting to captive housing if it’s not been kept in captivity before—so make sure you thoroughly research its species beforehand.
Be sure to read our complete guide on caring for green pythons before you buy any supplies! It’s All About Temperature: Olive pythons are cold-blooded animals, which means their body temperature will change depending on their environment.
They’re native to sub-Saharan Africa, where they bask in sunbeams and absorb heat from rocks to warm up when they feel cold. This ability allows them to regulate their body temperature even when exposed to extreme temperatures.
Olive pythons are a dangerous snake species. They are large constrictors, and if approached carelessly can pose a real threat to humans.
While generally reclusive, when provoked or startled they will defend themselves by striking out at nearby targets in an attempt to defend themselves from danger. If cornered, olive pythons will hiss loudly and lunge forward, aiming for anything nearby that is moving.
Don’t get too close to one of these pythons—they’re strong enough to squeeze through small spaces! Due to their aggressive demeanor and territorial instincts towards other snakes and arthropods, it’s not recommended you house more than one olive python in any given enclosure; they tend not to cohabitate well with their own kind.
Legalities, Ownership, CITES Certificate, etc.
Before you go out and buy your pet python, there are a few legal considerations you need to be aware of. First, pythons, like all reptiles listed under CITES Appendix II, require a permit in order to be imported or exported from any country other than their native one.
They may not be held by individuals who do not have a license issued by their state’s wildlife agency; most states will issue such licenses to qualified individuals who can prove that they’re knowledgeable about snake care and handling.
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