Animals / Reptiles

Amethystine Python

Синонимы и названия на других языках

Morelia amethistina, amethystine, scrub python, Sanca permata

Neuguinea-Amethystpython (German)


Order: scuamata

Family: boidae

Genus: phuton

Species: Morelia Amethistina

Subspecies: Morelia Clastolepis, Morelia Tacyei, Morelia Nauta, Morelia Kinghorni, Morelia  Amethistina.


The amethystine python is found in Australia, specifically in the North-West of Queensland and in the eastern part of Cape York peninsula, as well as on the surrounding islands, including New Guines and the Philippines.

The amethystine python or scrub python lives both in the rainforest and in the savannah. It can even be found in the coastal areas near coral reefs.  Scrub pythons mainly live on the trees, but sometimes can be found under the stones or in rock clefts. Some of them are encountered in close proximity to people. Scrub pythons are excellent swimmers.

Внешний вид

In the wild the scrub python can grow up to 8,5 m, but in captivity they seldom get longer than 3,5 m.

Males are approximately 30% shorter than females. Also they are slimmer and their heads are smaller.

Males are normally olive-yellow with dark brown or black cross bands, their scales have an iridescent sheen similar to a polished amethyst.

A long tail and neck make half of the python’s body. They are usually slim but very strong. The scales are very large, especially on the snakes’ bellies. The large head is distinct from the neck. Their eyes are big and the teeth are bigger than other pythons’ – with their help scrub pythons catch birds.

Due to the isolation, different subspecies of the amethystine python have various colors. The ones residing in the higher area of Wamena are usually red and orange, whereas the pythons that live on Merauke island boast with zigzag pattern.


The scrub pythons are nocturnal. In the young age they mostly live on trees, after 2 years they tend to be terrestrial.

The scrub python is non-venomous but they are very bad-tempered and tend to bite quite painfully.

They are solitary animals that are best kept alone.

You can tame the python in the following way. Before putting it down in its enclosure, you should touch its nose gently with some object, for example a stick. It will make the snake to jerk back (therefore you shouldn’t do it while feeding). If you repeat this procedure regularly, the python will eventually understand when it can get close to you. The snake will not try to come near you every time you open the enclosure and this will help you to avoid bites.

If you have to take the python, you should grab it at the back of the neck. Otherwise the shocked reptile can squeeze your hand and you won’t be able to break free without the assistance.

The only potentially dangerous situation in the interaction with the scrub python is feeding. These snakes can hold their long bodies horizontally only with the help of their tail. And when they smell food, they can attack the potential prey by jumping on it from quite a long distance. But they can miss their target and bite another moving object, for example your hand. Although the amethystine pythons are not poisonous, their bites are quite unpleasant. So it is best to feed them with the help of wooden tongs (it is not recommended to use metal tongs since they can injure the pythons’ jaws).

Содержание и уход

The enclosure for the scrub python should be large and endurable. For one snake, a tank or an enclosure starting from 150х70х80 cm would be sufficient. The enclosure should be made of very thick glass and have a solid entrance. The bottom should be covered with turf or shredded wood bark. It is a good idea to put into the enclosure several vertical robust branches for your python to climb. Some non-toxic plants can serve as hiding places. The basking light can be installed near the branches but it has to be at least 15 cm away from the snake’s body in order to avoid burns.  A large water bowl is a must. You will have to change the water twice a day.

The temperature should be kept at 28-30°C at daytime and 22 – 24°C at night.

The air has to be damp; daily misting is required.

The pythons require light for 12 hours a day with the help of UV lamps and basking lamps as the heat source.


In captivity the amethystine pythons eat mainly rodents, for example mice and rats. It is best to feed your python twice a month. An adult male requires 1-2 rats for each feeding, and an adult female requires 2-4 rats. Don’t give them more food since these snakes are prone to obesity.

Young amethystine pythons in the wild catch rodents, small mammals and birds. Grown-up snakes eat kangaroos and their relatives – wallaby.  The pythons mainly hunt at night. They lie still for hours, waiting for their prey in ambush. Then they attack their victim: first they bite it with their sharp teeth and then squeeze.


It is a large and beautiful snake which is very interesting to watch.

It can be dangerous for people: there have been cases when the scrub pythons squeezed people to death.

They require a very large enclosure.

They need live food.


If your python refuses to eat, it can be caused by stress, unsuitable food, or it can happen that the snake just is not hungry.  You should not try and force the food into the snake: they can live without food for a long time without any damage for their health. You should only start worrying if your snake doesn’t eat for several months. Then you need to analyze its living conditions and the menu prior to this situation. If it comes to the worst, the snake can be fed intravenously.

The python can vomit because of stress, illness or if the prey was too big. Also it can vomit if it was fed during shedding or if the temperature in its enclosure is not suitable. After vomiting you mustn’t feed the snake for 7-10 days, and then you can offer it food taking into account the previous mistakes.

Shedding is not a disease, it is a necessary step in the snake’s growth. Its eyes get milky, their color grows paler and the skin starts coming off. During this time you should be extra careful about the humidity and clean water in the enclosure.

Mites are small parasites that live on the snake’s skin. They stick on the snake’s body between the scales and suck its blood. This can make the snake lethargic and it can turn down the food.  To get rid of mites you need to use the weak solution of the same medicine which is used against ticks on cats and dogs. You will also have to disinfect the whole enclosure.

Respiratory diseases are usually caused by potentially pathogenic bacteria if the immune system of the snake doesn’t function properly either due to a stress or to unsuitable living conditions. The symptoms include gasping, open mouth, runny nose. These diseases are treated by the injections of antibiotic called Baytril.


Scrub pythons don’t often breed in captivity.

For breeding the male and the female should be put together in one enclosure. If they are not aggressive to each other, they will most often mate and after that the female lays about 15-25 eggs in the substrate. The eggs should be taken to the incubator, and after 65-80 days small pythons will hatch. You will have to feed them small rodents.

The only problem in the breeding process is high level of aggression in males towards each other. Normally in the beginning of mating season males are put together for a while: in this case they get more competitive for the female, males stimulate each other and mating becomes more successful. But this situation requires extra careful monitoring since the fights between males can be very brutal and often end with severe injuries or death.  

Average life expectancy – about 20 years.

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