Python regius

Status: Least Concern

Range & Habitat
Found in the savannah grasslands and open forests of Africa from Senegal, Mali, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Benin, Niger and Nigeria through Cameroon, Chad and the Central African Republic to Sudan and Uganda.

Physical Description
The color pattern of the Ball Python is typically black or dark brown with light brown or gold sides and dorsal blotches. The belly is a white or cream that may include scattered black markings. However, those in the pet industries have, through selective breeding, developed many morphs (genetic mutations) with altered colors and patterns. Adults generally do not grow to more than 90-120 cm (3.0-3.9 ft) in length, although in rare instances, some specimens have reached 152 cm and even 182 cm (5-6 feet). Females tend to be slightly larger than males maturing at an average of 4-4.5 feet. Males usually average around 3-3.5 feet.

The ball python's build is stocky while the head is relatively small. The scales are smooth and both sexes have anal spurs on either side of the vent. Although males tend to have larger spurs, this is not definitive, and sex is best determined via manual eversion of the male hemipenes or inserting a probe into the cloaca to find the inverted hemipenes (if male).

Reproduction
Females lay four to 10 eggs, which she coils her body around to regulate their temperature. The female python generates heat through a series of contractions of her muscles. She can also expose the eggs to the air if they become to warm. They hatch in three months. Sexual maturity is reached in three to four years and they can live up to 20 years.

Diet: Carnivore
In the Wild: mostly small mammals. In the Zoo: small rodents.

Behavior
The Ball Python will coil into a tight ball when threatened, with its head and neck tucked away in the middle. The python also has the tendency to hiss loudly when it feels threatened. Favored retreats include mammal burrows and other underground hiding places.



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