The Burmese python (Python bivittatus) is one of the five largest snakes in the world, native to a large variation of tropic and subtropic areas of Southern- and Southeast Asia. Until 2009 they were considered a subspecies of Python molurus, but now are recognized as belonging to a distinct species. They are often found near water and are sometimes semi-aquatic, but can also be found in trees. Wild individuals average 3.7 metres (12 ft) long, but may reach up to 5.74 metres (19 ft).
Burmese pythons are dark-colored snakes with many brown blotches bordered in black down the back. The perceived attractiveness of their skin pattern contributes to their popularity with both reptile keepers and the leather industry. The pattern is similar in colour, but different in actual pattern from the African rock python (Python sebae), sometimes resulting in confusion of the two species outside of their natural habitats. The African rock python can generally be distinguished by its tighter pattern of markings, compared to the Burmese python, which has bolder patterns, similar to those seen on a giraffe.
In the wild, Burmese pythons grow to 3.7 metres (12 ft) on average, while specimens of more than 4 metres (13 ft) are uncommon. In general, individuals over 5 metres are rare. The record maximum length for Burmese Pythons is held by a female named “Baby”, that lived at Serpent Safari, Gurnee, Illinois, for 27 years. Shortly after death, her actual length was determined to be 5.74 metres (18 ft 10 in). Widely published data of specimens that were reported to have been even several feet longer are not verified. There are dwarf forms on Java, Bali and Sulawesi. On Bali they reach an average length of 2 metres (6.6 ft), and on Sulawesi they achieve a maximum of 2.5 metres (8.2 ft).
Burmese pythons are mainly nocturnal rainforest dwellers. When younger they are equally at home on the ground and in trees, but as they gain girth they tend to restrict most of their movements to the ground. They are also excellent swimmers, being able to stay submerged for up to half an hour. Burmese pythons spend the majority of their time hidden in the underbrush. In the northern parts of its range, the Indian python may brumate for some months during the cold season in a hollow tree, a hole in the riverbank or under rocks. Brumation is biologically distinct from hibernation. While the behaviour has similar benefits, specifically to endure the winter without moving, it also involves preparation of both male and female reproductive organs for the upcoming breeding season. There is controversy over whether the Burmese species is able to brumate.
Burmese pythons breed in the early spring, with females laying clutches which average 12–36 eggs in March or April. She will remain with the eggs until they hatch, wrapping around them and twitching her muscles in such a way as to raise the ambient temperature around the eggs by several degrees. Once the hatchlings use their egg tooth to cut their way out of their eggs, there is no further maternal care. The newly hatched will often remain inside their egg until they are ready to complete their first shedding of skin, after which they hunt for their first meal.
The Burmese python is frequently captive-bred for colour, pattern, and more recently size. Its albino form is especially popular and is the most widely available morph. They are white with patterns in butterscotch yellow and burnt orange. There are also “labyrinth” specimens, which have mazelike patterns; khaki-coloured “green”; and “granite”, which have many small angular spots. Breeders have recently begun working with an island lineage of Burmese pythons. Early reports indicate that these “dwarf” Burmese have slightly different colouring and pattern from their mainland relatives and do not grow much over 2.1 metres (7 ft) in length. One of the most sought-after of these variations is the leucistic Burmese. This particular variety is very rare, and has only recently (2008/2009) been reproduced in captivity as the homozygous form (referred to as “super” by reptile keepers) of the codominant hypomelanistic trait. This snake is entirely bright white with no pattern and black eyes, thus precluding it from being a true albino. The caramel Burmese python has caramel-coloured pattern with “milk-chocolate” eyes.
(-Secrets to ‘Extreme Adaptation’ Found in Burmese Python Genome. 02.11.2013