Black-headed pythons

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Black-headed pythons
Black-headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus)

Black- headed python ( Aspidites melanocephalus )

Order : Scale reptiles (Squamata)
without rank: Toxicofera
Subordination : Snakes (serpentes)
Superfamily : Python-like (Pythonoidea)
Family : Pythons (Pythonidae)
Genre : Black-headed pythons
Scientific name
Peters , 1877

The black-headed pythons ( Aspidites ) are a genus of bottom-dwelling, medium-sized giant snakes from the python family , whose occurrence is limited to Australia . Only two types are distinguished: the black- headed python ( Aspidites melanocephalus ) and the woma ( Aspidites ramsayi ).

Features and way of life

The body of the black-headed python is muscular; the head is only slightly separated from the body. The edentulous premaxillary and the large, symmetrical head shields are characteristic of the genus . The basic color of both species is a light brown, with the back as a rule being darker than the sides. Dark to red-brown, sometimes black, crossbars run across the back, which are usually narrower than the light spaces between them. The two species differ in the head color, which is light brown to yellowish in the woma and thus roughly corresponds to the basic color of the body, while the head of the black-headed python is shiny black.

Originally it was considered that thermosensory organs ( labial pits ), as they occur in the other pythons, are missing in the representatives of the black-headed pythons. However - only at the tip of the snout - there should be labial pits protected by the rostral scale and therefore not visible from the outside. The numerical reduction and the covering of the remaining labial pits is justified by a probable aspect of their way of life that is unique among the pythons: In captivity, digging has been observed in individuals of both species in sandy - gravelly substrate , from which it was concluded that wild animals "enlarge existing burrows to seek shelter in it or to hunt ”. At least for wild womas, this has even been confirmed for relatively firm clayey alluvial soils .

Furthermore, the supposed absence of labial pits was an indication that the natural prey of the black-headed pythons consists almost exclusively of poikilothermal (cold-blooded) animals. Investigations of the stomach contents of captured animals show, however, approximately equal proportions of different scale reptiles ( agamas , geckos , skinks , monitor lizards , snakes) and different mammals ( rabbits , mice , nasal sacs ) in the prey spectrum. In nights following particularly hot days, it was observed that womas with transmitters climbed trees in order to prey on sleeping lizards , especially individuals of the Eastern Bearded Dragons ( Pogona barbata ).

Both species lay eggs and are therefore oviparous .


Woma ( Aspidites ramsayi )

Only 2 species belong to this genus: the black- headed python ( Aspidites melanocephalus ) and the woma ( Aspidites ramsayi ). The black-headed python lives mainly in northern Australia and colonizes very different habitats from humid coastal forests to seasonally dry tropical forest areas to the northern desert areas. The woma, on the other hand, is restricted to the desert areas of Central Australia.

Individual evidence

  1. ^ A b Guido Westhoff, Shaun P. Collin: A new type of infrared sensitive organ in the python Aspidites sp. 6th World Congress of Herpetology, August 17–22, 2008, Manaus, Brazil, Abstracts of Papers ( online ( Memento from July 6, 2011 in the Internet Archive ))
  2. Harald Ehmann: Family Boidae. In: CG Glasby, GJB Ross, PL Beesley (Eds.): Fauna of Australia. Volume 2A: Amphibia and Reptilia. AGPS Canberra, 1993 ( PDF 732 kB), p. 7
  3. a b c Melissa J. Bruton: Arboreality, excavation, and active foraging: novel observations of radiotracked woma pythons Aspidites ramsayi. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. Vol. 56, No. 2, 2013, pp. 313–329 ( PDF 1.2 MB)
  4. Aspidites according to ITIS


  • Harold G. Cogger: Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia. 6th edition. Ralph Curtis Books, Sanibel, Florida 2000, ISBN 0-88359-048-4 , pp. 601-602.

Web links

Commons : Black-headed pythons ( Aspidites )  - collection of images, videos and audio files