Royal (Ball) Python
The skin has a bold pattern of ovoid patches on a brown or bluish-brown background. The color varies, but almost always includes some shade of yellow. This is the smallest of the African pythons and is seldom more than 3-5 feet in length.
GEOGRAPHICAL RANGE AND HABITAT:
Southern Sudan, parts of Central Africa, and Western Equatorial Africa, e.g. Sierra Leone, Togo, Senegal. Found on savannas and sparsely wooded plains.
Carnivorous. Small mammals, birds.
LIFE CYCLE/SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
Mammal burrows and such subterranean retreats are used for aestivation during the dry season and for deposition and incubation of eggs. Females incubate their 4-10 eggs with their bodies for 3 months. Hatchlings range from 10 to 17 inches. In ideal conditions they will grow to three feet in length in three years. In captivity sexual maturity is reached in 3-4 years. Life span is 20-30 years. (Record in captivity is 47 years - a record for any captive snake).
The Royal Python is also known as the Ball Python since it will coil into a tight ball with its head inside when threatened.
Its small size and gentle nature make it common in the pet trade. Captive-bred rather than imported pets should be encouraged. This species is a highly exploited one for the pet trade, and their low reproductive rate and low clutch size make the species vulnerable. In addition, imported pythons are reluctant to feed in captivity and have parasites.
The royal pythons can be found in the African Savanna.
STATUS IN WILD:
This python is the favorite food of some tribes and they are also slaughtered for their skins. It is one of the most widely sold snakes in the pet trade. They are considered threatened and permits are required for their legal export (living or dead) from most countries. Listed as a species of Least Concern by IUCN.