A Grand Day Out
When the weather is right, it's always a good idea to take your pets out for a walk. We all need to stretch our legs sometimes, whether that be in the literal sense or metaphorically.
Even the legless enjoy a pleasant stroll in the garden on a sunny day.
This is Darwin, a male ball python (Python regius)
The common name ball python comes from their behavioral response to stress or fear- curling into a ball. Look closely at the Latin name Python regius, and you might recognize their other common name, royal python. Lore suggests that African royalty used to wear these snakes as jewelry.
I happen to think they are quite fashionable.
There is only one species and no subspecies of ball pythons, but because they are very popular pets, there has been decades of captive breeding and generation of interesting color morphs. Much like domestic dogs, ball pythons have become quite variable with the help of their human caretakers.
In the wild, the ball python can be found in open forests and savannahs across western and central Africa. They like cover, warmth, and humidity, and are often associated with termite mounds where they fins respite from the hot, dry environments around them. Like many species of snakes, they are crepuscular (most active at dawn and at dusk). They are carnivores, feeding primarily on rodents (mice, rats, etc.) using constriction to subdue their prey and swallowing the meal whole.
In the wild, they typically live only about 10 years in the wild, but they can reach 20-30 years in captivity (though some can even live 40+). In that time, the snake grows to a length of 1 to 1.5 meters (3 - 5 feet) by the time it reaches adulthood.
Females lay clutches of 4 - 7 eggs, which will hatch after about 2 months of incubation. When they hatch, the babies are only about 25 to 40 centimeters (or 9 - 15 inches), but they grow quickly.
Ball pythons are wonderful pets, and despite being heavily exploited for the pet trade (about 30,000 to 50,000 ball pythons are exported annually to America from the wild), captive breeding, widespread range, and high population numbers mean that ball pythons are not threatened in the wild. They are, however, subject to human disturbance from hunting and wildfires. Unfortunately, despite being entirely harmless to people, many snakes around the world are killed simply out of fear.
It is important to remember that all species are important, and if they are feared it is likely that we don't understand enough about them to recognize their true value.