Darwin Carpet Python

Photographed after slight disturbance [2]

The Darwin carpet python (Morelia spilota variegata) is the smallest subspecies of carpet pythons, with adults typically growing up to two meters long. They are nocturnal and semi-arboreal, with younger snakes reportedly spending most of their time in trees. Juveniles feed primarily on reptiles and amphibians, and as they mature they transition to mammals including rodents and even brushtail possums. Like others in the spilota complex, Darwin carpet pythons are extremely variable in coloration throughout their range [see my older post on the diamond python (Morelia spilota spilota) I found last month in NSW]. Diamond pythons have beautiful gold speckled and triangular patterning throughout the body, whereas Darwin carpet pythons instead have prominent stripes, usually alternating between brown and pale yellow colors. The color pattern in juveniles is often more vibrant than in adults, so I was happy that my first carpet python here in the Top End was a juvenile ~1.5 meters long.

Photographed after slight disturbance [2]
Photographed after slight disturbance [2]

Sometimes snakes don’t like being filmed. The python actually hit the record button on my camera and stopped the recording, so when I looked at my camera I thought it had not recorded the strike. Message received! The short clip above was taken after I watched the snake move around for about 45 minutes in the heat of the day, so it was all fired up, but for the most part it was extremely calm.

Photographed and filmed after disturbance [4], unless otherwise stated

Juvenile carpet python extending from branch to branch, a python with both terrestrial and arboreal habits
A snake train – smooth lateral undulation in a carpet python

Heavy-bodied snakes often use rectilinear progression as an inchworm-like way of moving forward, but smaller snakes can achieve fast speeds through lateral undulation with rapid turning of the head from side to side. This creates many inflection points making the sinusoidal motion less noticeable.

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