Pythons in the pergola: the ecology of ‘nuisance’ carpet pythons (Morelia spilota) from suburban habitats in south-eastern Queensland

Carpet pythons (Morelia spilota) are large (to >4 m, 11 kg) non-venomous snakes that are widely distributed across mainland Australia. In many parts of their range, viable populations persist even in highly disturbed urban and suburban habitats. Over a six-year period, we collected 258 ‘nuisance’ pythons from two cities (Brisbane and Ipswich) in south-eastern Queensland. Most of these snakes were reported by members of the general public, often after the snakes had consumed domestic pets or cage-birds. We provide data on seasonal activity patterns, body sizes, sexual size dimorphism, reproduction and food habits of these snakes. Snakes were active and fed year-round, primarily on domestic and commensal birds and mammals. Dietary composition shifted with body size: one small snake consumed a lizard, intermediate-sized snakes took mostly mice, rats and parrots, and large snakes fed on larger items such as cats, brushtail possums and poultry. Adult male pythons engaged in combat bouts during the breeding season, and (perhaps as an adaptation to enhance success in such bouts) grew larger and were more heavy-bodied than conspecific females.

Author Fearn, S., Robinson, B., Sambono, J. and R. Shine, R.
Year 2001
Secondary title Wildlife Research
Volume 28
Number 6
Pages 573-579
Region QLD