Jungle Carpet Python

Morelia spilota cheynei

Last updated: October 7, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit fivespots/Shutterstock.com

Their stunning coloration is sometimes muddy yellow or even tan and black in the wild.

Jungle Carpet Python Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Family
Pythonidae
Genus
Morelia
Scientific Name
Morelia spilota cheynei

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Jungle Carpet Python Conservation Status

Jungle Carpet Python Locations

Jungle Carpet Python Locations

Jungle Carpet Python Facts

Prey
Birds, lizards, frogs, and small mammals including rats, mice, rabbits.
Name Of Young
Hatchling, neonate, snakelet
Group Behavior
  • Solitary except during mating season
Fun Fact
Their stunning coloration is sometimes muddy yellow or even tan and black in the wild.
Biggest Threat
Habitat loss, predation by non-native feral cats and dogs.
Most Distinctive Feature
Vivid yellow and black markings.
Other Name(s)
carpet python
Incubation Period
50-60 days
Age Of Independence
At hatching
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
Common Name
Jungle Carpet Python
Origin
Australia

Jungle Carpet Python Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Yellow
  • Black
  • White
Skin Type
Scales
Lifespan
20+ years
Weight
~30 pounds
Length
6-8 feet
Age of Sexual Maturity
3-4 years
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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Jungle carpet pythons are a subspecies of nonvenomous carpet pythons found in Australia.

These snakes are arboreal; they don’t come to the ground often and only live in a small rainforest region. They eat various rodents, birds, marsupials, and other small, warm-blooded animals. Due to their natural beauty, they have become popular pets among reptile keepers.

Incredible Jungle Carpet Python Facts

  • In the wild, these only inhabit a small area in North-Eastern Queensland, Australia.
  • Their bright yellow and black markings are naturally-occurring and actually help them blend into their rainforest home.
  • Females can be up to four times heavier than males.

Jungle Carpet Python Scientific Name and Classification

Jungle carpet pythons are nonvenomous members of the Pythonidae family. Currently, this family includes approximately 42 species. That number sometimes changes as more research is completed and published.

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This subspecies is a member of the carpet python complex or group. In addition to the jungle carpet python, this group includes the coastal carpet python, diamond python, and Darwin carpet python. Some writers also include the Irian Jaya python, Bredl’s python, and sometimes the amethystine or scrub python.

Jungle carpet pythons, being a subspecies of carpet python, have a trinomial name: Morelia spilota cheyni. This just means that it has three words in its scientific name. The first name is the genus, Morelia. This genus includes a number of different pythons that inhabit Australia and New Guinea, including the Green python (Morelia viridis) and Boelen’s python (Morelia boeleni). The specific name and subspecies follow the genus, and spilota means spotted. Its subspecific name, cheynei, refers to Cheyne Wellington, who, along with R.W. Wells, split all the carpet pythons into separate species. This was almost immediately argued as being excessive. So, just a few years later, the carpet pythons were grouped together as subspecies under Morelia spilota.

Jungle Carpet Python Appearance and Behavior

This medium-sized python usually measures between five and seven feet and has a muscular body. The largest jungle carpet pythons can measure eight feet long. It has a classic “python” head that is triangular with a blunted snout and elliptical pupils with dark irises. Large heat-receptive pits are near the front of its snout and along the lower lip near the jaw. There are vertical bars between the scales along the upper and lower lips and small scales all over the head. Most of them have a stripe that begins behind the eyes, continuing through and around the front of their snout.


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Its color pattern is where it really stands out and blends in, all at the same time. The vibrant black and yellow of the jungle carpet python is one part of its attraction as a pet. Individuals can vary widely, but the yellow ranges from dusky yellow to vibrant, almost canary yellow. The black is in stark contrast to the yellow, but the vibrant pattern actually helps it blend into its home in the dappled forest light of its rainforest home.

This nocturnal, solitary snake is known for being relatively docile, even in the wild. This is another factor that makes it an attractive pet. It’s not usually too grumpy but can be snippier than other carpet pythons. Young snakes, in particular, tend to bite more. They’re young and frightened of the world, and it takes time for hatchlings to calm down.

Jungle carpet python on white background
Snakes use their tongue to explore their world through scent.

fivespots/Shutterstock.com

Jungle Carpet Python Habitat

Individuals of this nocturnal subspecies spend most of the day resting on a branch or in the hollow of a tree. Their habitat is full of leafy foliage that helps them camouflage.

Jungle carpet pythons are endemic to the lush subtropical and tropical rainforests in Queensland, Australia, in particular, the Daintree Rainforest. They are considered semi-arboreal and spend the majority of their time in the trees. They are likely to be found near water sources such as rivers or ponds, climbing and basking in the trees.

Jungle Carpet Python Diet

Jungle carpet pythons, like most snakes, are ambush predators that lie in wait for their meals. Their diet consists of small mammals, birds, frogs, and lizards. They are nonvenomous and kill by constriction, after which they swallow their prey whole. In captivity, they eat rats, mice, and rabbits.

Jungle Carpet Python Predators, Threats, and Conservation

Carpet pythons (Morelia spilota) are listed as least concern in the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species, but not listed separately. The Daintree Rainforest is a protected area in Australia and one of the remaining rainforests on the continent. The primary threat to this subspecies is habitat destruction because logging and other human activities have taken a toll on the rainforest where it lives.

The over-harvesting of animals for the pet trade in many countries left the wild populations decimated. So to protect their native wildlife from a similar fate, Australia protects its native animals from export. Most native species either cannot be exported or can only be exported under certain circumstances with appropriate permits.

Like the diamond python, the jungle carpet python is decreasing in number. Habitat loss and changing land use, combined with predation by non-native animals, have all taken a toll on their population.

Predators

Young snakes are eaten by birds of prey and carnivorous mammals. Feral cats and dogs can be a problem for them. However, adults don’t have many natural predators. They’re big enough that their size is intimidating to would-be predators.

Jungle Carpet Python Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Snakes aren’t very social animals in general, and the jungle carpet python is no different. The only time you’ll find more than one jungle carpet python together is during mating season. That said, scientists don’t know much about their mating practices in the wild. Most carpet pythons breed between the months of October and December.

The female lays 10-50 eggs about three weeks after mating. To protect them, she coils around them until they hatch. During incubation, which lasts about 50-60 days, she does not eat and only leaves to bask. If temperatures drop too much, she shivers to produce a little extra heat.

When they hatch, the babies are ready to fend for themselves immediately. They look like small versions of their parents and are called hatchlings, snakelets, or neonates. Neonates spend a lot of time hiding from bigger predators and tend to be more snippy than adults.

Jungle carpet pythons are long-lived, like many snakes, and can live into their 20s. However, they aren’t ready to breed until they’re usually 2-5 years old. The males generally mature a year or two earlier than the females. Males are also usually smaller than females, which require extra body mass to produce and incubate eggs until they hatch.

Similar Animals

Pythons in the Morelia genus have much in common – heads with small scales, large heat-sensing pits, and a somewhat arboreal lifestyle. Some of them can cross breed, forming natural intergrades between multiple types.

  • Coastal carpet pythons are another carpet python subspecies, they inhabit areas further south than any other carpet python.
  • Bredl’s python, also called the Centralian carpet python, is an isolated species that only inhabits an area in central Australia.
  • The very beautiful Boelen’s python inhabits mountainous regions across central New Guinea.

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About the Author

Gail is a musician, author, and artist with more ideas than time. She loves learning about all things in the natural world. Her upcoming book, Pebble Worms and Fast Walkers is filled with all the random bits that kids love! She lives in North Texas with her husband, twin sons, dogs, cat, two red-eared sliders, and two ball pythons.

Jungle Carpet Python FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are jungle carpet pythons good pets?

They can be, and certainly, many people keep them as pets. Like many reptiles, once you get their enclosure set up appropriately. They like lots of climbing space and need stable temperatures and humidity for good health.

Are jungle carpet pythons venomous?

No! Like other pythons, these are nonvenomous constrictor snakes.

What do jungle carpet pythons eat?

These snakes enjoy a diet full of birds, lizards, and small mammals.

Are jungle carpet pythons aggressive?

No, they can, however, be a little grumpier than other carpet pythons and are more prone to bite.

How do jungle carpet pythons hunt?

Snakes, in general, are the epitome of what defines an ambush predator.  Jungle carpet pythons are the same – they lie in wait, fully camouflaged, and wait for their meal to wander too close.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. Jungle Carpet Python | Fresh Start Rescue, Available here: https://www.freshstartrescueinc.org/jungle-carpet-python.html
  2. Jungle Carpet Python | Central Florida Zoo, Available here: https://www.centralfloridazoo.org/animals/jungle-carpet-python/
  3. Carpet Pythons | Reptile Database, Available here: https://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Morelia&species=spilota
  4. Carpet Python | IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species, Available here: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/62232/21649539

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