The 10 Largest Pythons in the World

Written by Brandi Allred
Updated: June 6, 2022
Image Credit Uwe Bergwitz/Shutterstock.com
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Key Points

  • Pythons are very large non-venomous snakes that are found across four continents.
  • Relying on constriction as their main form of predation, pythons resemble boa constrictors but are a different species.
  • The largest python recorded was a 26.5 foot reticulated python!

Pythons are some of the biggest snakes on Earth. Here, we’ll learn about the ten largest pythons in the world, and where they live. All pythons are non-venomous snakes who rely on constriction, rather than venom, to hunt. They live in Africa, Australia, and Asia—there’s even a population of invasive Burmese pythons living in Florida’s Everglade National Park. Pythons may look similar to boa constrictors and anacondas, but they’re actually a completely different type of snake. All in all, there are 42 known species of python encompassing ten genres and four continents.

Let’s learn more about the ten largest pythons in the world.

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10. Sumatran Short-tailed Python (Python curtis)

These snakes live in Sumatra and the surrounding islands. They prefer semi-aquatic environments like rivers, swamps, and marshes.

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The Sumatran short-tailed python is small for a python but very large for a snake. They grow to lengths of around six feet, with heavy bodies designed for constriction. Their tails are extremely thin compared to the rest of their body, hence their name. Sumatran short-tailed pythons have brown coloring with light brown and tan markings.

9. Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis)

Green Tree Python coiled around tree branch. The easiest point of identification for the green tree python is the brilliant green hue of an adult's body.
These snakes occur in Papua New Guinea and Australia’s Cape York Peninsula. They spend most of their lives in the trees.

Franny Constantina/Shutterstock.com

Green tree pythons are among the largest snakes in the world, even if they’re dwarfed by number one on our list. They grow to around 6.5 feet in length and have thinner bodies than most species of python. They’re bright green with tiny white spots, and make popular pets for snake enthusiasts. 

8. Black-headed Python (Aspidites melanocephalus)

These pythons live in a variety of habitats along the coast of northern Australia. They live primarily on the ground, where they hunt for reptiles.

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Black-headed pythons typically grow to around 6.5 feet, but can reach lengths of ten feet or more in ideal conditions. They’re found in wooded areas as well as semi-desert settings and rocky hillsides. Black-headed pythons are mostly light brown with darker stripes, but, as their name suggests, they have distinct all-black heads. Their unique coloring makes them a popular pet species, despite their potential to grow very large.

7. Carpet Python (Morelia spilota)

Carpet python in Australian bush
These snakes live in Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, Australia, and the Solomon Islands.

Michelle Marks/Shutterstock.com

The carpet python is one of the largest pythons in the world, reaching lengths of over 13 feet. They can weigh more than 30 pounds, which makes them one of the heavier snakes in the world. Carpet pythons have distinct markings created by dark and light scales among the plain brown scales that typify their bodies. They prefer forested areas, and eat mainly small to medium-sized mammals, birds, and other reptiles.

6. Papuan Python (Apodora papuana)

Largest Pythons - Papuana Python
These pythons live only in New Guinea, where they are also known as Irian pythons, or Papuan olive pythons.

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The Papuan python grows to a maximum length of about 13 feet, though there are unsubstantiated reports of females growing a little bigger. They’re thin-bodied, but still rank as some of the largest pythons in the world. Papuan pythons range in color from nearly black to yellow or olive green.

5. Indian Python (Python molurus)

Biggest Snakes: The Indian Python
As their name suggests, Indian pythons live in the Indian subcontinent and throughout Southeast Asia.

slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

One of the largest pythons in the world,  the Indian python can reach lengths of 10 feet and in some extreme cases even larger. The world record for the longest Indian python was a 15-foot long specimen that weighed 110 pounds!

They’re also known as black-tailed pythons, Indian rock pythons, or Asian rock pythons. Frequently confused with Burmese pythons, these snakes have distinct dark brown splotches overlaid on a light brown body. They live everywhere from rocky hillsides to swamps; as long as they’re close to water, Indian pythons can find a way to thrive.

4. Amethystine Python (Simalia amethistina)

Biggest Snakes: The Amethystine Python
Also known as the Australian scrub python, these are the largest snakes in Australia.

IanRedding/Shutterstock.com

Amethystine pythons are one of the largest pythons in the world. Though most grow to only about 13 feet, the biggest amethystine pythons can exceed 20 feet long, and weigh more than 20 pounds. In 2015 an extremely large Amethystine python was captured that had an estimated weight of 110 pounds, which shows just how big these snakes can grow. They live in the tropical rainforests of New Guinea and northern Australia. Amethystine pythons are heavy-bodied, with light brown to yellow coloring. They feed primarily on small mammals and birds. 

3. Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)

Apex predator: Burmese python
These snakes are native to Southeast Asia, where they’re listed as Vulnerable.

Heiko Kiera/Shutterstock.com

One of the largest pythons in the world, the Burmese python regularly grows to lengths of more than 11 feet. They’re heavy-bodied snakes, with some weighing over 100 pounds. In fact, a large Burmese python named “Baby” was weighed in at 403 pounds and measured just shy of 19 feet long.

Burmese pythons are endemic to Southeast Asia, but they’re also considered an invasive species in the Florida Everglades. They spend their lives on the ground, in the trees, and in the water, where they hunt for small to medium sized mammals, birds, and amphibians. 

2. African Rock Python (Python sebae)

African rock python in the water
These snakes live throughout sub-Saharan Africa. They’re currently listed as Near Threatened due to poaching and habitat loss.

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Number two on our list of the largest pythons in the world is the African rock python. Most adults grow to about 12 feet long, though lengths of over 16 feet are not uncommon. Some African rock pythons have even been measured at nearly 20 feet. African rock pythons can weigh over 100 pounds, making them one of the heaviest pythons in the world. In fact, rock pythons hold the record for the largest meal ever recorded by a snake! A rock python was recorded eating a hyena estimated at 150 pounds. They feed on medium-sized mammals and reptiles, even Nile crocodiles.

1. Reticulated Python (Malayopython reticulatus)

Biggest Snakes: The Reticulated Python
These famous snakes are native to Southeast Asia and Indonesia.

Reticulated pythons are the largest python in the world. They’re also generally considered the longest snakes in the world. Reticulated pythons can grow to over 20 feet long, and weigh over 150 pounds. They have distinct markings made up of black, white, yellow, and caramel-colored scales, and long, narrow heads. Like all pythons, reticulated pythons are non-venomous, and use constriction to crush and suffocate their prey. The largest python ever officially recorded is named Medusa. The snake lives in Kansas City, Missouri and has been measured at 25.2 feet, and weighs 350 pounds. There have been various reports of larger pythons, such as a 26.25-foot long python that reportedly weighed 550 pounds captured in Malaysia in 2016. However, reports of these “monster” snakes that are far larger than ones properly measured in captivity are hard to verify.

Pythons vs Boa Constrictors

Commonly mistaken for each other, pythons and boa constrictors are actually quite different snakes. One way to tell these snakes apart is where you’re located. Boas are mainly found in the western hemisphere of Central and South America, while pythons are Old World snakes found in Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America.

Another way to distinguish these snakes is their skull anatomy. Boas have fewer bones in their skulls and fewer teeth than pythons. Pythons also have upper jaw bones with teeth. Boas also tend to be smaller than pythons at around 4-12 ft.

Considering these facts, it can be quite easy to tell these species apart when comparing boas and pythons.

Summary: 10 Largest Pythons on Earth

RankSpecies
1Reticulated Python
2African Rock Python
3Burmese Python
4Amethystine Python
5Indian Python
6Papuan Python
7Carpet Python
8Black-headed Python
9Green Tree Python
10Sumatran Short-tailed Python

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