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African Rock Python
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Anatomy: Like all snakes, pythons are cold-blooded; they are the same temperature as the environment. They continue to grow all their lives, getting bigger and bigger each year. African Rock Python average 18 to 20 feet long, but can grow up to 28 feet (8.5 m) long. Their scaly skin glistens but is dry is to the touch. African Rock Pythons are tan with brown spots that have black outlines. A tan V-shape marks the face. The python smells using its tongue. This snake has has no fangs. It uses heat sensing organs in its upper and lower jaws to detect warm-blooded prey (like mammals).
Hunting and Diet: Pythons are carnivores (meat-eaters). Pythons are not venomous, they kill by constricting (squeezing) the prey it until it can no longer breathe. Like all snakes, they swallow the prey whole, head first. The python's top and bottom jaws are attached to each other with stretchy ligaments, which let the snake swallow animals wider that itself. Snakes don't chew their food, it is digested by very strong acids in the snake's stomach. The African Rock Python eats monkeys, pigs, deer, small apes, birds, and other animals. After eating a large animal, the python needs no food for a long time, and may rest for weeks. In this engorged state, it is most vulnerable to attack by predators.
Reproduction: Female pythons lay up to 75 eggs
Classifcation: Kingdom Animalia, Phylum Chordata, Class Reptilia, Order Squamata (lizards and snakes), Suborder Serpentes, Family Boidae (constrictors), Genus Python.
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