North African python

North African python

Python sebae

Common name:

North African python

Scientific name:

Python sebae

Alternative common names:


African rock python is a large, nonvenomous snake ofSub-Saharan Africa.It’s Africa’s largest snake and one of the five largest snake species in the world. It varies considerably in body size between different areas.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Sub-Saharan Africa

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA-Category 2

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Northern Cape Province, Limpopo Province and KwaZulu-Natal Province.

How does it spread?

It is collected for the pet trade, although it is not generally recommended as a pet due to its large size and unpredictable temperament.

Why is it a problem?

They are opportunistic predators, and will consume almost any animal they come across which they can overpower with constriction.

What does it look like?

Description: It has a long, stout body, patterned with blotches that vary in colour between brown, olive, chestnut and buffy yellow, often joining up in a broad, irregular stripe. The triangular head has many sharp, backwardly curved teeth and is marked on top with a dark brown “spear-head” outlined in buffy yellow. Under the eye is a distinctive triangular marking, known as a sub-ocular mark. Like all pythons, the scales of the African rock python are small and smooth, and those around the lips possess heat-sensitive pits, which are used to detect warm-blooded prey, even in the dark. Pythons also possess two functioning lungs, unlike more ‘advanced’ snakes which have only one.

Habitat: This python inhabits a wide range of habitats, including savannah woodland and grassland, forest, semi-desert, rocky areas and the edges of swamps, lakes and rivers, being particularly associated with areas of permanent water. It also readily adapts to disturbed habitats and so is often found around human habitation.

Breeding: North African pythons are oviparous, lying between 20 and 100 hard-shelled, elongated eggs in an old animal burrow, termite mound or cave. The female shows a surprising level of maternal care, coiling around the eggs, protecting them from predators and possibly helping to incubate them, until they hatch around 90 days later.

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