Southern African python

Southern African python

Python natalensis

Common name:

Southern African python

Scientific name:

Python natalensis

Alternative common names:


Southern African python are dark-coloured snakes with many brown blotches bordered in black down the back. It kills its prey by constriction and often eats animals up to the size of antelope, occasionally even crocodiles.

Additional Information

Where does this species come from?

Sub-Saharan Africa

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

NEMBA Category 1a

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Northern KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo Province, Mpumalanga Province.

How does it spread?

Spread via pet trade. It’s considered to have some sort of commercial value either at the local, national or international level.

Why is it a problem?

Southern African python is an invasive species, it poses a threat to indigenous wildlife, and also to human safety. Although non-venomous, pythons are dangerous because of powerful teeth which can cause tissue damage so severe that stitches may be needed; a large python can kill a person and there are a few records of this happening.

What does it look like?

Description: Burmese pythons are among the largest snakes on Earth. They are capable of reaching 7 meters or more in length and weighing up to 90 kilograms with a girth as big as a telephone pole. When young, they will spend much of their time in the trees. However, as they mature and their size and weight make tree climbing unwieldy, they transition to mainly ground-dwelling. They are also excellent swimmers, and can stay submerged for up to 30 minutes before surfacing for air.

Habitat: Found in grasslands, marshes, swamps, rocky foothills, woodlands, river valleys, and jungles with open clearings. They are good climbers and have prehensile tails.

Breeding: Burmese pythons breed in the early spring, with females laying clutches which average 12–36 eggs in March or April. She will remain with the eggs until they hatch, wrapping around them and twitching her muscles in such a way as to raise the ambient temperature around the eggs by several degrees. Once the hatchlings use their egg tooth to cut their way out of their eggs, there is no further maternal care.

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