Olive Python - Reptile Encounters

Olive Python

Scientific name:

Liasis olivaceous


Least concern

Olive pythons are one of the largest snakes in Australia, reaching up to 6m long and over 60kg, with the largest of the species and the heaviest snake in Australia living in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. They are given their name because of the olive green colour of their scales, and are suspected to be the origin for the Aboriginal stories about the rainbow serpent, due to the rainbow sheen that it possesses in sunlight formed from the shedding oil under their scales.

Olive Pythons can eat prey the size of rock wallabies, possums and when fully grown they can eat a small crocodile.

Olive Pythons prefer habitats that include river gorges, escarpments and caves, to allow them to camouflage.

Olive Pythons are found throughout the top end of Australia, from western Queensland to the Kimberley. There is a small, isolated population in the Pilbara region which is endangered due to persecution and mining incidents.

Olive Pythons are non-venomous and therefore do not have fangs or venom glands, but like all other pythons they have very sharp needle-like teeth to help catch prey. Due to the large prey size of this snake, to fit their food in they can disarticulate their jaws in 4 places, and stretch their mouths open to the size of a basketball. They swallow their prey whole using the curved, backwards facing teeth and after a large meal they will not need to eat for 2 months. Even though they are very large animals and can open their mouths very wide, they are not able to swallow a human; they are virtually harmless.

Being an ectothermic animal and so large, for them to heat up quickly they like to stretch out across the warm roads in the sun, however this proves very dangerous largely due to humans great fear of snakes and lack of knowledge. Olive pythons are regularly mistaken for venomous brown snakes and people actively run them over on the road while they are basking, which has led to the WA Pilbara subspecies becoming threatened.

Skip to toolbar