Rough-scaled Python - Reptile Encounters

Rough-scaled Python

Scientific name:

Morelia carinata

Other names:

Rock Chondro, ‘Roughie’


Rare, status currently not known.

The general colour is dark brown with pale brown blotches. Towards the tail the pale blotches become larger so that the pattern appears to be reversed with a pale background and darker blotches. The head is large and triangular and very obviously separate from the neck. Each scale has a ridge (or ‘keel’) running along its centre giving the species its name and a rough, sandpaper feel. They have possibly the longest teeth for their body size of any python species. Their eyes are also much more forward-facing than most python species and the eye colour is a stunning flight greyish-blue. It’s thought the species can get up to 2m long but with so few specimens from the wild having been observed, it’s hard to tell if this is the case. Rough-scaled pythons also exhibit an amazing behaviour known as ‘ghosting’, in which the colour changes at night and the snake becomes far paler.

In the wild, this is still unclear as the species is still comparatively new to science and hasn’t been studied as in-depth as other species. Rodents and birds are thought to be taken, and juvenile pythons are thought to prey on frogs. In captivity, rodents are usually taken without issue.

Rocky areas in monsoon forest. The exact habitat requirements are still poorly understood but they are thought to spend most of their time in the canopies of trees or on the sandstone escarpments of their habitat. The species is also associated with fruiting trees, which may be because they are ideal for ambushing prey and usually close to water.

The far north-western reaches of the Kimberly, in the lower sections of the Mitchell and Hunter Rivers, just inland from the coast. This species has one of the smallest distributions of any snake species on earth.

Rough-scaled pythons are crepuscular, which means this species is most active in the few hours after dusk and again in the few hours before dawn. Like most pythons, they are ambush predators, and may stay in ambush positions for days.
They are known to shelter in amongst the root systems of Ficus trees, of which the roots are similar in thickness and colour to the pythons.

Rough-scaled pythons have been observed showing a spectacular defensive display. When approached by a threat, they pythons will extend themselves towards it, open their mouth and show off their long teeth whilst swaying side to side. That said, most individuals of this species are not inclined to bite and are usually quite placid.
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