For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Videos: YouTube

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Copperhead and Burmese Python

We have a lovely Snake Park nearby. This is a Copperhead which I am sure a lot of you already know. These pictures were taken through glass and in the first one, it had a blue light in the corner.

Like all pit vipers, A. contortrix is an ambush predator: it takes up a promising position and waits for suitable prey to arrive. In the southern United States, they are nocturnal during the hot summer months, but are commonly active during the day during the spring and fall.
Like most North American viperids, these snakes prefer to avoid humans and, given the opportunity, will leave the area without biting. However, unlike other viperids they will often "freeze" instead of slithering away, and as a result many bites occur from people unknowingly stepping on or near them. This tendency to freeze likely evolved because of the extreme effectiveness of their camouflage. When lying on dead leaves or red clay they can be almost impossible to notice. They will frequently stay still even when approached closely, and will generally strike only if physical contact is made.

Within its range it occupies a variety of different habitats. In most of North America it favors deciduous forest and mixed woodlands. It is often associated with rock outcroppings and ledges, but is also found in low-lying swampy regions. In the states around the Gulf of Mexico, however, this species is also found in coniferous forest. In the Chihuahuan Desert of west Texas and northern Mexico, it occurs in riparian habitats, usually near permanent or semipermanent water and sometimes in dry arroyos.
These Burmese Pythons are really beautiful. These two must be about 7 feet in length.

Huge! Expect an adult size of 15-20 feet long, and 100 to 200 pounds or more. Their huge size makes them both expensive to keep and potentially dangerous, so think first about committing to caring for a snake this size. It is not easy to find someone to take a large snake if you can no longer care for it. Never, ever release your pet - released Burmese pythons have invaded and are breeding in the Florida Everglades and have become a serious threat there. Owners have died due to handling mistakes with these snakes as well - they are not suitable for beginners and are generally best left in the wild.

Temperament
Burmese pythons are generally considered quite docile especially compared to other large snakes. Hatchlings can be quite skittish but are usually quite readily tamed with consistent handling. Still, these snakes are huge and quite aggressive feeders, and they can inflict serious injury to their handlers and have been involved in several fatalities (due to owner complacency, ignorance, or error). A second person should always be present when handling or feeding constrictors over 8 feet long.

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