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Coastal Carpet Python
(Morelia Spilota McDowelli)

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The Coastal Carpet Python (Morelia Spilota McDowelli) is one of the widest and most commonly distributed python species in Australia. Often mistaken for or confused with the Diamond Carpet, this species occurs further north. It is also known for the Diamond Python and the Coastal Python to interbreed, which is unheard of in most other reptile species.

Appearance and Characteristics

A heavy bodied snake, this species is known to grow up to 14 foot in length, although average length seems to be around 7 - 9 feet. The life span of this snake is unknown, and figures from experts varies greatly, but it is believed that this snake can live in excess of 100 years. Captive bred animals, which grow at a much faster rate have been known to live up to 50 years.

Colours and Patterns of the Coastal Python vary greatly, even within one location. Colours include olives, dark greens, light greens, yellowy greens, browns and blacks. Patterns can be splotches, stripes or rings of colours. Colour and patterns are at their most vibrant immediately after, and within a week of sloughing off of old skin.
Reproductive Cycle.

After mating, a clutch of up to 30 eggs are laid. Females of this species, unlike other snake species, will care for her eggs, and defend her clutch violently. She coils herself around her eggs, and shivers to keep the eggs at a stable temperature. Between 50 and 60 days after producing her clutch, the babies hatch. At this point, the maternal duties of the mother are complete, and she goes to feed, leaving the hatchlings to disperse, and fend for themselves.

Diet and Habitat

Found throughout Northern New South Wales, and all the way to Cape York in Queensland, this species has one of the widest distributions of all snakes in Australia. With a preferred habitat of rainforests or eucalypt forests, it is not unknown of this snake to turn up in the middle of suburbia. They are known for living in the roof of houses, feeding on vermin.


 

The diets of Coastal Pythons includes mice, rats, birds, other snakes, flying foxes, possums and just about anything too slow to avoid capture. As a constrictor and a non venomous snake, he kills his prey by restriction and suffocation.

Information by Rhianna Blackthorn

 

Python hatching

Image by Brett Anderson

Python hatching

Image by Brett Anderson

Carpet Python protecting her eggs

John Stewart

Just out of the egg

John Stewart

Sharon McGrigor
Sharon McGrigor
Sharon McGrigor
Michael McGrath
Sharon McGrigor
Sue Ulyatt
Sue Ulyatt
Alicia Carter
Carpet python consuming a Mountain Brushtail possum
Leslee Hawley

Carpet python consuming a Red-Necked wallaby

 

Carpet python consuming a Red-Necked wallaby

Sue Ulyatt

 

 

This Coastal Carpet Python was called into our rescue hotline on 21 January, it was found lying in front of a chicken coup at Mcleods Shoot not moving when approached.

The property owner suspected it may have ingested a placebo plastic egg placed in the chicken coop some time previously.   

 

The unfortunate snake was rescued by a WIRES volunteer snake handler and after examination was driven to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital where x-ray confirmed the plastic egg was indeed lodged in the snake’s stomach.

 

A delicate operation to remove the egg was performed and the snake was brought back into WIRES care for recovery.

 

 

 

 

After 44 days in care the python finally shed it's skin and three days later it was released back in its home territory at Mcleods Shoot where it was welcomed back by the property owner.

 

Thank you to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for operating and saving the life of this beautiful animal.

 

 

Images by Currumbin Wildlife Hospital & WIRES volunteer Martin Fitzgerald

 

 

 

A discarded fishing net is a death trap for native animals. This Coastal Carpet python was lucky to be discovered struggling trying to get free of a discarded fishing net, unfortunately the more it struggled the worse the entanglement became.
WIRES snake handler was called and the snake was able to be released straight away after being cut free. Please ensure you take any discarded nets and fishing gear with you when your fishing trip is over, leaving rubbish behind can cause severe damage.
This python is 2.4 meters in length and now safely back in his territory.

 

 

 

Cleaning up the yard ended in tragedy for Matt when he accidentally fatally injured a large python curled up in the long grass. The reason she was curled up was soon discovered, eggs were found underneath her. Two eggs remained intact and Matt called WIRES asking could we help.

The eggs were collected by WIRES reptile handler Martin.

Martin took the eggs into care and the waiting game began as the eggs were properly incubated which for reptiles is quite specialised. Martin checked the eggs a few times every day and just 7 days later early in the morning the eggs were hatching.

Both pythons are doing well and will be released back to where they came from in the next few days.

Images shows the tiny pythons having a look at the world for the first time.

Thank you Matt for calling WIRES.

UPDATE

The little pythons were released back at Matts property a week after hatching. We hope they have a long and happy life.

 

 

 

 

 

Ethan from Alstonville had quite a surprise when he found a Python neatly curled up in his wardrobe on 19th January. On closer inspection he noticed a clutch of eggs under the snake.

WIRES was contacted and volunteer snake handler Josef arrived wondering why a python would have chosen such an usual nesting place, not the most hospitable being very hot and dry.

Josef knew straight away that there was something wrong with mother python. Being in an unsuitable environment for some time on her eggs she had failed to shed her already damaged skin, causing bad scarring, and deforming many of her scales.

A road trip to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital was in order. Once up there the vet advised that she must remain in care for treatment and close observation to ensure her skin condition improves and that she can eventually successfully shed her skin.

Josef drove back home where mum python was reunited with her eggs now located in more suitable nesting material.

On Wednesday 7 February the eggs started to hatch.

 

By 9th February 15 baby pythons had successfully hatched. All were released a few days later in a location close to where mum python had been found.
Mum python will stay in care till she has shed her damaged skin and is back in good health.

Thank you to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for treating this Python. Thank you Ethan for calling WIRES and ensuring the python and her eggs were attended to.

By Josef Kohlmetz

 

 

 

Snakes looking for love, sometimes in all the wrong places according to how we may wish to look at the situation.

WIRES was called by a lady asking if we could help relocate some pythons from her house, they were on the floor and although the lady was quite comfortable with them being around her house she was concerned that one seemed injured.

It is not unusual to find two pythons together at this time of the year, however our volunteer snake handler Martin was rather surprised when he arrived to find not two but a ball of four Coastal carpet pythons and another watching the action close by.

 

 

 

All but one was safely relocated outside, sadly the injured one escaped into the roof.

We will try to catch the injured Python if it reappears.

 

 

 

 

As Martin was about to leave the lady said "Oh! While you are here maybe you could remove the Brown tree snake that lives in the cupboard "......however the BTS wasn't home today.

By Martin Fitzgerald

 

 

 

New Years eve was a sad day for Claire, a resident at Newrybar.  A python was accidentally hit by a hedge trimmer, and a clump of 15 eggs were discovered under the snake.

 

 

Sadly the python died from its injuries, but the eggs were carefully collected and WIRES was called - could we possibly take the eggs into care and release the baby pythons back on the property if they were to hatch?

 

 

 

 

WIRES Volunteer snake handler Steve collected the eggs and they were taken into care, equipment and knowledge put into action for the eggs to incubate.
The waiting game began - would the eggs hatch?? It was hard to know how long ago they had been laid, but around 50 days would be the normal incubation period.

 

Finally, on the afternoon of 24 January it started to happen!

The first little noses started poking out through slits in the eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

By the next morning 13 healthy little baby pythons had turned their tub into a literal snake pit!

It was a sight to behold and only two eggs didn't make it - one had dried up early on and one baby python died inside the egg for an unknown reason. 13 out of 15 was a great result however, and that night all the baby pythons were released into a rock walk near where the eggs had been found back on the Newrybar property

.

 

Claire was delighted, as she had felt very close to the mama python that had been seen around the property for a long time before the accident.


 

 

 

 

Thank you for calling WIRES when the eggs were found, and thank you also for your generous donation Claire.

Images by Steve Berry and Claire

 

 

 

Back in February this Python was rescued following a call out to a macadamia farm at Rosebank, reporting a Python in the laundry.

When WIRES volunteer snake handler Martin arrived to relocate the Python he realised that the animal had some serious injuries.

The Python had evidently been run over by the lawn mower / slasher, sometime prior. He had four deep gashes about 30 cm apart down his body.
He was taken to the fabulous crew at Vitality Vet Care in Bangalow where his wounds were treated.

As the wounds were not recent they took extended time to heal, and as winter approached it became clear that he would have to stay in care until the coldest of the weather had passed.

Recent warm weather finally allowed for this beautiful animal to go home and on 15 August he was finally released.  
He came into care weighing 1500g and was released back to his home turf weighing 2050g; well set to cope back in the wild.

Image by Martin Fitzgerald

 

 

 

A 2.5-metre carpet python swallowed a sizeable dinner and then went looking for a safe place to snooze while digesting his meal.

Radio Rentals, recently relocated to Goonellabah from their former Lismore CBD location, had just the right thing -- an IT cabinet, comfortably warm and dry. Their new location in the industrial area is a bit more accessible to wildlife than their former space.

 

On duty at the shop that day, Dale was shocked to discover her reptilian visitor when she checked the computer equipment. She rang WIRES for help.
A WIRES snake handler arrived with the usual tools but in this tricky situation, they were of no use. Understandably, the business could not switch off their computer network connection. So the rescuer had to rescue the python using only her hands.

 

She worked for 20 minutes, slowly extricating the reluctant snake from the wires and router boxes. Once the rescuer had the head securely in her hand, Dale assisted by disentangling the remaining wires from the tail.

 

The rescuer said she was lucky the python was more docile than usual, probably due to the cold weather and the fact that the snake had eaten a large meal.

 

 

She released the snake immediately, next to a nearby creek. The python quickly slithered into the stream, swam across and settled on a sunny rock on the other side.

Images by Marion Nel

 

 

 

 

"Someone's been sleeping in my bed"

A Lismore resident spent the night sleeping on the couch after finding a fairly large Python asleep in her bed last night.

WIRES snake handler Marion said, after relocation the snake:
“The python was a very easy catch, was curled up fast asleep against MOP's headboard. Mop slept on the couch.

I could tell the snake was very unhappy with the wet ground when I released him as he quickly found a suitable tree and twirled his way up, rested his head on a thin branch and went back to sleep”

Images by Marion Nel

 

 

 

Darren Keane a photographer from Melbourne was in the Northern Rivers area recently. On his way to Protester Falls about 5 Kim's past The Channon Darren came across a Coastal carpet python slowly crossing Terania Creek Rd. Knowing that the reptile was in danger on the road he stopped to slow approaching traffic, however he had not intended to offer the stranger a lift....
As Darren was diverting traffic 'Monty' sought refuge in in his cars engine bay.

Following the advice and efforts of some friendly locals Darren called WIRES for help.
On arrival the WIRES reptile handler found that Monty had moved from the engine bay to the suspension coil above the front wheel.

 

Monty had secured a solid hold and was not keen to give up his new found security. Following over an hour of persuasion by WIRES reptile handler it was decided that the score was Python 1, humans 0, the python was not about to move any time soon..


Driver and rescuer retreated taking the tourist back to his accommodation in Byron Bay and leaving Monty with the car to consider his position with a view to moving on.

 


The following day found Monty still enjoying his new found home now back in the engine bay.
The following 90 minutes involved advice from mechanics, removal of some hosing, a firm hold on the python by the handler and a gentle massage for the snake by the driver and then on que Monty, realising he was in safe hands, relinquished his hold and surrendered to his rescuers.


 

Following a thorough check for injury and ensuring full body movement Monty was relocated close by in a sunny spot to heat up and resume his life in the wild.

A big thank you goes out to Darren for remaining so relaxed and keeping the python at the forefront of his thoughts through the process, however next time he stops to help a snake he will park his car a few meters further away.

 

 

 

Almost 24 hours after Darren and Monty crossed paths both were back on their merry way.

Image credit Darren Keane Photography

 

 

 

 

A Clunes resident, clearing his shed to prepare for a garage sale, was stopped short by the discovery of a carpet snake, comfortably settled in with her eggs. He called WIRES for help.

Snakes are territorial but they learn to stay out of our way. They know the food, water and shelter in their territory and learn the daily movements of the resident humans. Because that part of the shed was rarely disturbed, the snake believed it was a safe place to nest.

Snakes are protected by law as they play an important role in the environment. Snakes and other reptiles make up a significant proportion of the middle-order predators that keep our natural ecosystems working. Without them the numbers of prey species would increase to unnatural levels and predators that eat snakes would struggle to find food.

The shed owner agreed to place a cardboard box over the nest and work around her. The eggs are expected to hatch soon and the bubs will disperse within 1 to 2 weeks. The owner was pleased with the outcome and sent photos to WIRES with this message:
"Lovely to meet you today. Here are photos of our girl in the shed. Very happy with our decision to leave her be and work around her."
He will monitor the situation and report progress to WIRES, including a final count -- about 20 eggs are anticipated.

 

A few weeks later John reported back with pictures that the eggs had hatched and 15 little pythons dispersed.

Hatchling python
15 empty egg casings left behind

Thank you to John Stewart for sending pictures before and after and for allowing this python to do her job undisturbed

Images by John Stewart


 

 

A discarded fishing net is a death trap for native animals. This Coastal Carpet python was lucky to be discovered struggling trying to get free of a discarded fishing net, unfortunately the more it struggled the worse the entanglement became.
WIRES snake handler was called and the snake was able to be released straight away after being cut free. Please ensure you take any discarded nets and fishing gear with you when your fishing trip is over, leaving rubbish behind can cause severe damage.
This python is 2.4 meters in length and now safely back in his territory.

 

 

Updated January 11 2018  

Webmaster: Susanne Ulyatt

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