Boelens Python

The Black Python (Morelia boeleni), which is also commonly known as the Boelen’s Python, is one of the world’s least-known pythons. Its gorgeous coloring makes it a favorite of reptile collectors around the world, but it fares poorly in captivity outside of its natural habitat.

This diurnal species is native only to West Papua and Papua New Guinea in Indonesia. Its local names include the following:

  • ular hitam
  • sanca bulan
  • hitam wallow
  • wallow
  • papa graun moran
  • blu moran
  • papua sanca moon

It is found in mid-mountain forests at elevations of 7500-8500 ft. (2286-2591 m) along the Jayawijaya Mountain range. Some specimens, however, have been reported in specific locales from the Bird’s Head Peninsula to Goodenough Island. Temperatures in these environments are much cooler than most known python habitats. Adults feed mainly on small mammals and an occasional bird. Hatchlings eat small rodents, bats, and small lizards.

Boelen’s pythons are large, thick-bodied, smooth-scaled snakes with a striking color pattern of radiating white or yellow lines running vertically across a dorsal black background that has a purplish-blue iridescent sheen. A line stretches along the underside, which has irregular markings in yellow or white. They have large eyes with vertical pupils, and they on average measure from 6-8 feet (1.80-2.40 m) in length. As neonates they are mostly red, changing to red and yellow as they grow.

The Black Python is protected because of its limited distribution, habitat destruction, and over collection and hunting. It is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) as “protected but not endangered”. Although trading is allowed, the Boelen’s python is the most protected reptile in Papua New Guinea.

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