Some estimates put the population of the Oenpelli python at less than 10,000 individuals.
The Oenpelli python, (Python oenpelliensis) described by some as the rarest python in the world, has been added to the Australian Reptile Park’s snake collection as part of a captive breeding program. The park recently took in three pythons and officials are hoping they will successfully breed. The snake is native to Australia’s sandstone massif area in the Northern Territory of Australia, specifically the western Arnhem land region.
“We are so excited to acquire such a rare snake and to learn more about the species behaviour and help raise the species profile," Australian Reptile Park General Manager Tim Faulkner told the Daily Telegraph.
“We are also excited to help with the conservation of this species and to secure this species in captivity. We are losing mammals in Kakadu (Kakadu National Park) at an increased rate which means more and more Oenpelli pythons will disappear once their food source (small mammals) are all gone.”
Faulkner just concluded a herping expedition in search of the elusive snake and failed to locate a single specimen.
A breeding program that was started in 2012, produced two captive bred snakes in 2015. It is hoped that the snakes, which are now part of the breeding program in partnership with the Central Coast wildlife sanctuary, Kakadu traditional land owners, and Oenpelli breeder Gavin Bedford, are more successful in producing offspring to bolster their numbers.
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The Oenpelli python grows to more than 4 meters in length but is thin in proportion to their length, when comparedf to other pythons. The nocturnal snakes are known to change colors, from light olive brown at night to dark olive brown during the day. They are known to feed on birds and medium to large mammals such as possums and marsupials. The python is also known for its massive eggs, which at 110.5 by 60 mm are almost twice the size of the related amethystine python (Morelia amethystina) eggs, which are 70–98 by 45–56 mm. Let's hope that the snakes produce lots of babies this year.