Aspidites melanocephalus, the Black-headed Python,[1] is a species of snake in the family Pythonidae (the python family) that is native to Australia. No subspecies are currently recognized.[2]

Taxonomic nomenclatureEdit

The taxonomic reference (Gr. Aspidites "shield bearer" melanocephalus "Black-headed") relates to the two large shield shaped scales on the top of the snakes head and the dark scales of the head and neck.


File:Blackheaded python2.jpg
Adults grow to an average of 5 to 8.25 ft (1.5 to 2m) in length,[3] but can grow to a maximum length of 2.5m, although average specimens are slightly smaller. The body is muscular with a flattened profile, while the tail tapers to a thin point.

The dorsal scales, which are smooth and glossy, number 50-65 rows at midbody, while there are 315-355 ventral scales. The tail has 60-75 mainly single subcaudal scales and the anal scale is single. The posterior subcaudals tend to be divided, often irregularly.

The color pattern consists of shades of black and dark grey, brown, gold and cream arranged in a striped or brindled pattern. The belly light-coloured, flecked with darker spots. The head is covered in shiny black scales that also extend down the neck and throat for several inches.

Geographic rangeEdit

Found in Australia in the northern half of the country, excluding the very arid regions. The type locality given is "Port Denison [Bowen]" [Queensland, Australia].[4]


Occurs in humid tropical to semi-arid conditions.



These snakes are terrestrial and are often found in amongst rocks and loose debris. If disturbed, they will hiss loudly, but are unlikely to bite unless hunting prey. They will sometimes strike with a closed mouth, but generally can be handled easily. They are strong swimmers, but are almost never found inside water. They are non-venomous.


The diet consists of mainly reptiles but will eat mammals if available. Because they live in the desert they heat up a lot quicker and they stay warmer for longer, meaning they can eat more because they digest food quicker in warmer conditions.


Oviparous, with 5-10 eggs per clutch. The females stay coiled about the eggs and incubate them until they hatch, which is usually after 2-3 months. The young will take small prey as soon as two days after hatching. Immature individuals are vulnerable to predation, including cannibalism. Adults have no natural predators other than dingos and humans.


Due to its docile nature and striking color pattern, this species has become very desirable as an exotic pet. It is bred in captivity and can be relatively easily obtained, but does command a high price. As they can be muscular snakes and reach a fairly substantial size, prospective owners should consider a suitable enclosure, as well as temperature and feeding requirements.

In human cultureEdit

These snakes are mentioned in, or play a central role in, the stories of the Indigenous Australians Dreamtime tradition.

See alsoEdit


  1. Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
  2. Template:ITIS
  3. Burnie D, Wilson DE. 2001. Animal. Dorling Kindersley. 624 pp. ISBN 0-7894-7764-5.
  4. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named McD99

External linksEdit


fr:Aspidites melanocephalus it:Aspidites melanocephalus lt:Juodagalvis pitonas hu:Feketefejű piton ja:ズグロニシキヘビ no:Svarthodepyton pl:Pyton czarnogłowy pt:Aspidites melanocephalus zh:盾蟒

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