A very large and rare species of Morelia, a genus of the Pythonidae family. Adults grow up to 4 m in length. The color pattern is dark olive-brown with darkened blotches. The belly is pale and dull, varying from cream to yellow. It is an ambush predator that remains motionless for long periods, waiting for prey such as possum or large macropods. The mammal becomes asphyxiated as the snake coils itself around it.
The species occurs in a restricted range in the Northern Territory, in the sandstone outcrops of western Arnhem Land. The species is found in habitat is located on a sandstone massif, in the regions surrounding the upper reaches of the Cadell, South Alligator and East Alligator rivers. They are territorial animals who roam between discrete positions, such as overhangs and caves in sandstone gorges or in a shady tree. Sightings are also reported in the region's woodland, heathland, and open rocky plains. It is noted as having an association with the Kombalgie sandstone gorges.
The total population is poorly surveyed, and no study has been made of the rate of its decline. This is partly due to the inaccessibility of the region, a factor that may help the preservation of the species. The conservation status of Morelia oenpelliensis is listed by the Northern Territory Government as vulnerable to extinction. This has been evaluated by known threatening factors, such as altered land use and fire regimes, and population inferred from the relative abundance of its prey. This is estimated to be below 10,000, which is inferred from several factors. As a large predator, the species is particularly vulnerable to declines in available prey. These larger mammals more susceptible to changes in land use and threats such as introduced species. Suitable habitat is also limited in the distribution range of the species. The species is known to be illegally collected for private use, which is likely to impact on some subpopulations. This threat is limited by the inaccessibility of its habitat, the same factor that has restricted study of the species. Variation and decline in subpopulations has not been fully evaluated. It is found within a conservation reserve known as Kakadu National Park.
Morelia oenpelliensis was first described in 1977, the author placing it in the genus Python. This was recognised by Cogger and Cameron as a species of Morelia. The name is derived from the type locality, which is given as "6.5 km S.W. of Oenpelli, Northern Territory, Australia (12°21'S, 133°01'E)."
- List of pythonid species and subspecies.
- Pythonidae by common name.
- Pythonidae by taxonomic synonyms.
- ↑ Template:ITIS
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 Woinarsk, John. Oenpelli python. Morelia oenpelliensis. Threatened Species of the Northern Territory. Northern Territory Government. Archived from the original on 2008-08-29. Retrieved on 2008-10-22.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 Template:Cite book
- ↑ Cite error: Invalid
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