headed python is a very common snake to see.
It is found in the northern half of
Australia, including Cape York peninsula.
During the cooler months
(which is the high season for Cape York trips), this snake (Aspidites melanocephalus)
becomes active during
the day time and often
crosses roads and tracks, so it is easy to see, without any effort,
through your car window.
It is also one of the most distinctive snakes, easy to recognise thanks
to its black head
and striped body
and a thin tip of tail.
And it is harmless, non
venomous and usually reluctant to bite.
bite, though, and should always be handled with respect
like all other
Harmless Snake But It Can Bite
Season and particularly the build-up, when the climate is hot, black headed python is nocturnal, but during the cooler months it is
easy to come
across it during the day time.
Some people, knowing it is a python
which are harmless snakes,
will go close disturbing it.
You know it's getting too much for it when it starts hissing loudly.
It can also open its
mouth or strike
with a head butt,
even though it is
generally reluctant to
Bites have happened, however, and although
not poisonous, these snakes have powerful jaws and
can deliver a
painful bite that may get infected and take time to heal.
Not a good
thing to happen if you are somewhere remote.
Appearance and Thermoregulation
known as rock python
and tar pot snake, this python grows up to three metres
long and weighs up to 7kg, but is usually smaller, about one and a half to two metres
long and weighs 3-4kg.
It has a slender body,
flattened, and its tail is thin.
It has a stripy pattern,
and colouring varies from shades of grey to brown (some apparently also
creamish, and even orangeish or yellow - those are more found in
Whatever the exact colouring, the black headed python always has a very distinctive
shiny black head,
throat and neck.
It is believed that the black
drawing the heat more efficiently than the rest of its body, serves as a solar panel
the rest of the body even if it's only the head that is exposed to the
That helps the snake to hide from predators, leaving the rest of
the body in its burrow.
Range and Habitat of Black
headed python is found
roughly in the northern
Australia, including the Pilbara and Kimberley
regions in Western
Australia, northern and eastern half of Northern
Territory, and most of Queensland
(with the only exception of the very south).
They prefer humid to
semi arid areas
and avoid the driest regions like inland Western Australia and western
They live in coastal eucalypt forests, shrubland, heathland and
deserts, and they particluarly like rocky
areas and places near
under and amongst rocks and debris, in caves and rock crevices, in hollow logs, burrows and soil cracks, and
Diet and Breeding
other snakes, black
are carnivores, and they eat
they can get - frogs, birds, small mammals, but they particularly like other reptiles,
such as lizards
and other snakes
ones, such as king
Like other pythons, they don't need poison to kill, they coil around the prey and
Coiling is also used by females when incubatingtheir eggs, which they do for a few
months a year.
That happens during the hottest
of the year - the late Dry - the so-called build-up
occurs during the
coolest months (June-July), and five to ten eggs are laid per
Once they hatch, the
start catching insects and small prey.
They are vulnerable
to predation, even
cannibalism, and they take up to five years to mature.
The individuals that do survive have not many predators except dingos.
Get this 50 pages guide totally for FREE. It
contains information that helps you getting started with planning of your trip.
You get to make early-stages desicions such as when to go, how long time you
should take, how to get
there and get
to stay (general info), what
will it cost..
and a short insight to what is there to see and do in Cape York.
This complete 300 pages
travel guide is all you need before and during your trip. Besides the
background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks, at least 30 guaranteed FREE camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to the Cape), at least 40 best swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things - from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception, how to deal with the national parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery gear by my partner Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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