Rock Python - Phyton sebae natalensis

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Average Length: 3-4 m

Names in other languages
Afrikaans: Luislang

Look for:
  • Large, bulky snake
  • Heat-sensory pits on upper lip
  • Large, dark spearhead mark on back of head


Venom Type: Not Poisonous

First Aid

The large recurved teeth can inflict a nasty wound, with a possibility of blood-poisoning if wounds are not immediately washed and treated. Wounds should be watched for signs of sepsis and medical advice sought.


It is an agile tree climber and very fond of water, where it may lie submerged for long periods, head exposed, waiting to catch prey coming to drink. It  will rather escape than attack but if escape is not possible, will attack with aggression. The Rock python holds prey with its powerful teeth and constricts it; it does not crush its prey and never breaks any bones. They control rodent populations especially dassies and cane rats. Attacks readily in self defense and can inflict serious bites which has to be treated for infection.


Prey includes dassies, cane rats, hares, monkeys and small antelope. Prey is ambushed, usually at dusk or after dark, sometimes from water. Can remain submerged for long periods.

In Natal the killing and swallowing of a young bush-buck by an African python of 5 metres in length was observed. A herd of five bushbuck approached a pool near where the python was lying. As the buck drew closer the python became alert, flicked out its tongue, shifted nearer to the pool, positioned itself alongside an animal track and hid beneath a growth of low bushes. When the buck lowered their heads to drink, the snake adjusted its coils to form a base, above which its raised head and neck formed an S-pattern, preparatory to striking. It stays in this position until the buck finished drinking and started their journey. As they passed near the snake it singled out a young one, struck speedily and obtained a grip on the animalís neck. Initially, the buck managed to drag the snake for several meters in a bid for freedom, but unsuccessfully as three coils rapidly entwined its body, causing it to fall exhausted to the ground. Apart from a few spasmodic kicks and shudders it soon succumbed to the muscular pressure forcing the air from its lungs.

As soon as it was dead, the python released its hold, eased its coils, investigated its prey with customary flicking of the tongue, finally gripped the muzzle and started to swallow. Gradually the snake slipped its mouth over the buckís head and small, sharp horns, soon to encompass the carcass as its flexible mouth, head, neck and body expanded to seemingly impossible dimensions to achieve the task, during which it often paused momentarily as if reconsidering the wisdom of continuing. As the hind hoofs disappeared, the snakeís powerful muscles gradually pushed its meal downwards into its stomach. At this stage the forked tongue again flicked as the bloated killer inched back to its lair for a long digestive sleep. It emerged two weeks later, decidedly slimmer and ready for the next meal.

An unwary python is regarded as a tasty meal by a crocodile. Pythons are often attacked whilst swimming across crocodile-infested rivers, If necessary, a crocodile will unhesitatingly crawl from a river to snatch a python it has seen on the river bank. When frantic threshing took place on river bank a crocodile was found with a very battered python in its jaws, shaking the snake violently from side to side before dragging the bloody carcass into the river and gulping it down.


Oviparous. Lays 30-50 eggs which hatches between two and three months.


Mongooses, suricates, crocodiles, wild dogs and even hyaenas.


This snake prefers rocky outcrops in arid and moist savanna as well as in lowland forest.


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