Diamond Python Morelia spilota spilota

Snakes of Victoria series

Identification

The Diamond Python, Morelia spilota spilota, is a large species with more than 40 rows of mid-body scales. It has a basic colour pattern of black with yellow spots and grows to around 3 m in length.

Photo of Diamond Python

Diamond Python
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

Within Victoria, the Diamond Python is restricted to the coastal heaths of far East Gippsland.

Biology and bite

Diamond Pythons will bask during the day, but are primarily nocturnal and hunt for small to medium-sized, warm-blooded vertebrates at night. The females lay a clutch of 10 to 30 eggs in a cluster and care for them. The pythons are the only Victorian snakes to exhibit any form of parental care.

Diamond Pythons are non-venomous, but are capable of inflicting a painful bite. They kill their prey by constriction.

Photo of Diamond Python (close-up of head)

Diamond Python (close-up of head)
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Further Reading

Coventry, A. J. and Robertson, P. 1991. The Snakes of Victoria – A Guide to their Identification. Department of Conservation & Environment/Museum of Victoria.

Cogger, H. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.

Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2003. Reptiles of Australia. Princeton University Press.

Comments (46)

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Sean 21 October, 2009 22:34
Hi there. I have just inherited a diamond snake due to the passing of my best friend. I have no previous knowledge of caring for a snake and could do with some help. Any information will assist. Many Thanks, Sea.
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Discovery Centre 23 October, 2009 12:07

Hi Sean. Thanks for your enquiry. We will pass this on to one of our staff members in live exhibits for their feedback on this. So watch this space.

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Discovery Centre 24 October, 2009 11:54

Hi again Sean. We referred your enquiry about Diamond Python care to our Coordinator, Live Exhibits. We have similar snakes to these pythons and he referred us to a website that has good, reliable, detailed information on Diamond Python care: http://www.dolittlefarm.com.au/docs/diamonds.pdf

We hope this helps you out and good luck!

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kate tomkins 3 November, 2009 15:11
i was wondering what type of habitat the diamond python lives in
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tony rees 23 December, 2009 13:24
I live in albion park nsw. A 1.5-2 m diamond python was in the back yard. The snake catcher came & captured it. He said it was wild.
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Loraine 15 January, 2010 12:25
I live in Nth Qld and my dogs cornered a diamond python. It was 3m long. It bit my dog who screamed but is fine. I am sure it was a diamond by your photos. Is it possible for it to be this far north.
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Mick 22 October, 2014 12:54
I live in far north Queensland as well (Redlynch, outer suburb of Cairns) and have come across a python of this description as well. It was of interest as i carry a wildlife of FNQ book with me and there was no mention of this snake. It was quite distinct in its patterns, nothing i have ever seen on my daily walks before. Is it possible it may be a released pet? I didn't have my camera with me unfortunately.
Discovery Centre 24 January, 2010 16:44

Hi Kate, thanks for your enquiry, the Diamond Python, Morelia spilota spilota is usually found in the coastal regions of NSW (Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, H. C. Cogger, 2000).  Another subspecies, morelia spilota variegate, commonly known as a Carpet Python is found in northern Queensland.

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Discovery Centre 24 January, 2010 16:54

Hi Lorraine, you will see from the information posted previously, the Diamond Python is usually found in the coastal area of New South Wales and the Carpet Python sometimes found in Northern Queensland.  You may find contacting the Queensland Museum or Brisbane's Alma Park Zoo helpful with providing a scientific identification of the snake.

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Carlo Barberini 14 May, 2010 20:20
I live in Australia and have just bought a 7ft Diamond cross Jungle python, the ex owner tells me the snake is 4.5 years old and was hand reared except for the last 6 months due to her pregnancy, she says the diamond python is very tame, is it possible that 6 months of not handling the snake could make it wild again, she insists this is not the case....but I wonder .....can anyone help ?
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Discovery Centre 20 May, 2010 13:25

Hi Carlo - we referred your question to our Live Exhibits experts, who said that six months without handling may make the snake a little more nervous. However if it was quiet previously it should remain pretty quiet – particularly at a mature age.  Most good tempered adult pythons remain so for life.

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Chris 8 June, 2010 05:21
hi i have a 6 month old high yellow diamond (it is a beautiful snake) i will be going overseas for 6 weeks and live in sydney. Firstley are there snake sitters that can look after it while im gone that you can put me in contact with, secondly if my father does look after it he will online feed it not handle it, will the snake become wild considering it has been handled everyday for the last 5 months that i have owned it?
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Deleena 2 January, 2011 14:56
hi, i have a male diamond python he is about 2 meter long and 3 years old...he is very healthy n active but in the last couple of days he has begun to get this whitish discolouation under eath him and his eyes r very glazed..i am worried about him can u plz help???
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Discovery Centre 5 January, 2011 13:26

Hi Deleena, if you have not had this snake for all that long you are possibly experiencing its first slough. This is when it peels back its old scales to reveal the new ones underneath. Pythons tend to do this in one long sock so you can dry the old scales and keep them to monitor its growth. Once they start to shed their scales it is best to leave them to it. Sometimes, they struggle to get them off in which case a water bath, some rocks and some manual help may be required.

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sean 14 June, 2011 14:15
I want a snake.
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rhino 21 June, 2011 13:24
the diadmond phython is awesome
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James 22 November, 2011 07:26
can you send me photos of gravid diamonds as they are hard to find and can you tell me do they role on to there backs belly up when gravid like other pythons. i beleive my snake to be gravid but she is not displaying any signs that i have seen in other breeds ta
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Bronwyn Kershler 8 January, 2012 09:26
Hi, we "lost" a caged parrot in very weird circumstances. The large cage is outside at the edge of our garden. We found many bird feathers (body feathers only, no tail or flight feather) in the bottom corner of the cage and none outside the cage. No blood either. The bird is gone. The cage has a cleaning flap at the bottom. The only explanation we can think of is a snake. No other hunter type animal could enter and exit the cage. Whatever happened happened inside the cage and there is no remainder of the bird. We live in a Sydney suburb, Croydon, not near natural bush. Could we have a snake ? maybe an escaped pet python from? Any thoughts on this?
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Discovery Centre 12 January, 2012 09:57

Hi Bronwyn,

We forwarded your enquiry to our Live Exhibits team, and they responded with the following:

Snakes are not the only potential culprit. Rats are well known for attacks like this, as are possums. They are usually smart enough to work out how to open cages and will simply carry the bird out and eat it somewhere else.

If a snake entered the cage and ate the bird it is unlikely that it would be able to get out afterwards. Many people have in fact used bird cages to trap escaped snakes as they snake enters the cage and then is too large to escape once it has eaten the occupant.

If a snake is to blame it is most likely a Diamond python native to the Sydney region.

 

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Jen 29 January, 2012 17:22
Hi, I live on the central coast of NSW & had a large diamond python take residence in my front yard over xmas. It stayed about a week moving to different spots around my front door. Just last night my indoor cats managed to maim a juvenile diamond python in my kitchen which unfortunately died. It was 2 foot long, are you able to tell me how old it would be at this size and how many young in a clutch? We need to know if we need to search for & possible move more young snakes?
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Discovery Centre 2 February, 2012 17:06

Hi Jen,

We forwarded your question to Museum Victoria’s Live Exhibits team who provided us with the following information:

A two foot long diamond python would be approximately 12 months old, and has most likely wandered into the home as it has moved from its place of birth looking to set up its own territory. Clutches of 20 eggs are not uncommon but mortality in juvenile snakes is very high, with only a small percentage surviving to adulthood.

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Michelle 19 March, 2012 22:08
Hi, my husband has recently bought an 18 month old diamond python, and would like to enquire about the ideal temperature in its enclosure. Its currently set to around 28 degrees at the bottom of the enclosure. Is this an ideal temperature? Thanks in advance
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Discovery Centre 20 March, 2012 16:52

The ideal temperature for a snake of this type is 20 degrees overnight temperature and about 24-25 during the day. The bottom of the enclosure is the coolest part, so it will always be warmer higher up (as heat rises). There should also be a warm spot available for a couple of hours in the middle of the day, to allow the snake to bask as it would naturally. A warm spot is most easily supplied by a basking lamp on a timer, which enables the snake to move back and forth into the most suitable location temperature-wise.

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Andy 11 April, 2012 06:08
Just had 4 weeks traveling around SW and came across a Diamond Python on our travels in Booderee NP. It was about 3feet in length. We weren't sure if it was venemous or not so gave it a wide berth, it was just basking in the sun. Managed to get a few photo's of it.
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Mel 30 April, 2012 13:17
I will be getting a Diamond python off a guy who has been feeding then live skinks from his back yard there about 14weeks old & have only just started to eat pinkies should I keep feeding it those or velvets or fluffies?
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Discovery Centre 4 May, 2012 11:29

Hi Mel,

We forwarded your enquiry to the Museum's Live Exhibits team, who responded with the following information:

Diamond Pythons can feed on fuzzies (velvets) from the egg stage. If they do have any problems feeding you can always revert to pinkies, but there’s no reason why they shouldn’t take fuzzies. The snake will grow in size proportional to the amount of food it consumes – a 14 week old python can eat once a week, and you can try adult mice any time from now on. If it doesn’t take adult mice, keep feeding it fuzzies until it does.

Skinks are native wildlife (including those from your own backyard) so it’s illegal to collect them for any reason without a licence. It’s also not necessary as there are plenty of other food options available, and there is definitely no need to feed them live in this situation.

 

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Karen 15 January, 2013 17:35
Hi, i was just wondering if you know what kind of adaptations that this snake has when it comes to its water conservation.
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Discovery Centre 21 January, 2013 14:36

Hi Karen,

Diamond Pythons are restricted to coastal areas of eastern Australia and don't inhabit arid or semi-arid areas, so they have no particular adaptations to water conservation. Various types of Carpet Pythons, members of the same species as Diamond Pythons but different subspecies, do inhabit the drier areas of the country. Diamond Pythons will sit in water and can generally tolerate wetter conditions than Carpet Pythons.

kiana 30 July, 2013 12:58
hi im kiana how many babys can they have and how long are they pregnant for and how much will it cost for them to have babys in queensland?
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Discovery Centre 3 August, 2013 10:12

Hi Kiana,

Female diamond pythons lay between 15-20 eggs, which usually take between 2-3 months to hatch.  The females lay their eggs approximately 2 months after breeding takes place and they incubate their eggs at 25OC by coiling around the eggs.  Female snakes in the wild may only lay eggs once every three years.  Breeding pythons can be a complex procedure as specific temperature changes and habitat are vitally important at each stage of the breeding cycle. If you need to investigate getting a permit to own these animals please refer to the relevant information here.

rie 1 August, 2013 14:36
We are living in southern NSW along the east coast up in the bush. We have recently noticed a diamond python sunbathing on the tin roof of our house. After an hour or so it moved away and went into the roof cavity. We were happy to let it be as it is native to the area and will help reduce the rat/mouse problem. However the following day we found that the snake over night had been into the house and shed its skin. My question is we have a four month old daughter, is it possible for the python to try and constrict her thinking she is a possum? Might be a silly question but hoping to have my mind put at ease.
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Discovery Centre 5 August, 2013 10:53
Hi Rie - The average Diamond Python would not be capable of consuming prey larger than a big rat or small rabbit. There are much larger pythons in Australia, such as Carpet Pythons and Olive Pythons, capable of feeding on small wallabies, but there's never been a record of humans of any age being at risk. Overseas species such as Boa Constrictors and Reticulated Pythons have been recording killing and consuming humans, but their size puts our pythons to shame.
Andrew 14 November, 2013 12:56
Hi I live in NSW on the coast. I have a breeding pair of diamond pythons however the female has only laid 4 eggs and is quite fat in the tail region still. I was wondering if this sort of low egg production means she is internally sick or is still harbouring some eggs inside her? Any info would be greatly appreciated.
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Discovery Centre 16 November, 2013 14:20
Hi Andrew, whilst Diamond Pythons (Morelia spilota) usually lay between 10 and 20 eggs per clutch, young females may lay fewer at first and there may also be fewer per clutch for a number of other reasons (nutrition, for example). It's also possible for there to be a delay between eggs produced within a clutch, although this is unusual.

The 'tail' of the python is the area posterior to the cloaca - the very end of the snake. Eggs are produced further up the snake, so a fat tail may indicate a well-fed snake rather than anything to do with eggs production.

Steven 11 December, 2013 09:18
My snake recently laid 18 eggs tho all arnt white and the mother layed them in various areas! Does this mean some of the eggs haven't developed properly?? And would I be best to just incubate them?
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Jane 11 December, 2013 23:19
when a diamond python has laid her egg's, how long does it take for her stomach to go back to normal ?
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Steve 29 January, 2014 13:48
Found a Diamond back on neighbours roof of Glen Iris .Picked him/her up and took to local police station (Camberwell ), no other help available ??? Just posting here in case anyone has lost it , given the authorities aren't always very helpful!! Looked well fed and healthy and didn't mind being picked up too much , cheers Steve
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Pam 14 February, 2014 22:35
A 1.5 metre diamond python has take up residence under my covered BBQ on my deck. I think this is wonderful. However I have native bush rats an possums coming onto my deck at night, including rare and gentle black possums. I leave nature alone but the black possums have been with me (4 of them) for about six years and I worry about one of them being taken by the python. They are larger than the ringtails. Are they safe with the python?
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Discovery Centre 17 February, 2014 13:12

Hi Pam,

Diamond Pythons (Morelia spilota spilota) will usually feed on rat-sized prey but have been known to take possums. If the python is to live in your garden it will need to eat, just as the rats and possums do, and is as much a part of the local ecosystem as they are.

Monica 19 August, 2014 15:37
This past weekend a snake came in my house thru the doggie door & ate one of my canaries. Although my backyard is has a lot of trees with a wooden deck., this is the first time we have ever experienced a snake on our property. The snake was trapped in our cage. Since I have 4 dogs its necessary for us to keep the doggie door open at night. But I am afraid that my other canaries will be in danger. Should I assume there are more snakes that can in my doggie door? Or was this a one time ordeal? This is the first time we have encountered a snake on our property in 15yrs. I am afraid for my other 5 canaries. Please help...
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Teish 17 September, 2014 01:01
Hi, was just wondering does a size difference matter when breeding diamond pythons? The female is about 5ft - 6ft and the male is about 7ft - 8ft. Thanks
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Discovery Centre 22 September, 2014 14:26
Hi Teish - Our Live Exhibits manager says that the difference in size of pythons is not a major issue, particularly when the size difference is not great (as in your case). Females are usually bigger than males at the same age. It's more important that they are both old enough and, in the case of the female, that she is physiologically ready to breed.
julie-anne taylor 10 November, 2014 15:47
i need to know what ethical considerations is there for a diamond snake please can you help me on this
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kahla 17 November, 2014 22:54
Hi today i had to get a snake catcher out due to a python living in our front garden im terifed now she was pregnant he said but hadnt laid eggs will the male be around ???
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brodie douglas 28 November, 2014 17:51
Hi just wondering my high yellow diamond python has eaten every week and shed every 8 weeks she is 11 months feeding on adult mice and just wanting to know when I can start her on hopper rats
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Discovery Centre 4 December, 2014 10:40
Hi Brodie, if the python is feeding on adult mice there's no reason it won't take hopper rats. Right now is a good time to give it a try.