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Adults grow to an average length of about 1m (~3ft), with a maximum of 1.5m (~5ft). The crown scales are enlarged while those on the body are small and smooth, with a rainbow sheen that can be seen when exposed to direct sunlight.
Dorsum brown with darker spots in five or six longitudinal series. A dark streak on each side of the head, passing through the eye. Lips yellowish, spotted with brown. Ventrum uniformly yellowish.
Head distinct from neck. Nostril superolateral, in a large semidivided nasal. Eye moderate in size, with vertical pupil. Body slightly laterally compressed. Tail short.
Smooth dorsal scales arranged in 41 to 45 rows. Ventrals 257-287; anal plate entire; subcaudals 38-53, all or mostly in two rows.
Rostral broader than high, barely visible from above. Internasals slightly longer than broad, shorter than the anterior prefrontals. Second pair of prefrontals in contact at midline or separated by a small shield. These posterior prefrontals sometimes broken into several shields. Frontal 1½ times as long as broad, slightly shorter than its distance from the end of the snout, longer than the small parietals. 3 to 10 small loreal shields, some almost granular. 11 to 13 upper labials. Three or four of the posterior lower labials with deep pits.
Anterior maxillary teeth and mandibular teeth very long, gradually decreasing in size posteriorly. Premaxillary bone also with teeth.
Found in Australia in the extreme north of Western Australia, the northern third of Northern Territory, and northeastern Queensland. Also on the islands of the Torres Strait. The type locality given is "?" Listed as "N.W. Australia" in the catalogue of the British Museum of Natural History and as unknown in Stimson (1969).
The diet consists of reptiles, birds and small mammals, particularly microbats which they catch by dangling from stalactites in caves, which they commonly inhabit, and snatch them out of the air as they fly past.
Oviparous, with up to 25 eggs per clutch. Females brood their eggs through a seven week incubation period by coiling around them and occasionally shivering to keep them warm, which also affords the eggs some protection from predators. Juveniles are heavily blotched, but gradually become reddish brown or brown as they mature.
Often kept as a pet due to its good nature and less demanding requirements. The lifespan of captive specimens has been known to exceed 30 years. Juveniles are fed on pinky mice (baby, hairless mice), while larger individuals can be fed on adult mice or small rats. Feeding should occur roughly once a fortnight.
Anterisia childreni is one of four species of Antaresia, a genus of the family Pythonidae named after the star Antares. John Edward Gray published the original description of the species in 1842, naming it Liasis childreni. The specific epithet, conserved in the current name, is in honour of Gray's mentor, John George Children, a curator of the zoological collection at the British Museum around that time. No subspecies are currently recognized. Some species of the genus Altaresia were formerly assigned to the genus Morelia.
- List of pythonid species and subspecies
- Pythonidae, valid scientific names
- Pythonidae by taxonomic synonyms
- Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Containing the Families Typhlopidæ, Glauconidæ, Boidæ, Ilysiidæ, Uropeltidæ, Xenopeltidæ, and Colubridæ Aglyphæ, Part. Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). London. p. 77.
- The Reptile Database. www.reptile-database.org.
- Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
- Boulenger, G.A. 1893. Catalogue of the Snakes in the British Museum (Natural History). Volume I., Contaning the Families ...Boidæ... Trustees of the British Museum (Natural History). London. pp. 76-78, 418, Plate IV. fig. 1.
- McDiarmid RW, Campbell JA, Touré T. 1999. Snake Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, vol. 1. Herpetologists' League. 511 pp. ISBN 1-893777-00-6 (series). ISBN 1-893777-01-4 (volume).
- "Antaresia childreni". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. http://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=634764. Retrieved 19 September 2007.
- Gray, J.E. 1842. Synopsis of the species of prehensile-tailed snakes, or family Boidae. Zoological Miscellany. London. Vol. 2, pp. 41-46.
- "IUCN Red List of Threatened Species". http://www.iucnredlist.org/search/search.php?freetext=Antaresia+childreni&modifier=phrase&criteria=wholedb&taxa_species=1&redlistCategory%5B%5D=all&country%5B%5D=all&cty_default=1&aquatic%5B%5D=all&aqu_default=1®ions%5B%5D=all®_default=1&habitats%5B%5D=all&threats%5B%5D=all&redlistAssessyear%5B%5D=all&growths%5B%5D=all. Retrieved 2008-09-06. [dead link]