In their analysis of the distribution of members of the P. curtus group, Zug et al. (2011) could only verify the presence of this species at Mt. Kabor and Kaba Wetan, although these authors also accept the validity of records from Sibolga (Shine et al. 1998), Padang, Bandar Lampung (Barker and Barker 1994) and Bengkulu (Keogh et al. 2001).
The species was previously thought to occur in Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and Borneo, but is nowadays considered to be endemic to Sumatra, where it is restricted to the west side of the Barisan mountain range.
Distribution: Indonesia (Sumatra, Bangka), Thailand (incl. Phuket), W Malaysia, Singapore; Vietnam
Type locality: Sumatra, Indonesia
Habitat and Ecology
Life History and Behavior
Lifespan, longevity, and ageing
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
Python curtus is a species of Pythonid, a non-venomous snake found in Southeast Asia. Three subspecies are recognized, including the nominate subspecies described here, although some authors describe these as species.
Adults grow to 1.5-1.8 m (5–6 feet) in length and are heavily built. The tail is extremely short relative to the overall length. The color pattern consists of a beige, tan or grayish-brown ground color overlaid with blotches that are brick to blood-red in color.
The three species of short-tailed pythons can be distinguished by small differences in head scalation. In Blood Pythons (P. brongersmai) the labial scales fill in the entire gap between the bottom of the eye and the lip - in Borneo Short-Tailed Pythons (P. curtis) and Sumatran Short-Tailed Pythons (P. breitensteini), there are narrow sub-ocular scales between the bottom of the eye and the top of the labial scales. P. curtis and P. breitensteini can be distinguished from each other by the frontal and parietal scales on the tops of their heads. In P. curtis, the parietal scales do not join each other, or meet at an extremely sharp angle. In both P. brongersmai and P. breitensteini, the parietal scales join together.
They feed on a variety of mammals and birds.
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Short python, Blood python, Short-tailed python, Black blood python, Sumatran short-tailed python, Sumatran blood python.
Found in Southeast Asia in southern Thailand, Malaysia (Peninsular and Sarawak) (including Pinang) and Indonesia (Sumatra, Riau Archipelago, Lingga Islands, Bangka Islands, Mentawai Islands and Kalimantan). According to Stimson (1969), the type locality is Sumatra.
Oviparous, females seldom lay more than a dozen large eggs (however, much larger clutches have been reported). The female remains coiled around the eggs during the incubation period, and may shiver to produce heat. However, this action requires a lot of energy and the female will only do so if surrounding temperatures drop below 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The hatchlings emerge after 2.5 to 3 months and are about 30 cm (12 inches) in length.
The species is kept as an exotic pet. They are often regarded as unpredictable and aggressive, but captive bred individuals tend to be more docile than wild-caught specimens.
The blood python has been extensively harvested for leather, an estimated 100 000 individuals are taken for this purpose each year. The commercial trade regards this as a single species. Authors who elevate these island populations to species note that skins are readily distinguished.
The subspecies P. c. brongersmai was elevated to a full species by Pauwels et al. (2000)., while P. c. breitensteini was given species status by Keogh, Barker and Shine (2001). The divergence of this monophyletic group is presumed to be isolation of populations resulting from changes in sea levels. Phylogenetic analysis of the Malay population, P. curtus brongersmai, suggests a close affinity with the nominal subspecies, however, P. curtus breitensteini was determined to be as genetically distant from the original type as the species Python reticulatus.
An arrangement as subspecies is summarised as:
- Python curtus Schlegel, 1872
- Python curtus curtus, western and southern Sumatra. One of two taxa referred to as Short-tailed pythons.
- Python curtus breitensteini, Schlegel, 1872/Steindachner, 1880 Borneo short-tailed python or Brown blood python, Type locality: Borneo/Kalimantan.
- Python curtus brongersmai Stull, 1935. Referred to by the common name Red blood python, this taxon contains reddish colour morphs. The type locality was Singapore, Malay Peninsula.
The synonyms for this arrangement are:
- Python curtus - Schlegel, 1872
- Aspidoboa curtus - Sauvage, 1884
- Python curtus - Boulenger, 1890
- Python curtus - Boulenger, 1893
- Python curtus curtus - Stull, 1935
- Python curtus curtus - Stimson, 1969
- Python curtus - Stuebing, 1991
- "Python curtus". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 11 September 2007.
- Mehrtens JM. 1987. Living Snakes of the World in Color. New York: Sterling Publishers. 480 pp. ISBN 0-8069-6460-X.
- 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).
- Keogh, J. S.; Barker, D. Shine, R. (2001). "Heavily exploited but poorly known: systematics and biogeography of commercially harvested pythons (Python curtus group) in Southeast Asia (abstract)". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 73 (1): 113. doi:10.1111/j.1095-8312.2001.tb01350.x.
- Python brongersmai at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 15 September 2007.
- Python breitensteini at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database. Accessed 15 September 2007.