Carpet python identifications and sexing baby green tree pythons...


Dear VPI

I wonder if you guys know exactly how to identify the individual taxa in the Morelia spilota complex [carpet pythons and relatives]. Is it 100% (well almost 100%) possible? Are there distinguishing scale counts?

If it's done by scale counting, do you have a table for that? Which scales are counted? How do I do that?

And btw, I was just thinking about something else. Do you think that a GTP should not be popped/probed under 1 year of age?

Are you guys biologists? Can you for instance DNA check your animals for genetically inheritable traits?

Best regards, Patrik

Dear Patrik,

Some of the most comprehensive descriptions of the carpet pythons that you're going to find are our accounts in Pythons of the World, Vol 1, Australia and also in the article that we wrote for Reptiles Magazine that was published in May or June of 1999.

There aren't known scale counts that distinguish most of the subspecies. It's mostly a matter of color and pattern. A few of the subspecies have unique characters of scalation, but most of the scale counts overlap for most of the subspecies of carpets.

Regarding your question about green tree pythons--we have hatched many clutches of GTPs and we have sexed every one or our babies and also the babies of other keepers by popping them the first week of their life. If done properly, it doesn't hurt them.

As for if we are biologists--Tracy and I both have graduate degrees in biology, we have worked as biologists, and we both have worked with snakes for most of our adult lives.

We are not karyologists or geneticists, but I think I am correct to say that it's possible to look at particular genetic markers in a snake to see if it carries some particular trait. It's possible BUT it would be very expensive and for that reason I don't believe that anyone has ever done the necessary research.  We check our snakes for inheritable traits the old-fashioned way-by breeding them!   DGB