Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Ecological attributes and trade of white-lipped pythons (Genus Leiopython) in Indonesian New Guinea

Daniel J. D. Natusch A B and Jessica A. Lyons A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B Corresponding author. Email: d_natusch_14@hotmail.com

Australian Journal of Zoology 59(5) 339-343 https://doi.org/10.1071/ZO12017
Submitted: 10 February 2012  Accepted: 17 April 2012   Published: 16 May 2012

Abstract

White-lipped pythons (WLP) (Genus Leiopython) have been collected from the wild in Indonesian New Guinea and exported for the pet trade since at least 1977. Despite the long duration of trade and recent taxonomic work recognising six different species, virtually nothing is known of the trade dynamics or ecology of these species. Surveys of wildlife traders in Indonesian New Guinea and measurement of 122 WLP provides the first information on trade and ecological attributes of the two most commonly traded species, L. albertisii and L. hoserae. Both species exhibit broadly similar ecological attributes; however, L. hoserae has a longer and wider head than L. albertisii. WLP prey mainly on mammals, although smaller snakes were found to feed on lizards. Reproduction appears to be seasonal with oviposition and hatching occurring in the summer months between December and March. Most trade was in L. albertisii and although traders differentiated between the two species on the basis of colour, both were traded under the name L. albertisii. Examination of CITES export data revealed that in 2004 Indonesia exceeded the government-allocated harvest quota of wild individuals. Although this quota was apparently not exceeded in other years, the results of this study suggest that the unmonitored domestic pet trade and the potential for misdeclaration of wild-caught individuals for export may account for many more snakes than are recorded.

Additional keywords: albertisii, harvest quota, hoserae, pet trade, snake.


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