Breeder MaleThe Moluccan python was formerly considered the Moluccan locale of the Scrub or Amethystine Python, Morelia amethistina.  In 2000 it was given full species status and named Morelia clastolepis

These pythons are intelligent and command respect, but are generally very well mannered pythons, especially if raised from hatchlings.  This species has been produced only a few times in captivity, so captive bred hatchlings are very difficult to come by.  As such, most Moluccan Pythons in captivity are wild collected animals that have been imported from Indonesia.  My breeders were acquired in the summer of 2002 as wild caught neonates.  They weighed 32 and 38 grams and were still displaying their rusty red hatchling color.  This would make them no more than a couple months old when they reached my collection.  Since they were so young, I had very little trouble acclimating them and they calmed down very easily.  One of the most important factors to keep in mind is that they have the feeding response and alertness of a reticulated python, with the long teeth and the agility of a green tree python.  That being said, care must still be exercised when reaching into their cages.  I gently coax mine out with a hook and then proceed to handle them freely without any worries.

Males typically top out at around 8-9 feet in length and females are slightly smaller.  A unique thing about the "Scrub" python complex is that males typically grow larger than females and the Moluccan is definitely no exception.  My adult female was around seven feet long and weighed about 2,800 grams when gravid in 2006.  My male is the same age and is probably closer to 8 feet long and 3,500 grams. In terms of girth, I personally believe that a fit, healthy Moluccan python should be about half as thick as a carpet python of the same length.

My breeder pair as hatchlings in 2002
Moluccans are generally very colorful pythons, with an almost metallic sheen to their scales.  Their heads are large and covered in large, plate-like scales.  In typical Morelia fashion, hatchlings Moluccan pythons go through a hormonal color change for the first 3-4 years of life.  Hatchlings are typically a rust red color, which quickly fades away to brown or orange, by 6 months of age.  From there on, they will undergo a color change that will take them from brown to yellow, and finally, they will get a dark melanin wash along their dorsum.  This dark wash scares some people off, but mature adults are still gorgeous pythons in person.  Another unique aspect that should be noted is that female Moluccans become incredibly dark (nearly black) when gravid.

There have been a handful of individuals imported that lack yellow pigment altogether, making them axanthic.  Other appearances include patternless and striped.

Breeder Male as a hatchling - August 2002 Breeder female at approximately one year of age. Breeder Male Breeder Male Breeder Male Breeder Female - June 2005 (Prior to Breeding)

Breeding Season 2006
Breeder Female - GravidI put my Moluccans together in February of 2006 and copulation began almost immediately.  This species has proven to be challenging to produce in captivity, but I figured I should at least put them together and see if they wanted to breed.  I've witnessed a couple of copulations since then, but it's early and I've not palpated the female.  I will probably just leave these two together for the rest of the season and see if a hands off approach helps.  As young as they are (4 years old), I really don't expect anything to happen this year, but I figured why not?  The way I see it, breeding these snakes is like playing the lottery...the odds aren't good, but you can't win if you don't play. :-) 

Looking at them is good enough for me, but if I can get them to produce, I'll be even happier.

10 infertile and 6 fertile eggs!  I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Four hatchlings!  The two that didn't make it were an apparently healthy one who didn't get out of the egg soon enough and a severely kinked one that was dead in the egg.  Below are some photos of the first one to hatch.



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