There is one piece of information that MUST to be explained before you read any further.
No matter what anyone ever tells you to the contrary, the only way you will ever know what locality reticulated python you own is to catch it yourself.
This is not to say the person you buy from is deliberately telling lies, nor does it mean that the information presented on these pages is incorrect......
So what's the deal? Well, for a start, let's look at the next two pictures:
The reticulated python is no chameleon, but it does have the ability to change it's appearance significantly. The two pictures above are exactly the same animal, just showing two different moods.
When "content" and "happy" (which usually means late at night, during digestion or during breeding season) the reticulated python is a much brighter animal. Theories as to how and why this is often revolve around blood flow. No matter the reason though, it is clear based on those pictures alone that identification based on colour alone is hard to get correct, especially from photographs shown online.
Did you know, the reticulated python is considered to be one of the most intelligent snake species in the world? Even still, they can not read, let alone understand politics.
While you may think this is a pointless observation, it is actually critical to the identification process......
The range of this snake is one of the largest used by any animal, it covers many thousands of miles - spanning oceans, islands and major land masses. What it doesn't do is observe international or even local borders. They are driven by habitat alone, meaning in it's life time a reticulated python may cross rivers, forests and borders or even swim to other islands making an animal from Bali appear on Java (for example).
We already established that the trade in reticulated python skins is enormous with many thousands of animals being brought to skinning stations each year. This again is a huge factor as those catching the snakes do not care where they were when it was caught, as long as they get paid.
Once at these stations, after being moved miles from there home ranges (some brought back on boats after being found during island fishing trips), if they are not suitable then they can simply be released in the local area for recollection when they are more mature.
Ok, so they change colour and they ignore boundaries. At this point you wouldnt be alone in thinking that the task ahead of you is almost impossible. Well, you probably wont be suprised to hear it gets worse.
When looking to buy a locality reticulated python, you have 2 main options - both with there own set of risks and problems:
Those keepers with more experience that want there own bloodlines or just want to avoid another layer of possible identification confusion buy directly from importers, or closer still to the wild source, exporters.
Short of actually flying out to Indonesia, this is the best option in terms of chance of getting what you want.But it still, isnt completely reliable.
You make your order and the exporter looks to arrange filling that order for you. They do this in several ways, depending on what you have ordered. Mainland localities and those from more heavily populated islands (such as Bali) are often saved from the skinning stations in that area. As mentioned earlier though, that does not mean they were collected in that region. Those small island based or remote mainland localities are collected for specifically. Which, again, may sound great but it has its problems. The collector may simply not want to go to the specific area and just collects a specimen from "somewhere close". Either way, once the animals are given to the exporter, they will ship them to you (or the importer) - because, as far as the exporter has been told, they have what you wanted.
Many newer keepers or those that want to be able to see the size of parent animals buy captive bred animals direct from breeders.
Bare in mind though, the further away from the wild you go in terms of generations, the more you are open to identification confusion.
A breeder of wild caught animals has simply chosen "Option 1" (above) and has made the decision that what he received is what he asked for, based either on the assumption that the exporter has shipped the correct locality or self imposed ignorance to the risks of locality specific specimens.
How then, do we identify reticulated python localities? The simple answer, in all honesty, is that we guess....
Don't get me wrong, it can be an educated guess, but a guess it will be.
We look at the animals colours and patterns (during both light and dark moods), at the head shape/scalation, at the length and build of the body of wild and captive bred specimens, at egg weights and shapes and we look at how the animal moves and reacts while in its enclosure and interacting with handlers. And when all that is done, we do the most important thing we can do, and that is compare it to others
The single best way to set your mind at ease is to compare your observations to a stereotype, a predefined notion of what each locality should look like. Which is where this site will hopefully come in usefull
Throughout this website you will find both text and pictures of many localities and morphs of reticulated pythons. I will continually try to keep on top of updates, allowing for a more "complete" stereotype to be formed of each different variety.
The descriptions are by no means meant to be taken as solid and unwaivering pieces of text, but as a guide to help you establish what you may have. Hopefully you will find them useful.