Natusch, D. & J. Lyons. 2012. Ecological attributes and trade of the white-lipped pythons (Genus Leiopython) in Indonesian New Guinea. Australian Journal of Zoology.
White-lipped pythons (WLPs) (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 WLPs provides the first information on trade and ecological attributes of the two most commonly traded species, L. albertisii and L. hoserae. Both exhibit broadly similar ecological attributes, however L. hoserae have longer and wider heads compared to L. albertisii. WLPs 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. The majority of trade was in L. albertisii and although traders differentiated between the two species based upon 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 mis-declaration of wild-caught individuals for export, may account for many more snakes than are recorded.
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