Standard metabolic rate and preferred body temperatures in some Australian pythons

Gavin Shane Bedford, K.A. Christian

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Pythons have standard metabolic rates and preferred body temperatures that are lower than those of most other reptiles. This study investigated metabolic rates and preferred body temperatures of seven taxa of Australian pythons. We found that Australian pythons have particularly low metabolic rates when compared with other bold snakes, and that the metabolic rates of the pythons did not change either seasonally or on a daily cycle. Preferred body temperatures do vary seasonally in some species but not in others. Across all species and seasons, the preferred body temperature range was only 4.9°C. The thermal sensitivity (Q10) of oxygen consumption by pythons conformed to the established range of between 2 and 3. Allometric equations for the pooled python data at each of the experimental temperatures gave an equation exponent of 0.72-0.76, which is similar to previously reported values. By having low preferred body temperatures and low metabolic rates, pythons appear to be able to conserve energy while still maintaining a vigilant 'sit and wait' predatory existence. These physiological attributes would allow pythons to maximise the time they can spend 'sitting and waiting' in the pursuit of prey.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)317-328
    Number of pages12
    JournalAustralian Journal of Zoology
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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