200 Years. 200 Stories. Story 75: “Long Live the Python ”

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photo of a ball python skull
The skull of the record holding ball python (Python regius) that lived at the Philadelphia Zoo.

Long Live the Python

The life expectancy of Python regius, or ball python, is about 25 years, but the Academy has a ball python specimen that nearly doubled that number during its years on Earth. The Philadelphia Zoo received this snake from an animal dealer in 1945, and it lived there for 48 years, setting the longevity record for a ball python in captivity. Upon the snake’s death in 1992, the Zoo donated it to the Academy. We preserved the snake’s skin and skeleton.

Ball pythons are the smallest of the African pythons, and they are easily bred in captivity. These black, brown, and gold-spotted creatures are common household pets because of their size (three to five feet) and because they are easily handled. They get their name from their ability to roll into tight balls when they are under stress.

Find out what other special snake is hiding in the Academy’s Herpetology Collection, and stay tuned for news on more Academy record breakers!

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