Simalia kinghorni Australian Scrub Python
This species was split from Morelia amethystine by Harvey et al. in 2000, and later moved to genus Simalia.
Cape Tribulation, Queensland, AustraliaFebruary 14, 2003
Australian Scrub Python (Simalia kinghorni)
Our friend Julia Cooper of Wild About Australia had spent time volunteering at the Bat House on Cape Tribulation, and encouraged us to stop by when we were in that area. The Bat House is the public side of a flying fox (large fruit bat) conservation effort, with educational exhibits and some available bat-oriented gifts. In it, there's usually at least one calm flying fox hanging upside down from something, and you can generally get it to hang upside down from your finger if you're so inclined.

Julia told us to ask whether they had any pythons in the trash can. It seems that the enclosures housing rehabilitating flying foxes are just too tempting for the local python population, and it's not uncommon for a python to find a way into the enclosures or the Bat House building itself. When the staff and volunteers find an unwanted python guest, they maneuver it into a trash can for the day. At the end of the day when they're closing up shop, they drive the python-laden trash can a good distance into the surrounding rainforest and release it there.

So I asked about pythons in trash cans, and sure enough they had one that day. This beauty was estimated to be perhaps eight feet long by its captor (it was a large trash can). Perhaps it doesn't really count as a "wild herp" since it was currently being maintained in a trash can, but only for part of one day. Fortunately I had seen another Australian Scrub Python in the wild earlier in the day, so I didn't have to struggle with my conscience deciding whether to include this species on my website.

Daintree River, Queensland, AustraliaFebruary 14, 2003
Australian Scrub Python (Simalia kinghorni)
The Daintree River is a great place to see two of Australia's largest reptiles — saltwater crocodiles and Amethystine pythons — in the winter when they spend much of their time basking in the sun. We came in the summer instead, and so were lucky to find this python stretched out in a mostly-dead tree. Naturalist and river guide Chris Dahlberg gets the credit for knowing where to look for this serpent, and indeed for actually spotting it. (We never did see any saltwater crocs, though we did hear a tiny one splash into the river to evade a marauding Great Egret.)

Australian Scrub Pythons are one of the largest snake species in the world, though really gigantic ones more than twenty feet long are rarely encountered these days. This one was perhaps ten feet long.

Here is a complete list of the reptiles and frogs I saw on this trip to Australia.

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