The White Lipped Python is a beautiful, and uniquely iridescent species of snake. They are a truly unique type of python for a number of different reasons.
First, most of the species are native to the island of Papua New Guinea.
Additionally, there are even several different variations of species of the White Lipped Python on the large Pacific island itself. We’ll cover more of that later.
These specimens were discovered over a century ago, and are mostly forest dwelling snakes. Their great beauty attracts some enthusiasts to keep them as pets. That said, they are not a common pet snake.
You’ll learn more as to why they are not very common further down below.
Speaking of beauty, you’ll be able to observe several pictures of this species of python in this write-up. Additionally, this post goes into detail on just about everything you need to know about the White Lipped Python.
We’ll cover taxonomy, it’s habitat, eating habits, the size and longevity of these snakes, and much more.
Rest assured that you’ll know just about as much as you can about White Lipped Pythons after reading this post. In any case, we hope that you comment with any questions, missing info, or general thoughts about this species of snake.
White Lipped Python Scientific Facts
These pythons belong to the genus Leiopython, which comprises of seven different species that are generally classified as “White Lipped Pythons”. Below, we will cover all 6 of the species in the Leiopython genus.
Plus, we will cover their natural habitat, diet and eating habits, native location and reproduction behaviors. This information is the foundation of everything you need to know about the White Lipped Python.
Whether you’re considering a White Lipped Python as a pet, or simply want to learn more about the various species, this is the right place for you to be researching.
Lastly, you’ll learn some really cool facts about this snake! It’s an incredible species, and this info is great to know even if you’re reading up on White Lipped Pythons for leisure.
Species and Taxonomy
Currently, there are six known species of White Lipped Pythons. They are all native to a small group of islands.
That’s pretty impressive.
Imagine, six different species of the same genus, simply because they are in different climates. Darwin sure would be proud!
Bothrochilus albertisii, D’Albertis Python
The Bothrochilus albertisii was the first species of White Lipped Python ever discovered. The snake was discovered in 1878.
The species was discovered on what is now Papua new Guinea. The snake is commonly referred to as the D’Albertis Python or the Northern White Lipped Python. The former name is meant to honor the late and great explorer named Luigi D’Albertis.
Luigi was one of the first explorers to chart vast parts of Papua New Guinea. Additionally, Luigi was credited with collecting several of the snakes and bringing them back to Europe for scientists to study.
Consequently, Luigi’s discoveries were a big reason as to why he was honored with the scientific name of the humble serpent.
The discovery was made by a pair of naturalists and scientists from two different countries. The first, Wilhelm Peters, was from Germany and second, Giacomo Doria, from Italy.
The Northern White Lipped Python is commonly found in Papua New Guinea. Moreover, these snakes are can also be found on several smaller surrounding islands that make up the Raja Ampat Islands.
Bothrochilus biakensis, Biak Whitelip Python
This species, along with all of the below species, was discovered by Wulf D. Schleip. Schleip is an independent researcher and a proclaimed herpetologist.
The Biak Whitelip Python was first discovered in 2008, and is native to the island of Biak. Biak is technically located in Indonesia. Hence, the name of this species is derived from it’s location on the island.
Bothrochilus fredparkeri, Karimui Basin Whitelip Python
The Bothrochilus Fredparkeri species was also discovered by Schleip, as mentioned above.
The Karimui Basin Whitelip Python is found on the island of Papua New Guinea.
Lastly, the scientific name of this species honors Fred Parker, a famous naturalist hailing from Australia.
Bothrochilus huonensis, Huon Peninsula Whitelip Python
Again, Schleip discovered this species. The biggest difference between all of these species is the location, the other differences are seemingly subtle.
The Huon Peninsula Whitelip is found in the eastern province of Morobe, Papua New Guinea. The snake’s name represents the location in which it is native.
Bothrochilus meridionalis, Southern Whitelip Python
Schleip also discovered the Southern Whitelip Python. As the name implies, this species is native to the southern most part of Papua New Guinea.
Bothrochilus montanus, Wau Whitelip Python
Lastly, Schleip also discovered the Wau Whitelip Python.
Wau is the name of a small town in Papua New Guinea. Consequently, the snake was named after this town.
The town of Wau is located near a large park named the McAdam National Park.
First, to best understand the preferred habitat of these pythons, you must understand what the climate is like in Papua New Guinea.
Papua New Guinea is an island located in the South Pacific. It’s East of Africa, South of Asia, and North of Australia. Additionally, it is part of a larger group of islands in the South Pacific. Some of those other islands include Indonesia and the Solomon Islands.
Now, Papua New Guinea is mostly forest and mountains. Plus, the terrain has several volcanos spread throughout the land. Here’s an idea of what a typical setting in which a White-Lipped Python may be located:
The density of the trees and brush along with a fierce rainfall cycle make Papua New Guinea rather humid. On average, it rains 79-197 inches per year. The rainfall, coupled with an average year-round temperature of 79-82 degrees Fahrenheit, makes for quite the humid climate.
Thus, Papua New Guinea is typically around 70%-90% humid all the time. Because of this, it’s safe to assume that all species of White Lip Python prefer humidity in that range.
As for general habitat, these pythons are mostly terrestrial, meaning they typically dwell on the ground or forest floor. Occasionally, the snakes are known to climb trees. This likely happens as an attempt to catch prey.
White Lipped Pythons prefer damp surroundings and are commonly found near a water source or in a swampy area.
Consequently, these pythons can frequently be found in leaves, under dead logs, or near a river, stream, swamp. They will likely not be seen out and about unless they are on the hunt for food or basking in the sun.
Diet and Eating Habits
White Lip Pythons are a nonvenomous, constricting tropical snake. Although nonvenomous, these snakes are often confused with venomous snakes due to their triangle shaped heads.
Since they have no venom, these snakes constrict their kill to death before eating them whole.
Typically, White Lips feed on small to medium size woodland mammals, frogs, amphibians, and sometimes birds. Juveniles, or younger snakes, will often feed on smaller frogs, lizards, or baby mammals.
Reproduction cycles are fairly consistent with this species of snake. They have a pretty set in stone mating period, which starts in December and concludes in March.
Males and females mate during this time, and both sexes usually only start mating after they’ve reached sexual maturity at around 4-5 years old.
Females have a gestation period of around 2.5-3.5 months. For those of you who don’t know, gestation periods begin after mating and essentially means the snake is pregnant.
After gestation, females will typically lay at least 5 eggs but usually no more than 20. Most of the time, females will lay around 10-12 eggs on average. The eggs are somewhat soft when first laid, and soon the egg shell solidifies. Once the eggs are laid in the females nest, they take approximately two months to hatch.
During this time, the female White Lipped Python will nest on top of her eggs to protect them. She will rarely if ever leave the eggs exposed during this time to protect her babies from predators.
When they are born, juvenile White Lipped Pythons are 15 inches (38cm) long.
Size, Color, and Attributes
Both male and female White Tipped Pythons grow fairly large. On average, these pythons will grow between 6-9 feet long. Far larger than their distant cousin, the Ball Python.
Typically, and this holds true with many species of snakes, the females grow to be larger than males.
One of the notable differences between the 6 different species listed above is the size.
The Northern White Lipped Python is the smaller of the species, and averages a length of around 7 ft long (214 cm). Contrarily, the Southern White-Lipped Python grows to be significantly larger, coming in at an average of 9.8 feet long (300 cm).
As for color and looks, the White-tipped Python is truly unique. It has a mostly dark brown/blackish tone throughout the length of it’s body. However, it’s belly slowly fades into a bone-white color.
One of the most stand out physical attributes of this species is it’s glow. It has an iridescent coat, which changes color as light reflects of of it’s scales. Their scales put off a purple-blue color when reflecting back light.
Have you ever seen polluted water that has a greenish-purple look to it?
That’s kind of what a White-tipped Python looks like. If you still can’t quite picture it, there are plenty of photos below that will help you get a better visual.
Lastly, the name of this python comes from it’s looks, too. You’ll notice that the mouth of this species is surrounded by notably white scales. Hence, they are named the White-Lipped Python.
White Lipped Python Pictures
You can really see the emphasis on the white lips in the picture above. Plus, you can see how it’s dark brown back fades into a cream white belly. This fella is probably enjoying the warmth from his handlers hands.
Do you remember when we mentioned that White Lipped Pythons have an iridescent glow when held in the sun?
Well, you can truly see their radiance in the above photo. See how it almost has that “polluted water” look to her? She’s a beautiful snake, and when held in the sun, becomes truly stunning.
Look at the size of her head! She’s got a much darker tone than the other pythons pictured in the gallery.
This is a younger White-lipped Python, and you can see how much shorter and smaller he looks compared to some of the others. Don’t worry, though, this guy will grow to be nearly twice as thick and long as he is now.
Look at this gal wrapped around her owners arm. She’s likely trying to enjoy the human warmth. These pythons are cold blooded, after all.
Just like every other snake, White-Lipped Pythons need to extract heat from other places.
What could be better than a warm human arm?
Just look at the radiance of the above WL Python.
This specimen has a vibrant brown color, and is much more exotic looking compared to some of the others pictured on this list.
One of my favorite parts about this species is the black head, dark eyes, and contrasting white lips.
This is just a baby White Lipped Python, probably less than 6 months old.
Be careful, though. Usually when Pythons are coiled up like this it means they feel threatened and could strike. Nonetheless, a bite from one of these little guys wouldn’t hurt hardly at all.
So, there’s not much to worry about. Though, it’s good to be able to pick up the warning signs from your pet, especially when it’s 9 feet long and doesn’t want to be picked up.
A bite from a full grown White Lipped Python would hurt much more than getting bit by this little guy.
Do White Lipped Pythons Make Good Pets?
The attractiveness and unique visual makeup of the White Lipped Python make it seem like a desirable pet to have. Many new, aspiring, or experienced snake owners enjoy the look and exotic-ness of their pet snakes.
The White Lipped Python checks all the boxes. Here are some reasons why this species is a some-what sought after pet snake:
- The look. There aren’t many other snakes out there with the iridescence and sheer beauty of the White Lipped Python.
- The size. While these pythons are larger than Ball Pythons, they are much smaller than say, a Reticulated Python. If you’re wanting a bigger snake but not one that could size you up for dinner, this is a desirable option
- The Rarity. You likely won’t be able to go to a local pet store and buy a White Lipped Python. Heck, chances are your local breeder won’t have them either. The reason for this is because they are not a popular species of snake for most owners. So, many who aspire to do so want to have a unique pet — not just another Corn Snake or Ball Python.
Now, all of these reasons might make you think, “This sounds like a great pet! Why don’t more people have them?” We’ll explain why below. While they are good pets for more experienced owners and enthusiasts, we’d recommend avoiding one of these if this is your first or second pet snake.
Not Your Average Beginner Pet Snake
First, White Lipped Pythons get big. For reference, one of the most common pet snakes, which also happens to be a Python, is a Ball Python. Ball Pythons grow to be about 3.5-4.5 ft (106-137 cm) long on average.
That’s nearly half the size of a White Lipped Python. And if you’ve ever seen a full grown Ball Python — they’re pretty big snakes!
This is one of the biggest deterrents for new owners. They simply don’t want a 7 to 9.8 ft (214 – 300 cm) long python in their home. Imagine a snake that’s 2-3 feet taller than you.
That’s a lot of snake.
Additionally, White Lipped Pythons are known to be aggressive, especially if they were not born and raised in captivity. That said, even if they are raised in captivity, they are often descried as “nippy”.
A snake nipping at you when they are a juvenile is fine. But, when a full grown White Lipped Python is nipping at you, it’s a different story. That could be a potentially very painful bite.
Not to mention, it’d be hard to get your friends/family to warm up to you owning a snake that’s known to be more aggressive than alternative pet snakes.
If you want a python, we’d recommend going with a Ball Python. Now, there’s nothing wrong with owning a White Lipped Python, we just wanted to make sure you know what you’re getting into for the long run.
Lastly, White Lipped Ball Pythons are known to live for up to 30 years. That’s not too different from the longevity of other species, particularly pythons. In any case, owning one of these is a long term commitment so be ready to have one of them for the long run.
White Lipped Python Care Sheet
Now, if you do choose to take on one of these beautiful snakes as a pet, you’ll need to take proper measures to ensure the best White Lipped Python care.
The care of these snakes is very similar to that of a Ball Python, barring a few key differences.
The biggest difference is size. White Lipped Pythons grow to be about twice the size of a Ball Python, hence you’ll need a larger cage for one of these fellas.
Before we get into the cage setup, let’s set the ground work for acquiring your new slithery friend.
What is the Price of a White Lipped Python?
Be prepared to pay quite the premium for one of these snakes. Since they aren’t a very popular species to own, White Lipped Pythons are pretty hard to find.
Plus, when you do find out where they are available, they usually go for way more than one would like to pay.
But hey, if you really want one, you’ll likely be able to find one somewhere.
Usually, the price of a White Lipped Python will range between $300-$400 dollars. Similar to the price of a Green Tree Python.
Where Should You Buy One?
Buying one of these snakes from a reputable dealer is extremely important. As mentioned before, these snakes tend to be more aggressive.
Thus, you should be sure of few things before you buy one online or from a random dealer.
Here are a few key points to consider when buying one:
- Buy from a reputable snake breeder. While it’s OK to buy snakes online, this species is best bought from someone you can trust. You never really know where you’re getting these snakes when you buy them online. If you do choose do buy one online, be sure to call the company and question them about where they got their supply of White Lipped Ball Pythons.
- Ask the breeder where the snakes came from. Was the juvenile snake you are considering buying born in captivity? Did it’s parents come from the wild, or where the parents born in captivity, too? These are questions you’ll need to ask, because captive born and bred snakes tend to be a lot less aggressive than wild ones. Another reason why you need to make sure you’re getting your snake from a reputable breeder.
- Buy a juvenile snake. It’s best to buy a White-lipped Python as young as possible. First, that will help ensure they were born in captivity and not in the wild. Second, owning a snake and handling it while it’s young will help build trust. That way, he or she will be more familiar with you and you handling it.
Enclosure Setup and Size
When it comes to proper White Lipped Python Care, enclosure size is key for a happy snake.
Keep in mind: while they are only 15 inches when babies, these snakes will grow to be 7-9.8 feet long. That’s a pretty darn big snake, which means you’ll need a pretty darn big enclosure.
It’s okay to start them off in a small tank, a shoe box, or a DIY plastic enclosure. You can learn more about snake tanks here, and you can get an idea of the different options out there.
In any case, plan on having at least a 40 gallon snake terrarium for a full grown White Lipped Python.
Temperature, Humidity, and Lighting
Remember, White Lipped Pythons live in an incredibly humid environment in the wild that doesn’t get cooler than around 79 degrees Fahrenheit year round.
That means that theses pythons prefer a naturally warm habitat.
Also, they are terrestrial and prefer swamp like conditions in the wild. So, it’s not necessary to have any type of light cycle with the White Lipped Python. A heating pad should do just fine.
As for heat, White Lipped Pythons (like many other pythons) enjoy both a basking and ambient heat in their enclosure. This basically means you’ll need to set up it’s terrarium to have a “hot” and a “cool” side.
So, exactly what temperature should the ambient and basking sections be?
For the basking side, you’ll need to have it be in between 88-90 degrees Fahrenheit. On the other hand, the ambient side should be between 77-83 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lastly, humidity is key for making sure your Whitelipped Python is happy and healthy.
Think about where the are from: in a jungle on an island in the South Pacific. As mentioned before, that is an extremely humid environment. That said, White-Lipped Pythons prefer a humidity of at least 60%.
A large water bowl should do the trick to keeping your snakes enclosure humid. With that in mind, you should get a humidity gauge as well as a temperature gauge for the terrarium; especially if you’re in a rather dry area.
If the water bowl doesn’t help with the humidity, you can always by a small reptile fogger.
Temperament and Behavior
Lastly, these snakes are known to be somewhat aggressive compared to other common pet snakes. White-lipped pythons are definitely not a beginner pet snake.
It’s best to not handle these snakes 24 hours before or after feeding. They can be “nippy”, and tend to strike when hungry or when they feel defensive.
Now, a Ball Python bite may not hurt too bad because they don’t grow too large. On the other hand a bite from a White Lipped Python would be quite painful because they are stronger and larger than the Ball Python.
In any case, you need to know that this species tends to be aggressive, which simply emphasizes the need to do proper research before you buy. Captive bred White Lipped Pythons are much more likely to be friendly, and you’re best bet is to buy a Juvenile so it gets used to being handled at a young age.