Woma python   Aspidites ramsayi
(Macleay, 1882)
 The Nyangumarta aboriginals in the Pilbara call this snake jilajaku.

The Woma python is a medium sized python commonly found in desert areas where they are aptly suited.

They have a very large distribution and throughout the Woma's extensive range there are several recognize morphs.

In the Pilbara district of Western Australia the Woma python is a genetically smaller morph from those found from other areas but possibly may be no smaller than the womas found from the Tanami desert area in the Northern Territory.


With the Pilbara specimens I have found that the average weight of an adult woma to be about 550 grams and have an average total length of 1100mm.


This size difference is probably a direct consequence of their diet e.g. lack of medium sizePersonNamed mammals.
Observing the stomach contents of road kill woma's have shown that one favourite food of prey is the Spiny Tailed monitor Varanus acanthurus.

Way further south the Woma's are huge in comparison and many specimens have weighed in at 5 kgs. These large south western Woma's often take advantage of, and inhabit rabbit warrens and regularly prey upon them.

While living in the Pilbara I have yet to see a Woma big enough to consume a rabbit and further more have never seen rabbits in the wild here.

Dr David Pearson, a scientist from the Department of Environment and Conservation, has been doing morphology work on the south western population at Shark Bay for some time now and hopefully he will give us an insight to any conclusion or results he has come to for us to post here in the near future.

There has been in the past great concern in regards to the status of the population of Woma's that occur in the south eastern areas of Western Australia. These Woma's are apparently very rare and were previously thought to have nearly been wiped out due to introduced feral animals and extensive land clearing.

I have visited this area and although the land clearing has had an impact on their populations, I personally believe that it is more of a case that not enough people have spent enough time looking for them and in some parts of the wheat-belt district the habitat looked still likely to support them.
 I have heard of at least three specimens that have been caught only recently and I am confident that it is only a matter of time before they become established in collections.

It is my belief that these Woma's are no different genetically than the Woma's found from South Australia and are very similar in overall size to the populations that are found on our South Western coast.

The S.A populations do however differ in that they normally have a sub-ocular scale where as the South Western coastal populations lack this scale but have in the specimens that I have observed, the same mid-body scale row count of 59.  
All of the Woma's found in these areas tend to be genetically larger animals compared to the woma's found in the Pilbara area of the North West.

I will be trying to establish if there is any scalation difference between these two populations in the near future. What I have found though, is that in lower parts of the Pilbara e.g. Port Hedland, the Woma's normally has a single loreal scale, as opposed to occasionally one but normally two or more.

Typically these specimens have a mid row scale count of 49.




In south western parts of Queensland there is a population of woma's that looks different again.

These Woma's are often referred to as the Colaris woma's due to their dark coloured rings around their eyes that is often retained as an adult.

Unfortunately at the present time this morph is poorly represented in captivity and besides me and three other known reptile keepers who have a few, I am not aware of any others legally held.

Habitat

Woma pythons are suitably adapted to survive in some of the driest desert area on our continent. They inhabit sandy soiled areas that are generally covered in spinifex or poverty bush Acacia translucens.

Woma's are a burrowing species and most burrows are found beneath vegetation as the roots tend to strengthen the burrow from collapse in sandy soil.

Often the burrows have more than one chamber and there is often a very narrow chamber behind the main entrance. This probably helps in some way with the incubation temperatures of eggs although we do not yet understand how.

Breeding
Woma's are very easy to breed in captivity. In the Pilbara area of Western Australia, copulation takes place around April up until July.

There is strong belief that the male needs to go through a natural cooling period to produce viable sperm. We have observed pre winter copulations in the wild and believe that the female stores the spermatozoids during winter dormancy.

Either way I have never successfully bred this species without winter cooling.


Eggs
Average egg sizes and numbers vary between the different area morphs with the South Australian populations have the largest clutches and based on size, this may also be true of the South Western Australian populations as well. The North Western Woma has an average clutch size of 8.92 and the average egg weight is about 45grams.

Egg incubation times vary from about 55 to 65 days. The average size hatchling length is 440mm and the average hatchling weight is 35 grams.

So far from weigh data I have collected over 25 clutches, the hatchling weight has a range of 9 to 59 grams.


The miniature placeWest Pilbara coastal form has smaller hatchlings and I have had one clutch where the hatchlings were only 320mm in total length from which the specimen weighing only 9 grams came from.  
Comments
Woma's generally make excellent pets and have proved to be very hardy captives.

In Western Australia however, woma's are still relatively uncommon in captivity. Woma's are very easy to breed so hopefully in the next few years as more breeders get hold of them they will be bred in sufficient numbers to make them commonly available.
Although not very well known about, there have in the last two years been two confirmed cases of albinism in Australia and both allegedly involved specimens from the Pilbara district of W.A.

All native reptiles here in W.A remain protected under the W.A Wildlife Conservation Act (1950)

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