Python sebae, commonly known as the African rock python, is a large, nonvenomous snake of Sub-Saharan Africa. The African rock python is one of seven species in the genus Python. It has two subspecies: one found in Central and Western Africa, the other in Southern Africa.
Africa's largest snake, specimens may approach or exceed 6 m (20 ft). The southern subspecies is generally smaller than its northern relative. The animal has a pattern of colored blotches on its body. It has dual lungs and vestigial hind limbs, which show it is less advanced in evolution than other snakes.
The snake is found in a variety of habitats, from forests to near deserts, although usually near sources of water. The African rock python kills its prey by constriction and often eats animals up to the size of antelope, occasionally even crocodiles. The snake reproduces by egg-laying. Unlike most snakes, the female will protect her nest and sometimes even her hatchlings.
The snake is widely feared even though it only very rarely kills humans. Although the snake is not endangered, it does face threats from habitat reduction and hunting.
The snake varies considerably in body size between different areas. In general, it is smaller in highly populated regions, such as in southern Nigeria, only reaching its maximum length in areas such as Sierra Leone, where the human population density is lower. Males are typically smaller than females.
The African rock python is found throughout almost the whole of sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal east to Ethiopia and Somalia and south to Namibia and South Africa. Python sebae sebae ranges across central and western Africa, while Python sebae natalensis has a more eastern and southerly range, from southern Kenya to South Africa.
In 2009, the African rock python was found in the Florida Everglades. It is feared to be establishing itself as an invasive species alongside the already-established Burmese Python. In 2010, a 14 foot, 140 pound male was captured. Feral rock pythons were also noted in the 1990s in the Everglades.
The African rock python inhabits a wide range of habitats, including forest, savanna, grassland, semi-desert, and rocky areas. It is particularly associated with areas of permanent water and is found on the edges of swamps, lakes and rivers, The snake also readily adapts to disturbed habitats and so is often found around human habitation, especially cane fields.