The Angolan python (Python anchietae) is slowly becoming more common in the pet trade.
You may be wondering how different they are from the commonly kept ball python (Python regius). Here are some differences between these closely related species.
One of the biggest differences is in the scales of these two species. Ball pythons are like most pythons in that they have smooth scales.
The scales have a smooth feel no matter if you are touching belly or back scales.
Angolan pythons have a beaded appearance to the scales. This gives them a bumpy appearance and feel. This is much more similar to the scales of many lizards.
These beaded scales help catch condensation and keep the Angolan python hydrated in its arid habitat. The belly scales are the only smooth scales on an Angolan python.
2. Head and Eyes
While both pythons have similar head shapes, there are a few differences. Angolan pythons have larger and more prominent eyes compared to a typical ball python. Both species also have heat-sensitive pits located on the upper lip. Ball pythons have four on each side of the head, while Angolan pythons have five on each side.
3. Clutch Size
Both pythons lay a clutch of eggs.
Ball pythons are known to care for their eggs, with the female curling around the clutch to incubate it for over two months. It is unknown whether Angolan pythons have the same behavior.
What is known is the typical number of eggs in a clutch. A ball python will lay between 1-11 healthy eggs at a time. An Angolan python only lays 4-5 eggs in a single clutch.
While both pythons are native to Africa, they live in very different parts of the continent. Ball pythons are found just north of the equator.
They can be found west of the Nile in Sudan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, the Ivory Coast, and parts of Central Africa. Angolan pythons are found much further south. They can be found in southwestern Angola and Northwestern Namibia.
These two pythons have very different natural habitats. Ball pythons live in grasslands and forests. They can frequently be found in trees as juveniles and males are considered semi-arboreal.
Ball pythons will also rest in abandoned animal burrows or termite mounds during the hot daylight hours. This is not the case in Angolan pythons.
They prefer scrubland or rocky habitats that are more arid. They spend their days under rocks or ledges to hide from the heat and dry air of their preferred habitats.
Ball pythons are very common snakes. They have a very wide range in the wild and are not currently considered to be at risk of extinction in the wild.
Ball pythons are also incredibly common in captivity. They are frequently recommended to beginners. You can find many captive bred animals for sale.
They have also been selectively bred in a huge range of colors and patterns.
Angolan pythons have a narrow range in the wild. They are very rare in the wild, though they are not currently considered to be at risk of extinction.
They are very rare in captivity, with few breeders or importers. Even many zoos do not have these snakes.
Ball pythons in the wild eat rodents for the most part. Large adult females feed on ground-dwelling rodents and any other animal they can catch.
Males and juveniles tend to stick to the trees to hunt and eat more birds as a result.
Angolan pythons eat rodents and birds that come by their preferred resting areas.
8. Active Hours
Ball pythons are crepuscular animals. This means that they are most active at dawn and dusk. Many owners not that ball pythons tend to come out to explore not long after the lights go out.
Angolan pythons are more active during the day with reports that they are diurnal snakes.
9. Defensive Behavior
Behavior is one of the biggest differences between these two snakes. Ball pythons are named for their defensive behavior of balling up to protect their head.
This is their preferred defense, with rare bites or hissing when they feel threatened. Angolan pythons will typically hiss or eliminate to drive off predators. They will also bite.
Most snake owners will tell you how certain species will have certain common traits in their personalities. Ball pythons are shy and easily stressed.
They are sensitive to changes and go on frequent feeding strikes when upset. They take some time to relax with a new owner, but will settle out to a curious personality over time.
Angolan pythons are notably bolder animals. They do take time to get used to humans, but most animals will show less fear than a ball python.
They tend to be less cautious and more interested in their surroundings. Any changes in the enclosure will have an Angolan python exploring very quickly. Angolan pythons that have gotten used ot humans rarely bite or hiss.
While these related snakes do share many similarities, they are distinct species. If you have experience with ball pythons, you may see many similarities in Angolan pythons.
However, they do still have their own specific traits that make them unique. If you have any questions, please leave them below. If you have experience with both species, please leave your thoughts in a comment below.