Morelia amethistina 

Scope: Global
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Reptilia Squamata Pythonidae

Scientific Name: Morelia amethistina (Schneider, 1801)
Common Name(s):
English Amethystine Python, Amethyst Python, Scrub Python
Boa amethistina Schneider, 1801
Hypaspistes dipsadides Ogilby, 1891
Liasis amethystinus (Schneider, 1801)
Liasis clarki Barbour, 1914
Liasis duceboracensis Günther, 1879
Python amethystinus (Schneider, 1801)
Simalia amethestina (Schneider, 1801)
Taxonomic Notes: Harvey et al. (2000) notes that this species is part of a complex. These authors identified three, widely-accepted, species within the Indonesian range of the Morelia amethistina complex:, Morelia tracyae (northwestern Halmahera), Morelia nauta (Tanimbar Islands) and Morelia clastolepis (Ambon, Seram and most likely from the islands Haruku and Saparua). Taxonomic uncertainty in Morelia amethistina remains with regard to northern and southern populations in New Guinea and those from the Aru Islands (M. Auliya, pers. comm. 2010). Australian populations have been referred to the resurrected Morelia kinghorni (Harvey et al. 2000), however, Cogger (2014) notes that this authors did not provide a diagnosis. While accepting that Australian records are likely to be specifically distinct from M. amethistina, Cogger (2014) elects to retain kinghorni as a junior synonym until it has been fully diagnosed and the appropriate status of Liasis clarki resolved. This taxon was described from Murray Island and assigned "arbitrarily" (Cogger 2014) to M. amethistina by Harvey et al. 2000; should it instead be referable to M. kinghorni the name Morelia clarki (Barbour, 1914) would have priority.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2013-04-16
Assessor(s): Tallowin, O., Allison, A., Parker, F. & O'Shea, M.
Reviewer(s): Auliya, M.
Contributor(s): Harris, J. & Auliya, M.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bowles, P., De Silva, R., Milligan, H.T., Wearn, O.R., Wren, S., Zamin, T., Sears, J., Wilson, P., Lewis, S., Lintott, P., Powney, G.
Morelia amethistina has been assessed as Least Concern. It has a wide distribution in New Guinea and its offshore islands and throughout the Bismarck Archipelago, and as presently understood also in northeastern Australia. It is abundant, inhabits a wide variety of habitats including modified areas and is not affected by any major threats.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

This species occurs throughout the New Guinea mainland at elevations below 1,600 m asl. In Indonesian New Guinea it has been recorded on the offshore islands of Yapen, Biak, Salawati, Misool, Waigeo and the Moluccan islands of Kei and Aru. In Papua New Guinea it has been recorded on the islands of Yule, Umboi, in the Trobiriand group, Normanby and Rossel. It has also been recorded throughout the Bismarck Archipelago on New Britain, Duke of York, New Ireland the St. Matthias group and Mussau island (O’Shea 1996). In Australia, this species is found in on the Cape York Peninsula, northeastern Queensland and on the Torres Strait Islands (Wilson and Swan 2013, Cogger 2014).

Countries occurrence:
Australia (Queensland); Indonesia (Papua); Papua New Guinea (Bismarck Archipelago, Papua New Guinea (main island group))
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:520963
Upper elevation limit (metres):1600
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:This species is relatively abundant throughout its range.
Current Population Trend:Stable
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:

This species occupies a wide variety of habitats from dry sclerophyll forest, vine thickets, scrubby vegetation on coral cays, savanna woodland, swamps, montane rainforest and modified areas such as plantations, rural gardens and urban areas. Particularly young specimens may be considered arboreal as they spend great deal of time in trees while large individuals appear to be primarily terrestrial although they are easily capable of climbing. This species is nocturnal and frequently encountered along river banks, around buildings or crossing roads. It is a ‘sit and wait’ predator with a diet including mammals (rats, wallabies, rodents, opossums and wild pigs), birds and lizards (goannas and skinks). Mating occurs during cool winter months when pythons are observed to congregate in sunny and fairly open areas, protected valleys and hillsides. It is oviparous species and has a clutch size of between 5 – 21 (Barker and Barker 1994; Allison et al. 1998; O’Shea 1996, 2007; Wilson and Swan 2003). 

Congregatory:Congregatory (and dispersive)

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Yuwono (1998) recorded trade of this species (as then understood) from Indonesian New Guinea and the Moluccas, and reported that it was always available in adequate numbers. Indonesian specimens - wild, farmed and captive-bred - are regularly shipped abroad with the main consumers being in North America, the EU and East Asia (M. Auliya pers. comm. 2017). This species is listed under CITES but does not have protected status in Indonesia. Indigenous people in parts of Western Province, Papua New Guinea hunt this species for food.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): It is unlikely that any major threats are impacting this species. This species is present in the pet trade, but current levels of harvest and trade are unlikely to be posing a significant threat (M. Auliya pers. comm. 2010). It is also occasionally killed as a pest by chicken farmers (Barker and Barker 1994).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). This species has protected status in Papua New Guinea but not in Indonesian New Guinea (Natusch and Lyons 2012). This species occurs in many protected areas in New Guinea. A programme to monitor the harvest and trade levels of specific island subpopulations in New Guinea at potential risk from overexploitation is recommended. This species' range coincides with a number of protected areas in Australia. Taxonomic research is recommended to validate the assignment of Australian and Indonesian subpopulations to distinct species, and to determine the appropriate names for these taxa.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.5. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
1. Forest -> 1.6. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
1. Forest -> 1.9. Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Montane
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
2. Savanna -> 2.1. Savanna - Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
2. Savanna -> 2.2. Savanna - Moist
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
3. Shrubland -> 3.5. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
3. Shrubland -> 3.6. Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.4. Artificial/Terrestrial - Rural Gardens
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.5. Artificial/Terrestrial - Urban Areas
suitability:Suitable season:resident 
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.6. Artificial/Terrestrial - Subtropical/Tropical Heavily Degraded Former Forest
suitability:Suitable season:resident 

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
  Included in international legislation:Yes
  Subject to any international management/trade controls:Yes
5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing ♦ scope:Unknown ♦ severity:Negligible declines ⇒ Impact score:Unknown 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.1. Taxonomy

Bibliography [top]

Allison, A., Bickford, D., Richards, S. and Torr, G. 1998. Herpetofauna and Appendix 15. Herpetofauna species accounts. In: A.L. Mack (ed.), A Biological Assessment of the Lakekamu Basin, Papua New Guinea. RAP Working Papers 9, pp. 58-62 and 157-172. Conservation International, Washington, DC.

Barker, D.G. and Barker, T.M. 1994. Pythons of the World: Australia. The Herpetocultural Library.

Cogger, H.G. 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia: Seventh Edition. CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood, Victoria.

Fearn, S. 1998. A range extension for the scrub python Morelia amethistina (Serpentes: Boidae): A record from Magnetic Island, North Queensland. Herpetofauna 28(2): 39-40.

Grigg, G., Shine, R. and Ehmann, H. 1985. Biology of Australian Frogs and Reptiles. Surrey Beatty & Sons, New South Wales.

Harvey, M.B., Barker, D.G., Ammerman, L.K. and Chippindale, P.T. 2000. Systematics of Pythons of the Morelia amethistina Complex (Serpentes: Boidae) with the Description of Three New Species. Herpetological Monographs 14: 139-185.

IUCN. 2017. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2017-3. Available at: (Accessed: 5 December 2017).

Natusch, D.J.D. and Lyons, J.A. 2012. Exploited for pets. The harvest and trade of amphibians and reptiles from Indonesia New Guinea. Biodiversity Conservation 21: 2899-2911.

O'Shea, M. 1996. A Guide to the Snakes of Papua New Guinea. Independent Publishing, Independent Group Ltd., Port Moresby, PNG.

O'Shea, M. 2007. Boas and Pythons of the World. New Holland, London.

Torr, G. 2000. Pythons of Australia: A Natural History. Krieger Publishing Class, Florida.

Wilson, S. and Swan, G. 2003. A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia. New Holland, Sydney.

Wilson, S. and Swan, G. 2013. A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia. New Holland Publishers, Sydney.

Yuwono, F.B. 1998. The trade of live reptiles & amphibians in Indonesia. In W. Erdelen (ed.) Conservation, Trade & Sustainable Use of Lizards & Snakes in Indonesia. Mertensiella 9: 9-16.

Citation: Tallowin, O., Allison, A., Parker, F. & O'Shea, M. 2017. Morelia amethistina. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T177501A1489667. . Downloaded on 21 July 2018.
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