Love The Burmese Python
This 11-year-old male is an impressive snake. He is very large and stunningly patterned. He has found that people are often scared of him, in fact, they seem to be scared of most snakes. But he is a respectful creature, only eating when he’s hungry and an important part of his ecosystem. He wishes more humans were as respectful and didn’t want to adorn themselves with his skin just because they think it looks nice. It is because of this that his kind is now vulnerable to extinction.
The 6th largest snake in the world, the Burmese python is huge, averaging 12 feet in length but able to grow as long as 23. Native to Southeast Asia and found in Southern Asia and Florida, this tropical, water-loving snake slithers through both the water and trees with a prehensile tail, a tail that is very good at grasping onto things. They are fantastic swimmers and can hold their breath for up to 30 minutes.
The Burmese python is carnivorous and mostly eats birds and mammals. With very poor eyesight they must rely on heat receptors on their lips and chemical receptors on their tongue to find their prey which they ambush. They kill their prey by seizing them with their sharp teeth before wrapping their body around the creature and contracting their strong muscles to kill them. This is called constriction. They can often be found living near human settlements because of the easy access to rats and mice. Extra-large pythons have been known to eat alligators and even deer. After their meal, they need a lot of time to digest. They swallow their prey whole, ingesting every part of the animal, which amazingly they can digest almost entirely, all except hair and feathers. While digesting, the snake goes through some impressive changes, changing its entire digestive system to help the process before heading back to a period of fasting.
Usually solitary animals, the Burmese python is usually only found together during mating. The female will lay a clutch of between 12-36 eggs which she will guard until they hatch, wrapping her large body around them and increasing their temperature by twitching her muscles. Once the babies are ready to hatch, she will leave. The babies can break free of their shell using their egg tooth, a temporary sharp tooth-like object that helps them cut through the tough shell. They will stay inside their shell until they have shed their first skin, then they will head out to look for their first meal.
Burmese pythons have beautiful skin. Unfortunately, this has been noticed by many and so they are hunted and killed for their leather as well as for use in traditional instruments. They are also used in traditional medicines, eaten, used in snake wine, and captured as pets. Habitat degradation is also a problem, particularly as it decreases their prey base. Ironically, one species is thriving and that is the population in Florida where it is an invasive species and seen as a threat to the ecosystem.
HOW TO HELP
Based off real animals that Gillie and Marc met while travelling, the public will be able to meet individual animals.
With public art, more people will come into contact with these sculptures, will stop and consider them, will take a photograph, and will discuss this with their friends and family. Through this increased exposure, the message of love, family, and conservation will be spread much further than any piece of art in a gallery ever could. It will bring people into close contact and will help them to fall in love. With love comes a greater urge to want to create a change and save all endangered animals.
The sculpture will be aligned with the hashtags #LoveTheLast to raise unparalleled awareness about the sculpture’s cause across the globe.
To help protect these animals, please donate to the WWF: https://www.wwf.sg/SOURCES