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 New findings concerning Woma Pythons

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Serpentwoman
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PostSubject: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Sun Oct 05, 2008 11:30 pm

I've been doing alot of research and there has been some very interesting finding recently concerning the Aspidites species. (Black Head and Woma)

The first discovery concerns them actually having a heat pit. Up until now, it was thought that Aspidites was the only species of python that did not have heat sensing pits. The pit is located directly in the front of the mouth and is apparent when the snake lifts its head. I am wondering, though, if this organ not only able to sense heat, but also electro-magnetic currents, as my Womas will move towards the camera, a cordless telephone, or even a regular TV remote, head held at a 45 degree angle, which seems to give both the heat sensing pit and the Jacobsons organ full advantage. Now this theory would make sense, considering in the wild, only a small percentage of rodents are part of Aspidites diet, which mostly consists of other reptiles and amphibians. Anyways, I'll be checking in on this one more in depth.

This is a copy of the basic findings on the report concerning heat sensing pits, provided by Australian Python breeder, Derek Roddy:

"Finally somebody has done research into the belief that Aspidites do have heat sensing pits, it has now been proven.
Have a read of the following if you are interested.

A New Type of Infrared Sensitive Organ in the Python Aspidites sp.
by Guido Westhoff Shaun P. Collin
Pythons are well known to possess an infrared sense enabling them to perceive infrared radiation. It is believed that the infrared sense is mainly used to localise their warm blooded prey. The infrared sensitive organs are comprised of infrared sensitive thermoreceptors, which are embedded within specialised pits of the labial scales. Infrared signals are detected by these pits lined with thermoreceptors, which project to the cns via the trigeminal nerve and a specialised nucleus within the hindbrain (nucleus of the lateral descending trigeminal tract: nLTTD) to be relayed towards the midbrain and forebrain. The nLTTD is only found in infrared sensitive snakes. Aspidites sp. are the only members of the Pythoninae that do not possess labial pits. The lack of labial pits and thus the obvious lack of the infrared sense in Aspidites have been interpreted in the past either as a primitive character of this genus or as a secondarily loss due to the fact that these pythons feed on-cold blooded prey. We investigated a conspicuous U-shaped single pit located in the rostralia of Aspidites sp. which points downward in a resting specimen but clearly faces forward if the python raises its head. The rostral position and the overall shape of the pit allow frontal object localisation to be mediated by shadowing, where certain regions of the pit are differentially stimulated with regard to the position of objects in front of the animal. Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) has confirmed that the ultrastructure of the fundus of the pit resembles the fundus of labial pits in other pythons i.e. it possesses enlarged shingle like cells with micropits. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) also reveals the presence of typical infrared thermoreceptors within the pit that are not found in other scales. Furthermore, the brain of Aspidites melanocephalus reveals a structure that can be regarded as a nLTTD. We propose that Aspidites clearly possesses an infrared sense and the unusual position of the single, downwardly-directed pit in the rostralia has evolved in response to its fossorial lifestyle i.e. to avoid damage to the pit from soil and debris. This arrangement is clearly different to the open labial pits of other pythons, which are directed laterally from the head. This work was partly supported by the Feodor-Lynen program of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Type: oral contribution
Theme: reptiles, snakes, morphology
Entity: Westhoff: Institute of Zoology University of Bonn Poppelsdorfer Schloss 53115 Bonn, GERMANY e-mail: gwesthof@uni-bonn.de Collin: Room A205 Ritchie Research Laboratories School of Biomedical Sciences The University of Queensland Brisbane, Queensland 4072 Australia e-mail: s.collin@uq.edu.au



This is something I've had a feeling about for a very long time. I have seen BHP's and Womas show preference to warm or hot items.... over cool prey items before and that's what got me thinking about heat pit theory.
For instance....coffee cups, warm water buckets, fingers, etc....

You can clearly see the single pit under the rostal area... on the top jaw.


Glad to see science discovering and changing what we "know" about these animals.

I've had a feeling about this........ since I started keeping Aspidites many years ago."


Now a second new finding concerning Aspidites, is (and you are going to LOVE this one) the presence of venom glands. They are very small, but they are venom glands, nonetheless. The next step in these findings is trying to decipher if this species is evolving into or away from a venomous species. In talking with Mr. Roddy, he told me about being bitten by a Woma some years ago and having a reaction at the site equivalent to "an incredibly bad case of poison ivy." This says that the venom has more of a histamine reaction that actual toxic reaction and it is still unknown at this point if the venom is injected and distributed through hollowed fangs.

So still alot more research to be done to find all the answers. Regardless, though, it looks like Aspidites may be completely restructured in the future and will no longer be classified as a python.

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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Mon Oct 06, 2008 11:46 am

Do yall own a Woma? Has it ever biten you?I had a Redtail Boa that never bit my but a friends Ball python got me real good once. Hurt like heck.
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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:03 pm

Yes, we actually inherited a future breeding pair of Womas a couple months ago. By far, the most laid back, wet noodles I have ever had. They're both just the sweetest natured animals. I haven't been bit by them, thankfully, and now that I've learned about the reaction, I hope I never do.
My burms are the ones notorious for biting me. Hurts like the dickens!

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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Mon Oct 06, 2008 12:14 pm

Yeah I bet it does hurt. How big are the Womas/
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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:00 pm

The female is around 3 feet and the male more towards 5 feet.

This is the female, Willow


And her mate, Sidney


They're a "mid-range" pythons, so neither of them will reach 6 feet long.

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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Mon Oct 06, 2008 4:15 pm

Absolutely beautiful
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Jon



Registration date : 2010-11-10

PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Wed Nov 10, 2010 11:48 pm

I have also noticed that my woma is prone to like warm objects over cool ones, but this not so surprising, as it seems most reptiles prefer warm objects over cold ones. As for the venom glands, very interesting. The female I am getting this weekend is rumored to be nippy, so I will keep a look out for any signs or symptoms of a venom.
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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Thu Nov 11, 2010 11:44 pm

You're right, it is common for reptiles to favor warm items over cooler ones. I think its more of an observation on how the Womas react, I guess. Its like the difference between how non-pitted species, like Colubrids recognize emitted heat as opposed to pitted species, like the constrictors and pit vipers.
It has been very interesting to actually see them raise their head at the 45* angle to take full advantage of the heat pit and Jacobson's organ. Whats really amazing is watching them turn their heads when I pick up a remote or cordless phone. Are they sensing a difference in temperature? Or are they sensing the electromagnetic current? (Considering about 15% of the Womas' diet (in the wild) consist of other reptiles, and reptiles being cold-blooded wouldn't neccessarily release a heat signature)

Whatever it is, these are simply amazing creatures.



Please let me know if you have any reaction to a bite. I haven't been keeping up with the research as much as I'd like to have been, but there has been studies initiated to try and determine whether we are dealing with a potential rear fanged species or if the mild venom, like with Beardies, is actually in the saliva.

(Don't mean to offer you up as the guinea pig, but I can't get mine to bite for anything!)

By the way- Welcome to the forums! Smile
We're glad to have you here and its great to meet another Aussie python owner!

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Jon



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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Sat Nov 13, 2010 12:05 am

Well, I got her today, and she is a gorgeous specimen, and they both seem quite happy to be in the same cage. She was a little nervous when I first went to pick her up, but she never struck, and was very calm after I started handling her, though I noticed she was very head shy, just like my male. For so docile a snake, the head shyness seems strange, as for the bite, nope.
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Jon



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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Sat Nov 13, 2010 12:38 am

Here is a link to my Woma photos.
Or, it is susposed to be a link in the even that it dosent work.
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=41424&id=100000524518076&l=900a8d2eb7
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Serpentwoman
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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:39 pm

Very pretty Womas, Jon!
Both of mine are headshy also. More so the female. Must just be the nature of the species?

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PostSubject: Re: New findings concerning Woma Pythons   Tue Nov 23, 2010 10:21 am

I think the head shyness is a species trait, and thank you, they are both very nice looking snakes.
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