Simalia Nauta 'Tanimbar python'

gallery/morelia nauta map

Simalia Nauta is a small sized snake from the Amethystine python complex. It originates from the Tanimbar island and therefore it is also called the Tanimbar python. This island never had a connection with the mainland so therefore this species must have arrived by sea, This clarifies the name Nauta which means sailor in latin.

The Simalia Nauta can easily be distinguished from its ancestor, the Morelia amethistina not only by the basic morfological differences detailed below, but also by the scalation of the head. Besides the smaller differences, the difference on the parietalia is the most striking. While both parietalia of the Amethystine python have two, that of the Morelia nauta have four parts. As the snakes' having big head-scales is an atavistic feature, this characteristic of the Simalia Nauta proves that this species developed later, as the consequence of the isolation, than the Simalia Amethistina.

gallery/morelia amysthystina scales

Like other snakes from the amethystina complex Simalia Nauta has an arboreal lifestyle. This species is the smalles of it's complex reaching a maximun length of 2 meters. Although it's body is slender it is not flattened like Morelia Tracyae or even better Morelia Viridis. Simalia Nauta has a fairly large head for it's body size and it has long teeth. This indicates it's diet mainly consists of birds which have a thick layer of feathers. These characteristics ensure the holding of the prey for animals hunting in the foliage. The big eyes and the heat-sensitive thermoreceptive labial pits refer to a night lifestyle. Its eyesight seems to be much better compared to other boids.

Although its colour has been changed a lot compared to the Amethystine python, the traces of the dark strip from the temple to the nose and of the striking light part next to the lip, which characterise the ancestors, can be seen on the adult Morelia nauta, too. The most common colour is patternless silver, which can range from light silver to graphite tending to black. It is the most typical of the silver ones that where the sun meets their skin more intensively, light is reflected as taken to its components. This iridescence is especially remarkable at the darker snakes.

gallery/morelia nauta 2
gallery/morelia nauta 4
gallery/morelia nauta 5

The gold ones have a brownish base, but where it faces the sun it may seem to be yellowish. This colour can the best be compared to the Indonesian variant of the Leiopython albertisii. Rarely both variants have so called spotted specimens, whose bodies have white spots scattered unsystematically or longitudinal short bands. Each specimen has a white belly, while at the edge of the caudal some light strips may appear.

The Simalia Nauta is a medium tempered species, it is very aware of it's surroundings and will take a defensive posture quickly. My experience is that when handled with care this species will not bite fast. Remember this is a very fast species with long teeth, so when they bite you will feel it. They do not live a night life as strictly as other pythons do. They often move during the day, too, what makes their feeding easier, and, moreover, their actual behaviour can be studied more thoroughly.

This species can be kept in a terrarium with the minimal dimensions of 60x60x60 centimeters. The interior can be the same as that of the Morelia Viridis. despite of being arboreal they will regularly rest on the floor. Make sure there is alot of foliage in the cage so they can hide and have a safe feeling. Because they are very aware of there surroundings these snakes can stress out very quickly when they don't have enough places to hide. Heating can be done with a heatpanel which are perfect for arboreal species.
Young Nautas can be kept in rack system, when they are 1,5 years old they can be transfered to a larger cage like described above.

gallery/morelia nauta 3

In the wild Nautas will mainly feed on birds but small mammals also belong to there diet. In captivity feeding them with rodents should be prefered. Young specimens can be fed with baby rats and later switch them to springer mice. I feed my animals thawed rodents which are left in the cage overnight. In my experience they are good feeders, they rarely skip a meal. try not to feed them to much because rodents have a higher nutritional value then birds. Therefore three meals a month is enough.

Personally I have no experience breeding this species, records say that breeding this species is not easy. Because Tanimbar island lies around the equator the climate there is steady all over the year. You can try to simulate a dry and a wet period to stimulate the animals. Like other python species the male should be placed within the females cage every several weeks until the female ovulates. After 50-80 days the female will lay 15 to 25 eggs. Make sure to place several laying boxes in the females cage so she can determine the best spot.