Mate-guarding in free-ranging Carpet Pythons (Morelia spilota)

Mark Fitzgerald, Richard Shine*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Carpet Pythons (Morelia spilota) exhibit substantial geographic variation not only in size and colour, but also in mating systems: reproductive males in some populations battle with their rivals, whereas courting males in other locations tolerate the proximity of others. During the spring mating season (August-September) of 2017, a large male Carpet Python took up residence with a reproductive female on the roof of a house in northeastern New South Wales for at least six weeks, and was observed in intense battles with two rival males that arrived at the site. Bouts progressed from stereotyped wrestling to vigorous biting, causing severe lesions. This (apparently successful) mate defence constitutes the first report of prolonged mate-guarding behaviour in any pythonid species.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)434-439
Number of pages6
JournalAustralian Zoologist
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • escalated conflict
  • mating system
  • sexual selection
  • snake


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