Savu Island Python - Liasis savuensis




The Savu Python has become one of my all time favorite snakes to work with. In recent years I have maintained a small group of these animals and their confident personality and quiet beauty have won me over. One distinctive feature that I find appealing is the distinctive white iris. This species also has an iridescent sheen to the scalation which is quite attractive. Savu’s undergo an ontogenetic color change through the course of life beginning as a coral colored hatchling and developing varying amounts of melanin as they mature. Adult males tend to retain more of the neonate coloration than females which become much darker with age. As mentioned previously this is a confident snake that is generally territorial and sometimes considered cage aggressive. Either the snakes themselves have incredibly bad aim, or the striking is primarily bluff since they rarely seem to hit their target. Of the many occasions in which my Savu’s have struck at me – not once have I actually been bitten despite making no real attempt to avoid this. Once in hand they tend to abandon this tactic and are generally easy to handle. Adults usually top out in the five foot range which makes this a very manageable species of python to keep.


Known to science since 1993, this python hails from the tiny island of Savu west of Timor in the south Pacific. The Savu Python has the distinction of having the smallest range of any known python species and is confined to its relatively small island home which is 23 x 10 miles in surface area. Once considered a subspecies of the Macklotts Python or even the Brown Water Python it has since been given full species status due to its geographic isolation and morphological differences. Little is known about this snakes native haunts and it is generally cited as living in a hot and humid environment. I have researched more about the conditions on this island and discovered that Savu Island is actually dry for much of the year with arid breezes blowing north from central Australia. I should mention that an alternate spelling for this island is Sawu which is often amended to Savu since Latin contains no letter “w”.  The language of taxonomy is Latin thus the spelling change in this snake’s specific name.


These snakes have good appetites and feed well on appropriate sized rodents. I prefer frozen/ thawed and this presents no problems. More of a burrower than a climber Savu’s appreciate a generous layer of substrate in their enclosure. I prefer cypress mulch which I mist with a spray bottle weekly. The snakes themselves seem to resent this intrusion but the elevated humidity equates to good sheds and healthy animals. Like other Liasis this is a thin skinned species that may well be prone to desiccation in caging that is kept perpetually dry.


I highly recommend savu pythons to anyone that shares an interest in snakes that tend to have strong personalities. I consider this a “snake guys” type snake. If you are in to keeping snakes for the unadulterated pleasure of working with interesting animals – this species may be for you.             – Phil Peak -