Snakes are loathsome animals and they have always suffered bias from the human race. However, a python estimated at 93kg at the wild side of Entebbe has continued to attract huge crowds. This was after it laid about 100 eggs on New Year’s Day at the Uganda Wildlife Education Centre (UWEC), formerly Entebbe Zoo.
According to Scovia Musimenta, UWEC’s assistant public relations officer, inquisitive visitors have camped where the snakes are kept seeking to know about the giant snake and its eggs.
“We have four pythons and one of them laid about 100 eggs,” said Musimenta, adding that they expect about 50 to hatch into baby pythons.” Python guards eggs On Friday when we visited the centre, there were three groups of people that spent about half an hour asking questions about the pythons. They included children, women and men who watched the eggs and the pythons across the glass barrier.
The mother python rested her body on top of the eggs while the other three pythons gave her company in the artificially constructed cave. Hannington Bulemu, a reptile keeper at UWEC, said the pythons can easily be distinguished, pointing out that the males are much smaller than the females and also have different body patterns.
He siad this helps the animal keepers to easily identify the African rock pythons even when they do not have names. In their territory, the pythons wriggled and hissed. Bulemu said they were irritated by our presence and that the next move was to raise their heads and strike at us.
I panicked and wanted to flee, but Bulemu warned that I should not make unnecessary movements since the snakes do not have good eyesight, but depend on vibrations through the ground to detect any advancing movements. He said the mother python stays near the eggs most of the time, keeping them warm and safe until they hatch. He explained that the eggs are softer than those of chicken and feel a bit like leather.
“The eggs will hatch after 90 days (three months),” said Bulemu, adding that the animal keepers at the wildlife education center are preparing for a python baby boom.
Offsprings for park Musimenta said they are expecting about 50 baby pythons and that they will be hand-raised. They will be released in a safe place such as Murchison Falls National Park. She said the pythons are fed on chicken every two weeks and it will become expensive once they become many. Bulemu said sometimes Born-Again Christians question why he looks after the serpents.
They pray and do not relent even when he tells them the devil does not necessarily torment the human race through snakes. He said pythons live in wetlands, but there is massive encroachment on their habitat.