Jungle Carpet Python
The ventral surface of the Jungle Carpet Python – Morelia spilota cheynei (Wells & Wellington, 1984) is brilliant white. Optimising visibility to the eyesight of nocturnal fauna, including diminutive blossom bats and adorable striped possums, white also allows nocturnal fauna to be better seen, for important purposes such as mate-selection. Jungle Carpet Pythons are also equipped along their jaw-lines with highly-evolved heat-sensing pits, rich with infrared receptors. Ambush is their most efficient predatory stratagem, but nocturnally-conspicuous warm-blooded mammals are super-sensitive to the underlying danger signal of white, so pythons conceal their ventral surfaces along tree trunks and branches and in the cavernous pitch of the nocturnal rainforest, a python, so positioned, can strike at the concentrated heat-signature of the passing mammals.
For the requirements of greater efficiency, pythons exploit the abundant resources of their upper-story habitat, with the majority of their nutritional needs high-lighted nocturnally by the distinctive heat-signatures of warm-blooded organisms and all of their water requirements are well met through the consumption of such prey. Giant epiphytes, growing within the upper reaches of the rainforest canopy, maximise access to the energy of the sun and also capture falling leaves from above, establishing horizontal platforms that form excellent python habitat. In such settings, pythons exploit the greater quantity of sunlight to assist with digestion and other thermoregulatory requirements. Descending to the forest-floor expends considerable energy, as does the return climb to the top and the heavier the python, the greater the scale of inefficiency. Huge pythons rarely descend to the forest-floor. I have no doubt that the original human inhabitants utilised the descendent root-structures of stranglers as natural ladders, to source the biggest of the pythons, for all their considerable nutritional value, consequently relieving pressure on populations of arboreal mammals, with significant flow-on benefits for rainforest integrity.