The first recorded holotype (RMNH 9651) of the Boelen’s Python, Morelia boeleni, was December 25, 1952 by K.W.J. Boelen. This particular snake was found in Dimija (3:56S, 136:18E) near Wissel Lake, Paniai district, about 1,750 meters above sea level.

In 1953, Brongersma described and placed this species in the genus, Liasis, where it remained until 1993. Based on physical and genetic analysis, Kluge (1993) placed this species in the genus Morelia which it is currently accepted today as Morelia boeleni.

Boelen’s Pythons can reach lengths of 3 meters (possibly larger) and have a long, slender muscular appearance where the head is very distinct from the body. The head is one of the most striking features being large, broad, and thick. The labials are barred in bright yellow/white coloration with the chin containing black and yellow/white mottling.

The broad distinct head is one of the many
attractive features of this amazing python.
Photo by Spataro

The barring, also referred as “finger markings”, continues down the upper two thirds of the body which fades into the beautiful black iridescent tail section. There seems to be no sexual dimorphism in this species with the exception in captivity females will be more heavily bodied than males. Hatchlings and juveniles are reddish brown with faint barring which develops as the young snake matures. The ontogenetic color change occurs around two years of age and/or when the snake reaches lengths greater than one meter.

A hatchling Morelia boeleni exhibiting
the reddish brown body combined with
the faint barring. The ontogenetic color
change will occur around two years of age.
Photo by Barker

Scalation for Morelia boeleni are as follows: dorsal scales at mid-body average 44-51, all smooth; ventrals average 282-298; subcaudal 57-64 almost all paired; anal plate single; loreal scales 6-12 small and numerous; supralabial scales 8-11 with the 5th and 6th touching the eye; infralabials 14-17; preoculars 2; postoculars2-4; two pairs of prefontals, all contacting loreals; 2 pairs of parietals followed by a small post-parietal (O’Shea 1996). The scales of Morelia boeleni are large and smooth having a feeling of velvet when touched.

The scalation on the head of Morelia
boeleni is truly magnificent.
Photo by Sola

A female Boelen's Python seeking
cover in her natural habitat.
Photo by Baldogo.

Classification of Morelia boeleni:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Reptilia

Order: Squamata

Suborder: Serpentes

Genera: Morelia

Species: boeleni

Common Names: Boelen’s Python, Black Python, Sanca bulan

Related species:

Morelia amethistina: Amethystine/Scrub Python

Morelia bredli: Bredl’s/Centralian Python

Morelia carinata: Rough-scaled Python

Morelia clastolepis: Moluccan Python

Morelia kinghorni: Australian Amethystine/Scrub

Morelia nauta: Tanibar Python

Morelia oenpelliensis: Oenpelli Python

Morelia spilota: Carpet/Diamond Python

Morelia tracyae: Halmahera Python

Morelia viridis: Green Tree Python

Genetically, the Amythistine Python, Morelia amethistina, is the closest related species to the Boelen's Python. Phenotypically they are very similar as well. Both have very large plate type scales upon the head, long slender bodies, and a beautiful iridescence.
Photos by Fernanda Pellegrini

CLICK HERE FOR Brongresma Historical Descrption PDF

Boelen's Pythons within their natural habitat exhibiting basking behavior. Photos by Baldogo and Spataro



I spy a boeleni………..Photo by Baldogo


© 2007 Marc A. Spataro