Black-headed Python

Order:  Squamata (scaled reptiles)
Suborder:  Serpentes (=Ophidia) (snakes)
Family:  Boidae ( boas and pythons)
Genus:  Aspidites (fence and spiny lizards)

Scientific Name:  Aspidites melanocephalus Krefft, 1864

Habitat:  Found in a variety of habitats from tropical forest to dry woodland to arid regions.

aspid="shield," ites="bearer," melano="black," cephalus="head"

Length: to over 8 feet total.
Food:  Small mammals, birds, reptiles (venomous snakes included). Black-headed Python Range

I found this absolutely beautiful snake crossing the Carpentaria Highway.  This particular specimen wasn't very big; maybe 3 feet long (see photograph with my foot in view for reference).  The pictures don't do it justice:  in the glare of the headlights, the animal initially appeared to be striped in black and white.  After getting a closer look, the colors appeared as they do here--beige striped with dark brown, with a glossy black head.

Black-headed Python
It is thought the dark coloration of the head is useful in thermoregulation--the snake can be safely hidden in a burrow, crevice, or hollow log, with only the head exposed.  The black head heats up the blood as well as the brain more quickly, allowing the snake to remain alert while the rest of its body warms up.
Another interesting feature of these pythons is that they don't normally constrict their prey--in the case of rodents and other terrestrial mammals, the python uses its body to crush the prey against the side of the burrow or hollow log. Threat Display
Upon being confronted with a flashlight and video camera, this specimen "perked up" and struck a defensive posture (last photograph), complete with some sort of strange head-bobbing behavior--not really striking, but "jerking" its head upwards which I assume is supposed to be a threat.

 I looked into prices for captive-bred black-headed pythons, because after seeing this example, as well as a much larger one which disappeared before I could get the car turned around, I was very interested in keeping them.  The current high prices have discouraged me, though!

Black-headed Python