Skip to main content

Kaa is our main squeeze for World Snake Day!

Posted by Elizabeth Bacher, Communications
Photos: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

Hello, Kaa! Snakes "smell" with their tongues, or more precisely use them to pick up scents in the air. 

July 16 is World Snake Day, a day to appreciate these amazing and often misunderstood reptiles. All over the world, snakes play a vital role in maintaining balance in ecosystems—both as predators and as prey. Who better to serve as an ambassador for all of snake-dom than Kaa, our 19-year-old, male reticulated python.

Our animal keepers estimate that Kaa is currently around 17 feet long and probably weighs between 125-135 pounds.

Kaa—who is named after the Jungle Book character—arrived at Woodland Park Zoo 11 years ago and he currently lives in a habitat maintained just for him in the Trail of Vines area right next to our orangutan habitat. Reticulated pythons are native to southeast Asia and, when full grown, are among the longest snakes in the world—and they keep growing throughout their lifetime! Our awesome reptile keepers estimate that Kaa is currently around 17 feet long and probably weighs between 125-135 lbs.

Reticulated pythons are not venomous. They, like anacondas and boa constrictors, hunt by wrapping themselves around their prey and suffocating it. It takes a LOT of strength to be able to do that kind of “big squeeze,” which means that Kaa is basically 17 feet of muscle! Unless there’s a reason related to his health or safety, we don’t typically lift or move him—but if that was needed, our animal care staff estimate it would take four or five of them to be able to do the job!

Would you rather go climbing, slithering, or swimming? If you're as long as Kaa you can do all three at once!

Our keepers say that Kaa is quite calm, mellow and chill. He is pretty good at climbing trees and branches, but he seems to prefer being on solid ground in his current habitat. And if you spot him, you might notice that his coloration and scale pattern provide great camouflage for hiding amongst leaves or tree bark—the perfect adaptation for life in the rainforest!

The beautiful pattern of the scales on a reticulated python's body provide great camouflage for hiding amongst leaves or tree bark.

Like most big constrictors, Kaa doesn’t need to eat every day. Once every couple of weeks or so, our keepers will give him a rabbit (frozen and thawed). Snakes don’t have the kind of teeth for chewing. Their jaw is structured in such a way that it allows their mouth to open wider than their own body to swallow their prey whole. Then, over the coming days or even a couple weeks, they’ll slowly digest their meal.

Next time you’re visiting Woodland Park Zoo, we hope you’ll come to the Trail of Vines to see Kaa and say hi to our “main squeeze”! We also invite you to consider how important snakes are in general for maintaining balance in the ecosystem and all the reasons why they deserve our appreciation and respect.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for highlighting the python! I think he has not been in his exhibit the last couple times we came by. It makes me miss the Day Exhibit, though, as I think Kaa is the only snake left at the zoo (on exhibit).