Royal, or ball, pythons belong to the Boid family of snakes, including all pythons and boas. Royal pythons are one of the smaller species only growing to around 1.5m (5ft) in length.
Royal (or ball) pythons are found in the rain forests of West Africa, particularly Ghana and Togo. Although they can climb, they spend most of their time on the ground.
All snakes are carnivores (meat eaters). Royal pythons eat rodents and in the wild they feed almost exclusively on gerbils.
Female royal pythons lay eggs, which they curl round and incubate. Pythons can live for up to 40 years.
Royal pythons are not currently classed as endangered due to their large range, however they are threatened by the international pet trade, as well as hunting for meat and leather.