Pythons are found all through the low-country but are commonest in the bush-covered plains along the coast, in the open glades of the forest and near rivers and tanks. They are called in Sinhalese pimburą and in Tamil venkanāti-pāmbu. They are generally come on, lying across narrow places where deer and pigs are likely to pass, when they are not easily seen as the irregular diamond-shaped markings on their backs correspond almost exactly with the leaf-strewn grass in which they lie hidden. Sportsmen have often stepped over them when out shooting, and been startled by seeing the huge snake move under them. Pythons may also be seen submerged in jungle and river pools with only their heads above water, lying in wait for game coming to drink. They kill many fawns, young pigs and other animals which they swallow whole, remaining in a comatose condition for a number of days after the gorge. It is said that they have been found in a torpid state with an entire deer, antlers and all, inside them. They are not poisonous but any person treading on one might get a nasty bite. These reptiles grow to a great size ; one 32 feet long is said to have been killed, but there is no doubt they have often been seen over 20 feet in length. A python exceeding 12 feet may, however, be considered to be a large one.
Natives believe that they draw their prey towards them by sucking in their breath, but as a matter of fact pythons seize their victims by their teeth and kill them by constriction. Natives believe, too, that they have hooks in their tails.
The skin is pretty and is often made into slippers and other articles. Servants as a rule object to being ordered to skin these creatures, chiefly because they, though quite dead, wriggle in such a life-like way during the operation, owing to muscular contraction.
Cobras, tic-polongas and other snakes are often met with on jungle trips. They are most numerous near rivers and tanks where they can catch numbers of rats and frogs and other small creatures. The record cobra was killed in the Northern Province in 1898 and measured seven feet four inches in length. Any over six feet may be considered of unusual size.