Effect of feeding on circulating micronutrient concentrations in the Burmese python (Python molurus)

Academic Article


  • Burmese pythons (Python molurus) regulate digestive performance and metabolism with the ingestion of each meal. To explore the python's postprandial responses, we monitored the concentrations of blood micronutrients and homocysteine during fasting and for 15 days after feeding. Plasma folate concentrations peaked with a 270% increase over fasting levels 3 days after feeding, whereas plasma B-12 peaked with a 66% increase within 1 day. Erythrocyte folate concentrations were highest 15 days after feeding with a 44% increase. The major plasma folate was 5-methyltetrahydrofolate during fasting and was non-5-methyltetrahydrofolate during digestion, whereas erythrocytes contained polyglutamyl forms of non-5-methyltetrahydrofolate. Plasma homocysteine concentrations peaked with a 56% increase 3 days after feeding, and were markedly greater than those of mammals. Plasma zinc and copper did not change significantly. Plasma zinc concentrations were 20 times greater than plasma copper and approximately 30 times higher than those of mammals. Pythons showed a significant postprandial decline of 25% in hematocrit. Plasma pyridoxal 5′-phosphate (coenzyme form of vitamin B-6) was not detected probably due to its tight protein binding. Most micronutrient concentrations appear to plateau 3 days after feeding, suggesting that pythons have relatively rapid homeostasis of micronutrients despite the ingestion of large meals. © 2001 Elsevier Science Inc.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Secor SM; Nagy TR; Johnston KE; Tamura T
  • Start Page

  • 673
  • End Page

  • 679
  • Volume

  • 129
  • Issue

  • 2-3