The animal on the cover of Python in a Nutshell, Third Edition, is an African rock python (Python sebae), one of approximately 18 species of python. Pythons are nonvenomous constrictor snakes that live in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, Australia, and some Pacific Islands. Pythons live mainly on the ground, but they are also excellent swimmers and climbers. Both male and female pythons retain vestiges of their ancestral hind legs. The male python uses these vestiges, or spurs, when courting a female.

The python kills its prey by suffocation. While the snake’s sharp teeth grip and hold the prey in place, the python’s long body coils around its victim’s chest, constricting tighter each time it breathes out. They feed primarily on mammals and birds. Python attacks on humans are extremely rare.

Many of the animals on O’Reilly covers are endangered; all of them are important to the world. To learn more about how you can help, go to

The cover image is a 19th-century engraving from the Dover Pictorial Archive. The cover fonts are URW Typewriter and Guardian Sans. The text font is Adobe Minion Pro; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is Dalton Maag’s Ubuntu Mono.

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