Blood Python, Red Blood python
(Python curtus brongersmai)
Heavily-bodied snake of medium length, huge girth compared to other snakes of the similar length. These guys have gained a bad reputation in their early years as being vicious and unpredictable, but in recent years with a increase of captive-bred animals being available have proved otherwise. They are tropical snakes, so they require a great deal of humidity and more precise temperatures and are less forgiving then other commonly-kept species and are less tolerant of cold temperatures compared to many other pythons. Not Suggested for a Beginner; this snake should be kept by those considered Intermediate or Advanced keepers and those who have the experience to understand at least a little about snake behavior and have kept snakes of similar size and temperament successfully for at least a few years.
Southeast Asia and Indonesia, found throughout most of (Western) Malaysia, lowland Sumatra east of the central dividing range of mountains.
Marshes, swamps, riverbanks, streams and commonly found in paddy fields. Usually found under water or near a river or stream. Throughout their native range they are commonly found on banana plantations, where prey is abundant. This is not an arboreal species and because of their large girth, is always found on the ground.
These snakes are nocturnal ambush predators and therefore not particularly active snakes. They wait for prey to come to them, they, unlike some other species, don’t hunt down their prey. They don’t climb and are considered ground-dwelling snakes. In captivity these snakes are very defensive when young but with age, and gentle handling with enough time and patience these snakes can become docile adults.
Neonates are born at lengths of 12” -16” or larger. Most adults average between 3.5′-6’ with females being larger then males. With older females often measuring between 7′-9′ and reaching a weight of 40-45lbs. The maximum size for this species reportedly is a length of 10′ maybe more.
Defensive and nervous when young, but with regular handling, captive-bred animals can become quite docile. Being that young blood pythons are far less forgiving of mistakes then many other species of python, they demand more precise temperature and humidity and young blood pythons can be easily stressed out which may cause them to refuse meals and have poor sheds. Its important if you wish to succeed in having a docile animal that you purchase captive-bred, wild caught animals are typically fowl-tempered and riddled with parasites and aren’t good if you have little to no experience with blood pythons.
Neonates should not be handled until they have settled in to their new environment and have eaten several times. Patience is required when working with this species and large adults must be properly supported while being held or you risk injury to the snake.
Between 20 to 25 years in captivity possibly more. Only average 5-7 in the wild.
Feeding should take place every 10-14 days, with neonates taking small adult mice or rats pups. Adults can be fed large rats or jumbo rats depending on the size of the snake. Some large specimens may take rabbits as well. It is not uncommon for adults to go with out eating in the winter months, this is a natural behavior and should not worry the keeper if it happens. Precautions must be taken during feeding to ensure that the handler is not bitten. It is a good idea to use a pair of snake tongs that aid in keeping your hands safely out of reach. It is also a good idea to have a separate enclosure to feed the snake in so that it does not associate their keeper entering their cage with food.
The cool side of the enclosure should be kept between a temperature of 78-80’F and the warm side of the enclosure being kept at 85-90’F with a basking spot of 95’F. Night time temps should be somewhere between 78-85’F never dropping lower than 76’F. Blood pythons, when not digesting food, are much more tolerant of cooler temps and an increase in ambient temperatures can help aid in getting problem-feeders to start.
(UV light is not necessary these snakes are nocturnal). It is best to use a UTH as lamps and ceramic heat emitters draw moisture out of the air lowering the humidity. If it is necessary to use a ceramic heat emitter or heat lamp, its best to use one that is low wattage in combination with the UTH to retain humidity more easily.
60%-70%, should be increased to 65%-75%. During shedding, a pan of moist sphagnum moss can help to raise the humidity during the time of shed or a simple spray bottle will work as well. The pan needs to be removed immediately afterward due to that fact it has the potential to grow mildews, fungi, algae, molds, and bacteria. This is why it’s important to keep a shedding schedule in order to increase the humidity a few days before the shed so you can bring it back to normal levels as soon as the shedding process is complete. It’s important to remember you want the enclosure to be humid, but not wet so that it doesn’t grown mold or fungi.
Newspaper is highly recommended as a substrate and it is easy to work with and obtain it also allows for easy clean up and it minimizes parasite outbreaks. Any substrate that is chosen should be able to hold moisture and help aid in maintaining the humidity. Newspaper allows for easy clean up and it minimizes parasite outbreaks. Though not visually appealing, it is by far the most easily maintained. As a drawback, it does not hold humidity well. Orchid bark chips and coconut chips will retain more humidity and be more visually appealing than newspaper, but any type of shavings will be more to clean, and give parasites places to thrive. Cypress mulch, paper towels, AstroTurf, aspen bedding and paper bags also work as substrates. Do not use sand, dirt, gravel, sawdust or cedar chips. It′s highly recommended not to saturate the substrate with water, but misting it once to a couple of times a day is acceptable. A wet substrate will mostly likely lead to skin ailments. Mist the separate hide filled with moss for humidity. If the cage is cleaned every time there is a dropping, you′ll minimize parasite infestations and keep a healthier blood python. Make a habit to change the water at least every time you change the substrate (at least once a week). Ideally, however, you should change the water every single day. If you use shavings for your substrate, it′s recommended to feed your reptile on a different surface to avoid ingestion. Additionally, feeding any snake in another location will help it distinguish between handling time and feeding time. It’s essential for this species to provide several hide boxes to allow the snake places to hide. A large water dish although not necessary to the snakes health will not only increase the humidity but allows the snake to soak which this species seems to enjoy. Both fresh water and good ventilation are necessities. Cages need to be able to retain humidity and provide enough convenience to make cleaning and other routines as least stressful as possible on both the snake and the handler. There are several companies that make affordable cages for snakes that meet the requirements including many type of pre-manufactured plastic cages available from a number of different companies, can be found over the Internet or at your local reptile show. Whatever type of material that is used to house the snake, it is highly recommended to use a material that is nonporous to help ease in cleaning.
When cleaning, use a diluted detergent like Tide or Chlorox and/or 5% household bleach. Rinse with clean water and dry thoroughly. Do not use toxic products like Lysol or Pinesol. Allow at least 30 minutes to an hour to dry and ventilate. (If you can smell something when you stick your head in the cage, wait until you can no longer smell the cleaning solutions before putting the snake back in the cage.)
Minimum Required Space
Neonates should be housed in small enclosures that measure 40 square inches provide a feeling of security, its very important to create a safe and secure environment for a young bloods because they can be very shy and sensitive, A small plastic container with wholes cut in it for ventilation will work for providing neonates with suitable cage. For a single adult animal, 8 square feet is minimal; the height of the enclosure is far less important then floor space being as blood pythons don’t climb but should be no less than 12″. It Is not recommended to house more then one blood python per enclosure except with the intent of breeding the two animals. It’s believe that a cage that doesn’t allow an adult blood python the room to stretch out completely is more likely to lead to the snake developing a upper respiratory infection.
Females get larger then males and males have small cloacal spurs. Get your snake probed by a professional to be sure. Sexual maturity is reached at 18 months to 4 years of age, breeding size occurs at lengths of 3′-5′. Breeding season is from November to March. Induce breeding by reducing the daytime photoperiod to 8-10 hours and dropping nigh time temperatures into the mid 70’s.Females typically shed 14-20+ days after ovulation; eggs are typically laid within 30 days of post-ovulation shed. Clutch size ranges from 8-20 eggs at an incubation temperature of 88-90’F. These eggs take an average of 60 days to hatch.
The body ranges in coloration from yellow, Shades of browns and tans to several shades of red, bright red, cherry red or oxblood, with tan, gold, orange & black blotched markings or stripes. Bloods are born brown with most bloods obtaining their adult coloration by 3-4 years of age. Many keepers have noted that blood pythons have the ability to change the intensity or brightness of the color on their head the reason for this is unknown.
There are many breeders in today’s reptile market that provide quality captive-bred blood pythons, neonates, juvenile, and adults. Its best to acquire your animal from a reputable breeder who deals in healthy and well-cared-for animals.