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BLOOD / SHORT TAILED PYTHONS

red blood


Reptile Rapture

6308 Monona dr., Monona, WI 53716
608-221-0094, www.reptilerapture.net

BLOOD PYTHON / SHORT TAILED PYTHON Caresheet

Common Name: Blood python, short tailed python, Borneo short tailed python
Scientific Name: Python Brongersmai, curtus, breitensteini
Origin: southwest Thailand, Malaysia, eastern Sumatra, Island of Borneo
Size: 4-5 feet
Lifespan: 30+ years

You will find many ways on the internet, on "how to" take care of this animal. This care sheet is showing the way we found works best for us from our many years of experience of breeding and caring for this species.

HOUSING

Young blood pythons can be shy and are not fond of large open spaces. You can start babies in enclosures as small as 10 gallons. At around 6 months, increase the size. There are several kinds of enclosures that work for blood pythons, e.g., glass aquariums and any of the commercially available plastic-type reptile cages. At 6 months, step up to an enclosure that is at least 30" x 12" inches (like Zilla critter cage 20 Long) or go to the adult enclosure size. Adults up to 4 feet do well in a tank at least 36" x 18" (Exo Terra Large, or Zilla 40 gal). If your blood is bigger than 4 feet, you will want an enclosure that is wider or longer than the 36", like a 4' x 2' tank Zoo Med low boy for example. A 4 foot thick blood python needs more space than a 4 foot thinner species, like a corn snake.

If you use a glass tank, provide a humid hide--that is, a hide that has some damp moss in it for extra humidity. A shy blood python will feel more secure if there is a hide for it on the cool and the warm sides of the enclosure. An adult may only need a hide on the warm side. They are also ambush predators. This means that they like to hide and then leap out and grab their prey. Consequently, babies usually appreciate a little extra depth in the substrate so they can hide in it if they choose.

You can use many types of bedding for your blood python. The ones that look the best and help hold humidity are Zilla jungle mix and Zoo Med eco earth. Spot clean the bedding whenever they defecate. You should only need to clean the whole thing out about once a month. Disinfect the enclosure and change the bedding at that time. Zoo Meds wipe out or vinegar and water both work good for cage cleaning.


LIGHTING AND HEAT
Like all reptiles, bloods are dependent on external thermoregulation to control their body temperature. This essentially means you need to provide a hot and a cool side. All the heat elements should be on one side and the other will then be the cool side. This way your blood python can move back and forth between the different temperatures depending on its needs.

The hot side should be at 82-86 degrees. Put one hide there and another hide on the cool side. The cool side can be between 76-78 degrees. At night it can drop down to 76 ambient temperature. It's a good idea to use a overhead light and an under tank heat pad also. The heat pads are usually placed on the hot side with a hide over it. We recommend a Zoo Med heat mat or Exo Terra heat pad that stays on 24/7 to give them a little bit of supplemental heat during the night. Both of these are placed on the outside, underneath the enclosure. You want a heat pad that only covers half the tank (or less). The basking light should be housed in a good quality light dome like Exo Terra and Flukers that has a ceramic housing to tolerate high heat and an on/off switch.

Use a good quality temperature gauge too, like Zoo Meds digital temp gauge or Exo Terras Thermometer. Don't guess at it. You can also use a rheostat and/or timers to control your heat source. We do not recommend the use of hot rocks. They have a tendency to heat unevenly over too small an area and can cause serious burns.


HUMIDITY
Keep a non-porous water bowl in with your blood python and make sure they always have clean water. Exo Terras water bowls or Flukers water bowls are good decorative choices or a good ceramic crock dish. Scrub the bowl at least once a week to keep bacteria slime from building up. If you maintain a humidity level of 60-70%, your blood python will be able to shed properly. Hand misters are usually sufficient but if you don't care to remember to mist, an automatic mister like the Exo Terra monsoon or the reptile fogger are nice options. These snakes also love to soak, so giving them a very large water bowl can be beneficial. Zoo Med large corner bowl or Magnaturals giant 5 gallon water bowl are both nice big bowls.


FEEDING
Do not handle your pet for several hours before you are going to feed it. We do recommend feeding your snake in it's own enclosure. Blood pythons are ambush feeders and most do not like to be disturbed before eating. A few bloods won't mind being moved before they eat, but many will not eat if moved. If you are worried about your snake thinking you are going to feed it every time you go to get it out, get yourself a good snake hook. Hook the animal out of its enclosure when you want to hold it. Check out these hooks: collapsible hook for babies and larger hooks for adults. Using a snake hook when you take your blood python out will greatly reduce the chance of you being bit from a feeding response. If you don't have a hook and are still worried about picking up your snake, don't come at it from the front. Reach around and pick your snake up from behind. That way your hand is not coming at its face.

Hatchlings to 2 years
1 rodent of appropriate size once a week. This means the girth of the rodent should not exceed the girth of the snake (at it's biggest point, not his neck size) Some people say you can give them rodents 1 1/2 times as big as the girth of the snake. However, we have found that not to be necessary. A blood's body should not be totally round, if they are, they're too fat. They should have a bit of a peak to their backs. Do not handle your snake for at least 24 hours after it has eaten.

Adults
You can cut back to 1 rodent every 2 weeks if you want. If you do this make sure it is a decent size meal, don't skimp.
Option 2: you can continue on the once a week regime with a slightly smaller meal than if you are feeding every two weeks.

Snakes in general tend not to eat when they are in shed. Just wait to feed until your blood sheds.

Baby bloods usually will eat through the winter as long as they are warm enough. However, adults may skip some meals in winter. If you are prepared for the possibility of your blood python skipping some meals in winter, it won't be as stressful for you. Just keep an eye on the snake's overall condition and body weight. Typically, with a healthy blood python, this is nothing to worry about, though it can be a little frustrating. If your snake is healthy and your husbandry and temperatures and good, then just only offer it food every two weeks or so until it starts eating again.


TEMPERAMENT

The blood tends to have a bad reputation as having a tendency to bite. A lot of that reputation came from the early wild caught snakes. With all the captive breeding that is going on, bloods are much more adapted to live with us. Babies may still be defensive until they get to know that you are not going to hurt them. Most bloods will calm down and can be great snakes for handling. If you have a baby that is nervous, a short gentle daily handling session should calm it down. Just be patient. If you are nervous, use some gloves to help you feel calmer.

When holding your pet, always remember to support your snakes body. Once a blood python realizes that you will not hurt it, they settle down and relax when being handled. Just relax and give your blood python time to get used to you. Avoid touching the top of your new bloods head. Unless it knows and trusts you, touching the top of the head will cause it to jerk back away. The fast movement is called being "head shy" and tends to scare a lot of new snake owners. Most bloods will get over it with gentle handling.

Give your blood python at least a few days to settle in to his new home before handling. Start slow and gradually increase the amount of time you have your snake out. Remember your new pet's life is in your hands. So please take care of it properly.