The blood python has a bad reputation.
But it is mostly undeserved.
They are not as aggressive and ill-tempered as some would have you believe.
That said, they are also not the easiest snakes to care for.
Part of that is their temperament and part of that is their size. They are a bit larger, especially in terms of girth.
Despite the size, they don’t eat that much, so you won’t be spending more on food.
But they do need a larger enclosure and also a higher temperature and humidity than many other snakes.
Overall, while they are not as beginner-friendly as some snakes, they are not exactly trouble either.
If you treat your blood python well, it will be happy and healthy ad treat you well in return. Let’s learn more about this wonderful snake and how to care for it.
Table of Contents
- 1 Blood Python Information
- 2 Blood Python Care
- 3 Blood Python Compared To Ball Python
- 4 Caring For A Blood Python: Final Thoughts
Blood Python Information
Blood pythons are becoming more and more popular as pet snakes. They are not difficult to keep and they don’t require any special enclosure or other equipment.
Blood pythons have no venom and they spend much of their time in the water. They are often spotted at the edges of moderately fast-moving waterways. They are generally more lively during the night.
Blood pythons are insatiable eaters at any age. They usually feed on rodents. They catch their prey with their teeth and then wrap their body around it and suffocate it. Once the prey is dead, they widen their jaws and swallow it whole.
What owners especially love about these snakes is that they seem large but are actually not. They have heavy, wide bodies, but they do not get very long.
Another cool thing about this species is the distinct coloring: no two blood pythons are exactly the same. They come in a range of colors from dark brown to yellow to red.
When they are young, they may experience a steady, yet noteworthy, color alteration. They can begin as hatchlings with a darker rosy or brown color and, over the course of years, build up to a splendid blood red.
Blood pythons are found in Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand where they live principally in marshy swamps, but they are also found in rain forest habitats.
They are often found in areas populated by humans, particularly palm oil ranches, where they feed on rodents. Their ability to flourish in human-adapted zones is leading to an expansion in the overall populace of the species.
Blood Python Color Diversity
There is a large variety of colors for this particular species. The head of a blood python can be a charcoal black, average gray, pale brown or a reddish color. The blood python actually has the power to change the shading of its color.
The eyes can be a little pale at the top and shaded to dark at the base. The shady patterns covering the majority of their body run from rich yellow to medium dark to orange-red to very deep red and occasionally, to an extremely dull gray.
In most blood pythons, the shady pattern components are some shade of red that overflows out the disconnected dark edges. The pale pattern components on the back are normally yellowish and the pale pattern on the sides is generally a pale shady color with little dark dots.
There are a few kinds of wild albino blood pythons. Several of those have been bred to make more albino varieties. The most common of these is the red albino.
Blood Python Care
Because the blood python is native to a tropical area, it needs a warm and humid environment to feel comfortable. That said, it does not have to be super hot and humid as many believe.
Generally, a daytime temperature of 80° to 84° Fahrenheit is perfect, with nighttime temperatures 2° to 3° cooler. 60% to 70% humidity is fine. Try to keep the environment inside the enclosure fairly constant.
You do want to provide a basking spot, using either a heat lamp or a heat pad. This spot should be around 88° F.
The blood python prefers a wooden container as its cage, because wood cannot conduct heat. But wood is more susceptible to rotting, especially given the higher humidity this snake needs.
Glass may not retain heat as well as wood, but it generally makes for the best enclosure type. That said, with this particular snake, wood may be better. We’d still go with glass, but make sure not to use the standard screen top. Use a solid top that keeps the heat and humidity inside better.
You should keep your blood python on a dry substrate, so as not to amplify the moisture inside the compartment. Good choices are cypress mulch, aspen shavings, or coconut husk. Regular old newspaper works just fine, too. We have a whole article on snake bedding that can help you find the best type.
What should this python eat? When your blood python is still relatively small, feed it baby mice. As it grows, increase the size of the rations you give it, until it is eating large mice or small rats.
Feed your snake once a week to keep it from getting overweight. If you give it especially large rats, feed it less frequently than that.
You should provide your snake a water bowl that is large enough for it to get completely inside, since this species loves spending time in the water. Make sure the water is always fresh, since the snake will soil it, which can lead to disease.
Blood Python Size
Blood pythons are shaped a bit differently from many snakes. They are short, but wide. Their tail is short, but their head is quite large and wide.
When fully developed, the males measure 40 to 56 inches in length on average, while females measure around 50 to 66 inches. Extremely old females can even reach 72 inches in length. They generally weight 10 to 15 pounds.
Blood Python Lifespan
The lifespan of a blood python living in the wild has not been definitively established, but scientists assume it to be around 20 years. In confinement, they live longer, with an average lifespan over 25 years. Some live as long as 28 years.
Blood Python Bite
These snakes are naturally without venom. They are delicate and don’t ordinarily bite their keepers, unless they are pushed to do so. They can bite if they are made to feel anxious or if they are starving.
When hungry, they blood python may lash out to grab a rat you offer it and unintentionally bite your hand. That’s why you should offer the food using tongs. They may also be bad-tempered and more inclined to bite, when they are feeling sick.
The first thing you should do if your snake bites you is to clean the injury thoroughly with hot water and antibacterial soap. Even though the blood python is not venomous, its saliva contains various bacteria, so it is important to wash out the wound.
Cover it with a band-aid. Keep your eye on the wound for a few days, to make sure it does not become infected. If you see signs of an infection, seek medical help.
Guidelines To Avoid Being Bitten
Follow these guidelines to make sure your snake doesn’t bite you:
- Make sure your blood python is always well nourished
- Never offer food using your hand; use tongues or a plate
- Be gentle when touching it and do not surprise it
- Do not touch your snake when it is shedding
If you do get bitten, once you have treated your injuries, make sure your snake is securely inside its enclosure and try to assess the reason it attacked you.
If you think it is hungry, try offering it some food. Remember, do not use your hand. Held the prey using tongs or present it on a plate. You could also simply place the rat (or mouse) in the enclosure, away from the snake, and leave it there until the snake comes and gets it.
If you snake is shedding, or getting ready to shed, you can help it by ensuring it has plenty of fresh water to soak in. If you notice any behavior that is out of the ordinary, this might be an indication that your snake is sick. Have it checked out by a vet if this is the case.
Blood Python Respiratory Infections
A common ailment your snake is bound to suffer at some point is a respiratory infection. They often get pneumonia when they are anxious for whatever reasons.
Common causes of stress are not having enough clean water, not having a comfortable environment, being handled too much, not having a place to hide, or some other ailment, like parasites. The most common reason for respiratory diseases in blood pythons is an environment that is too cold.
You can tell your pet is suffering from a respiratory diseases when it struggles to breathe. Its breath will sound raspy and you bight see saliva bubbling from its mouth.
Breeding Blood Pythons
If you would like to breed your snake, we have good news for you. It is not that hard to do and is basically the same as breeding any other snake. Unless your female snake was trapped from the wild. In that case, she probably won’t breed.
Wild-trapped females have low reproduction rates, and they will most likely never be able to lay eggs when kept in captivity. Male blood pythons trapped in the wild can breed normally.
You will need a settling box. Once your snake has laid her eggs, you need to keep them in a warm and humid environment with a temperature of 84° F. It takes about 60 days for them to hatch.
Blood Python Compared To Ball Python
The ball python is one of the most popular snakes and is especially well suited for beginning snake owners. They are docile animals and make wonderful pets as a result. They also stay small, which is another big plus.
Full grown ball pythons reach a length of 3 to 5 feet. Like the blood python, they are hefty and have wide, solid bodies. They also live a long time, with a lifespan of 20 to 30 years.
Because the ball python is smaller, it does not require as large an enclosure. It also does not need as high a temperature or as much humidity. All of this makes caring for a ball python easy.
You can keep a ball python in a 30 gallon enclosure (though they would certainly appreciate more space), with an ambient temperature of 75° and 80° F and a basking spot of 85° F. Reduce the ambient temperature by about 5° at night.
They are called ball pythons because they curl up into a firm ball when threatened, pushing their head inside the middle of the ball to protect it. They grow quickly, with young ball pythons developing almost a foot a year until they become adults.
Learn more in our article comparing the blood python vs ball python.
Caring For A Blood Python: Final Thoughts
Blood pythons are a bit more difficult to care for than the easiest snakes for beginners, like the ball python for example. But they’re still not that difficult. They’re simply a bit pickier about their environment and perhaps a bit less docile in temperament.
The primary factor that makes them more difficult is their somewhat larger size, but they actually eat very little given their girth.
Overall, a blood python is a wonderful snake and if you decide to get one, it will give you many years of company and enjoyment!