Snake pets are becoming increasingly common. In fact, more than 4% of pet owners in the US keep reptiles at home. One particular snake species, the blood python, preferred by many people for obvious reasons. Their variant colors, size, and impressive lifespan are the main reasons why many people love these snakes. But what is the lifespan of a blood python?
It is not uncommon for a blood python to live up to 25 years in captivity. However, these snakes can live for a maximum of 20 years in the wild due to competition for resources and dangers from predators and competitors. Gender and diet also play major roles in how long a blood python can live.
Blood pythons are a great choice as a pet for the right owner. They are very beautiful snakes and are a great size for many people. That said, they do require more experience than some other species due to their temperament and care requirements.
Though they might not live as long as a red-tailed boa, they do require a large time commitment. The fact that they can live for a quarter of a century makes them appealing pets for snake lovers. But you will want to make sure the blood python is the right choice for you before committing this long-lived snake.
This article will look at the overall picture of the blood python and whether one may make a good pet for you.
How Long Do Blood Pythons Live?
Blood pythons are among the python species that are known for their lengthy lifespans. However, how long they live will depend on the following;
- Captivity: Blood pythons are known to live longer in captivity as opposed to the wild. The longest a blood python has lived in captivity is 26 years.
- Resource availability: In the wild, such snakes are forced to compete for resources such as rights to mate, food, and territory, which have a direct relation to how long they live.
- Predators/ competitors: Nature has a way of restoring balance. While blood python may lack natural predators, they face danger from their competitors and larger snake species.
- Sex of the snake: Female blood pythons are known to live longer than male blood pythons. The reason behind this is yet to be established.
- Diet of the snake: Blood pythons feed on small animals such as rats and mice, and medium animals such as rabbits and chickens.
What Is The Lifespan Of Male vs. Female Blood Python?
Female blood pythons are bigger and heavier than male blood pythons. They also have a longer lifespan with the female blood python expected to live for up to 25 years, while males have a life expectancy of 20 years.
Female blood pythons can fight off some predators compared to male pythons due to the advantage of their weight and increased body length.
How Long Do Blood Pythons Take to Reach Adulthood?
The journey to adulthood is often different among the python species. It generally takes the blood python 2 to 4 years to reach adulthood.
The luxuries, easy meals, and safety from threats from competitors help these snakes to reach maturity at this age. However, blood pythons are forced to fend for themselves in the wild, fight off competitors, and try to survive on their own, which makes only a handful of them reach adulthood.
Common Health Problems That Can Affect A Blood Pythons Lifespan
Like other pet snakes, blood pythons also face the risk of experiencing health problems. Factors such as the environment, dietary needs, stress conditions, and the status of their environments greatly affect their overall health.
While some of these conditions can be managed with home remedies, others will require special medical attention and might become fatal to the snakes if left untreated. They include:
- Respiratory problems
- Inclusion body disease
- Parasites; both internal and external
- Infectious stomatitis
Respiratory conditions in snakes are caused by fungi, bacteria, or virus infection. The condition can also be caused by parasites such as Rhabdias that affect the respiratory system of the snake. A blood python with this condition will exhibit the following symptoms;
- Mucus in their mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Nasal discharge
In most cases, the respiratory problem would go away on its own, and the snake would be back to full health. However, if the condition persists, you might need to discuss treatment such as antibiotics or decongestants with your vet.
Inclusion Body Disease
This transmissible, progressive, and ultimately fatal condition is common with every python species. It’s known to target and weaken the python’s immune system, rendering it vulnerable to secondary infections.
Vital organs such as the heart, lungs, stomach, brain, and liver become the next target as this condition progresses. Lymphoma is also very common with snakes that experience this problem. The following symptoms are common in blood pythons with inclusion body disease;
- Muscle spasm
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen mouth
- Pupils of uneven size
- Head tremor
There is no vaccine or treatment for inclusion body disease. However, proper care such as dietary changes and antibiotics can help to keep the snake comfortable longer. If there is more than one snake in a cage and one of them starts to show signs of inclusion body disease, it would be best to separate it from the rest.
(Source: Inclusion body disease)
Parasites – Internal and External
Blood pythons may have issues with both internal and external parasites. Internal parasites include coccidian and worms. These parasites are known to affect the feeding behavior of the blood python and their moods.
External parasites include mites and ticks and are usually spread when there is an infected snake around. The hygiene of their environments also contributes greatly to their presence.
The following are the symptoms of parasites in snakes:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss in body weight
- Dull skin
The condition can be managed by deworming the snake. Blood and feces samples can show whether the snake has the parasites.
(Source: Common diseases in pet snakes)
Infectious stomatitis is very common in reptiles and is known as mouth rot. It’s caused by the accumulation of the bacteria that forms in the mouth. If left untreated, mouth rot can cause digestive tract and lung problems.
The condition is infectious. If you have more than one snake, it’s best to keep them separated if you suspect any signs. Such symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Nose and mouth drainage
- Reddened oral tissues
- Dead tissues in the mouth
The condition can be treated with oral antiseptic, antibiotics, and if the case becomes severe, surgery can be arranged to remove the dead tissues in the mouth.
How Diet Can Affect Blood Python Lifespan
Blood pythons are nonvenomous snakes, and they feed by constricting their prey to death. Since blood pythons are not as big as other python species, they tend to prefer smaller prey such as rodents and birds.
Blood pythons are ferocious feeders and pack a huge appetite.
Feeding them one rat a week is enough to keep them healthy. You might also want to adjust the feeding frequency as your blood python ages. Obesity is one of the most common things that can affect the lifespan of a blood python. So make sure not to overfeed your python.
However, avoid feeding them live prey as live prey like rats can scratch them, causing significant damage to their vulnerable parts like eyes. Always keep a bowl of fresh water with them as they are known to drink lots of water – and even soak themselves in their water bowl.
How Humidity Can Affect Blood Python Lifespan
One of the most common reasons blood pythons can experience a shortened lifespan is from improper humidity levels. Getting the correct humidity for a blood python is one of the biggest challenges when caring for them. Ideal humidity should range from about 60-70%.
You will need the proper enclosure and equipment in order to properly care for your python. Glass enclosures are not going to be the best option for proper humidity. Instead, you will likely want to use something such as plastic. In addition, you will want to mist your enclosure or get the proper misting system.
While you do want the proper humidity levels you also want to make sure that your cage does not get too wet. Too much wetness will open up the opportunity for fungus and bacteria to grow. This can be quite hard to get just right.
Like I said, getting the humidity levels right is going to be your biggest challenge. You might want to make a humidity hide to put into your enclosure. This way your python can go inside the hide when it needs a more humid environment.
Last but not least, make sure you pick a good substrate that holds humidity well and absorbs moisture. Something like Reptichip Premium Coconut Reptile Substrate would be an option.
Handling Your Blood Python?
Unlike some other species of pythons, blood pythons are known for their defensive and irritable behavior.
The snake poses a challenge to beginners as they’re easily stressed and can strike without warning.
Baby blood pythons happen to be very sensitive to everything and will often coil in a defensive pose. That’s why they prefer small spaces where they feel secure.
Wearing thick gloves to avoid getting bitten and observing the moods of the snake should be your top priority.
Handling the blood python requires taking precautions and approaching the snake from an angle where it doesn’t feel threatened. The sooner and more often you handle your blood python the more easier they will be to handle as they get older and larger.
Unlike many other pythons and boas that enjoy climbing, blood pythons are ground dwellers. This means that they do not naturally hold on to you as easily as other snakes such as red-tailed boas. So make sure that you do a good job of staying under them while also not squeezing them too hard in the process.
Here is a good video by Clints Reptiles where he gives tips on reading snakes and avoiding snake bites. At around the four minute mark he uses a blood python as an example.
Do Blood Pythons Make Good Pets?
Blood pythons are a bit aggressive for first-time owners and may pose a challenge when keeping them. They’re easily agitated and can strike any time. Experienced snake handlers are required to handle these snakes as they understand them better.
Before deciding to keep this pet, you should learn about their behavior and observe their moods regularly. You should also monitor their stress levels and try to keep them in a comfortable environment.
Are There Better Options for First-Time Snake Owners?
First-time snake owners may experience a hard time dealing with blood pythons due to their aggressive nature. However, that doesn’t mean there are no better options. Ball python and Rosy Boa are ideal for first-time owners.
- Ball pythons are less aggressive and can thrive in less desirable conditions compared to blood pythons. They also require little effort to maintain.
- Rosy boas are very easy to get along with and are always avoiding getting into conflict with anything. They are docile and have a manageable size.
Blood pythons are great pets to have around. They are beautiful snakes that can live very long lives. However, the lifespan of a blood python can be affected by how well you care for them.
They are not the easiest snake to take care of but they are amazing creatures. With proper precaution, keeping blood pythons as pets can be manageable. For more on blood pythons, check out my complete blood python care guide here!