Adding a snake to your home can be a fun and rewarding experience. The blood python is a breed that has become more popular in recent years and many are becoming more interested in these snakes as pets. However, it is important to understand how to care for a blood python and make sure it is the right pet for you before making a purchase.
Blood pythons care can be more challenging than it is with many other pythons breeds, making them difficult for first-time snake owners. Blood pythons, like many snakes, simply require a quality enclosure, food, water, and some basic care. However, it is important for owners to keep in mind this is a long-term commitment and snakes can be aggressive than many other popular snake breeds.
Of course, for many, the blood python is the ultimate pet snake. They are certainly one of the most beautiful breeds in the world and with the right care can be good pets. I would simply advise that the blood python is not my top pick for someone new to owning reptiles.
If you have ever considered purchasing a blood python and would like to learn more about the care of these snakes, we have created the full guide to caring for these pets. From appearance and temperament to enclosure needs, keep reading to learn more about caring for these snakes.
Blood Python Size and Appearance
If you are interested in purchasing or adopting a pet snake, a blood python may have been a breed you have come across. Though not as popular as ball pythons or boas, the breed has grown in popularity in recent years. As with anything you bring into your home, you want to do some deeper research into the breed.
The first place to start when looking into purchasing a blood python is to learn more about the breed itself. A blood python is usually between four and six feet in length and can weigh up to 50 pounds. So even though they do not get as long as many other breeds, they do get very heavy. They are as thick and big around as many pythons that are twice their length.
There is a significant difference in size based on the sex of the snake. For example:
- Female Blood Pythons – Between four and six feet. Weighing in at up to 50 pounds. Generally, much larger than the male.
- Male Blood Pythons – Between three and five feet. A bit smaller in weight and overall size than the female.
This is just a general idea of the size of the blood python, but there have been reports of these snakes getting up to eight feet in length. However, most captive snakes will not get larger than six feet.
Growth Rate of the Blood Python
This brings into question; how fast will your blood python grow? On average, the growth is fairly slow, and the snake will not reach full size until they are two to three years old. This can be a bit lengthier of a process for those pythons that are in the wild.
The main discrepancy between wild snake growth rates and captive snake growth rates comes from their diet. Wild snakes have a less regulated and sufficient diet, which slows growth a bit. However, captive snakes are almost certain to reach full size by three years of age.
Blood Python Coloring
The coloring on a blood python will change fairly drastically over time and how they look upon hatching is very different than in adulthood. Upon hatching, the baby snakes will be a ruddy brown or tan color. They will go through a blood-red color phase, which is where they get the name, which will gradually go away as they enter adulthood.
Some easy ways to distinguish blood pythons from other snakes by their appearance are:
- They have a longer and broad head, often wider than the neck.
- The head coloration of these snakes will range from a charcoal gray to a black shade.
- They have a red stripe that runs down the scales. This red is around the nostrils to the neck area.
- The body of these snakes is quite large but comes to a relatively short tail with a sharp ending.
- They can range in color from dark brown to even light yellow.
- The pattern of blood pythons is made of yellow and tan blotches and stripes. These patterns run the length of the snake’s body.
- They often have tan and black spots. The stomach is white and may have these black spots as well.
Most who are familiar with snakes can tell the blood python apart from other breeds. Once you get to know this breed, they are easy to spot.
Blood Python Lifespan
An important aspect of blood python care is understanding how long your pet might live. When adding a snake to your home, it is important to know that you will be taking on a pet for years to come. While most furry friends live between 15 and 20 years, these scaley friends can live much, much longer! In fact, most blood pythons can live up to 25 years in captivity.
While some breeds can live a bit longer, the blood python is a long-term pet, and this lifespan is something to keep in mind. This makes it even more important to deeply consider the snake breed and ensure that the blood python is the right choice for your needs. Some additional things to keep in mind about thier lifespan are:
- Males have a slightly lower life span of 20 years and females live around 25 years.
- These snakes do face some health concerns that can lower their lifespan. However, most captive snakes will live a very long life.
- Wild blood pythons have a similar, but slightly shorter, life expectancy. This is simply due to the lowered food opportunities and the chance of predators.
It is critical that you are ready to take on a pet that will be a big part of your life for a very long time. If you are not certain about wanting a snake, it is best to avoid purchasing one.
Blood Python Temperament
If you have never owned a snake, the blood python may not be the best choice for your first snake. They are a bit finicky and often do not have the best temperament. They can be difficult to care for and may attack even when unprovoked.
While this can quickly put you against the breed, they can often be cared for more easily by someone who understands snakes and is familiar with them. Many blood pythons who have been cared for in captivity since hatching are docile and less defensive.
Where Does this Temperament Come From?
Blood pythons are not as widely captive-bred as other breeds. This means that many of the blood pythons on the market today are wild-caught, making them much more aggressive. Snakes that were hatched in the wild are naturally scared of humans and are more aggressive.
Much of your snake’s temperament will come with where you get them from. If you purchase a snake from a reputable location that has cared for it properly, there may be less aggression. Always look for captive bred reptiles over wild caught.
Will a Blood Python Bite?
This is a bit of a tricky question, as all snakes will bite if needed and it is one of their natural defenses. However, some snakes are more likely to bite than others and blood pythons tend to fall into this category. Most often this trigger to bite comes from a desire for food and hunger can cause it.
Some basic things to keep in mind about snakes, blood pythons specifically, and biting are:
- Snakes will bite in self-defense. If they feel scared, nervous, alarmed, or a variety of other emotions, they will bite. This is simply a way to protect themselves.
- If a python is biting a food source, it will bite and firmly hold the prey. Most bites for self-defense purposes are bite and release.
- In many cases, your blood python will hiss or do other warning signs before biting. They may bump you with their nose by striking with their mouth closed. This is a warning, and a bite may follow.
- If you have a particularly aggressive blood python, it may bite and not let go. This can be very alarming and painful. Unfortunately, it may be unknown if your pet is aggressive until these actions take place.
While avoiding bites may not be possible, it is important to read the mood of your snake and listen to its signs of distress. Do not push your snake to the point of biting, but give them time to become more comfortable.
Are Blood Python Bites Venomous?
One important thing to keep in mind about blood pythons is that they are not venomous. This means that even if you are bitten by your snake, you will not be at risk of dying due to venom. Like most pythons, they constrict prey to kill it by squeezing.
Blood pythons cannot produce venom and do not have venom glands. Their teeth are short and designed to grip prey. While this means no venom, it does mean that the bite can be quite painful, and the snake can truly hold on and do damage if wanted. So blood pythons like all pythons are non-venomous.
What do These Bites Feel Like?
Unfortunately, blood pythons have a very aggressive bite, and it can be very painful. These snakes have very sharp and pointy teeth, which will grip the skin upon biting. You will receive several small puncture wounds from these teeth, and they can be more painful than many other breeds. Personally, I have only been bitten by a baby blood python myself but I’m sure a full-grown adult would feel a bit different.
The real issue is that these snakes can often hold onto those they are biting, causing immense damage. They move quickly despite having a larger size than some other breeds. Overall, this is a very painful bite and requires you to be very diligent when caring for your snake.
Handling Your Blood Python
Learning how to handle your blood python is an essential aspect of caring for these beautiful snakes. You should never handle your blood python if it seems agitated or scared. Snakes will often let you know when they do not want to be touched and you should listen to these signs. If you do not listen to the snake’s warning signs, it can lead to a bite.
It is important that you work with your blood python to get it used to you and your care. Start with short handling sessions and give your snake ample opportunity to get used to you. With patience and work, even aggressive snakes can become used to people.
Some things to keep in mind when handling your snake are:
- You should always wash and sanitize your hands before touching any reptiles. They have sensitive skin that can be harmed by human germs.
- Hook training is a great way to get your blood python used to be handled. This will help your snake associate when it is being handled versus fed.
- Never touch food before touching your snake. It can throw off your snake’s sense of smell and lead to bites.
- If you have an adult blood python, ensure you can hold it properly. They can be heavy, and lack of support can lead to fear.
- Most blood pythons do not enjoy being touched on the head, which can lead to aggression.
Even regularly held blood pythons can be aggressive if not handled properly. It is important to offer your snake plenty of opportunities to bond with you, but never push them too far with each handling session.
Blood Python Diet
A proper diet is an essential aspect of blood python care. Your blood python’s diet is very important as this is what leads to a long and healthy life. You will want to schedule your feedings to ensure that your snake is being adequately fed. Creating a good feeding schedule will keep your snake happy and help avoid obesity, which is an issue with this hungry breed.
One of the biggest deciding factors on your blood python’s diet is the age of the snake. Clearly, a newly hatched snake will need much less than a fifty-pound adult but they will need to be fed more often. A basic feeding schedule for a blood python will follow:
- Hatchlings to Two Years Old – Feed the snake one rodent a week. You can start with feeder mice and work up to larger mice.
- Adult Blood Pythons – Feed one good-sized rat to the snake every 10-14 days on average. Some might even need to be fed less often if they are gaining too much weight.
It is important to monitor your mouse and ensure that it is thriving with your current feeding schedule. If you are seeing lethargic or overly aggressive behavior, you may want to change the feeding schedule slightly. Also, it is important to never pet the snake around feeding times!
When feeding your blood python, frozen prey is best. You should allow this prey to warm to around room temperature and it should be completely thawed before feeding. Do not microwave the frozen mice or rats, simply allow it to thaw at room temperature.
Use tons to feed the snake by holding the prey in front of it. Jiggling the mouse or rat slightly in front of the snake can make it more alluring. Some snakes struggle with this but over time they will become used to the frozen prey.
Many owners question why they should feed frozen prey when live prey is available, but this is mainly due to the safety of the snake. Three main reasons to feed frozen are:
- A live rodent can harm, injure, or even kill a snake. This is even more likely with rats, which can scratch or bite your snake.
- Live prey is easy to care for, can be messy, and overall is a big task to take on. When buying frozen, you simply place these in your freezer until needed rather than having to care for the food.
- Live prey is also more likely to introduce disease to your snake. This can lead to unwanted illness.
Overall, you will want to safely feed your snake frozen rats or mice using tongs.
Water is just as important as diet when caring for blood pythons. They require plenty of fresh, clean water daily. It is best to provide a small plastic bin or bowl of water to the snake, cleaning out and refreshing it regularly.
When a blood python is nearing time to shed, they will often soak in their water. If you find your snake soaking, do not be alarmed but rather leave them be as they are likely to shed soon. It is very important to clean the water often and use non-chlorinated water.
Vitamins and Supplements
If a blood python is provided regular food and water, additional supplements are often not needed. While there are snake supplements available on the market today, they should not be used unless needed. However, if you see an issue with your snake, it may be best to consult a vet to discuss which vitamins or supplements may help.
Blood pythons that have issues with feeding might benefit from vitamins to help with nutritional deficiencies. On average, most blood pythons do not need any additional supplementation.
Blood Python Enclosure Requirements
One of the most important parts of caring for a blood python is creating an enclosure that your python will thrive in. This enclosure may change over time as your snake grows and should serve as a safe place at all stages. Some basics to creating an enclosure for your snake are:
- Hatchling Blood Pythons – These snakes are usually under 10 inches and need much less space. You can use a basic plastic tub for this size snake, but it should have plenty of ventilation. Always provide basic hides and quality substrate.
- Juvenile Blood Pythons – This is the snake at a few months old and it will require a larger reptile tub. It is best to have a tub of at least 180 square inches. You will also want to add more substrate and monitor humidity more at this stage.
- Adult Blood Pythons – As your snake grows, it is time to create its forever home which should be a large enclosure. At this stage, you will want to monitor temperature fully. This is a good time to finalize your substrate, decorations, and any additional features of the enclosure.
If your snake ever appears uncomfortable, overly agitated, or anxious, you may want to make changes to the enclosure. Providing plenty of hiding opportunities and quality materials in the cage is key to a happy snake.
Types of Enclosures
There are several types of enclosures available for snakes and it is important you do some comparisons before deciding on your blood python’s home. One thing to keep in mind is that different materials will affect the humidity, temperature, and comfortability of your snake. Some of the enclosure options that you can choose from are:
- Glass – These aquarium-style tanks look great in most homes but can be very expensive and heavy. They do not hold onto humidity as well as many other enclosures, which can be challenging with blood pythons. Glass may not be a great option in a home with smaller children that could hit the tank.
- Plastic – This is one of the more affordable options and actually works great for blood pythons. The plastic is easy to clean and holds onto humidity, which is great when snakes are shedding. The main issue is that they can be a bit hard to modify to fit your snake’s needs.
- Wood – Wooden enclosures are a great middle-ground when it comes to costs and is less likely to break than glass options. Wooden enclosures can be a bit harder to clean and can be damaged with water. Adding décor and customizing wooden enclosures is simple.
Blood pythons can be raised well in almost any type of enclosure. Most opt for a plastic option when it comes to caring for these snakes.
Best Substrate For Blood Pythons
The substrate is used at the bottom of the enclosure and essentially what your snake lives in and on. No matter which enclosure you choose, it is important that you provide your snake a quality substrate. This should be something that is easily cleaned and fits the safety needs of the snake.
Before we jump into the best substrate for blood pythons, it is critical to note that cedar substrate should never be used. This is deadly to reptiles and can be extremely harmful to pythons.
Blood pythons need a higher level of humidity and the substrate used is very important to create a good humidity level. The water sprayed into the enclosure, ventilation amount, and substrate work together to create humidity. Quality substrates that work well with blood pythons are:
- Aspen Shavings
- Cypress Mulch
- Orchid Bark
It is important to do regular spot cleaning of the substrate and remove any messes. Once a month, you will want to replace the substrate entirely and clean out the enclosure. This helps lower bacteria levels and avoid illness.
The decorations used in a blood python encounter can be as detailed or as simple as the owner may like. There are a few things that are necessary for most enclosures for a safe and happy snake, but this can be altered depending on the snake’s needs. Some basics to decorating a blood python enclosure are:
- Lighting – These snakes do not need any major lighting but should have a photoperiod of 10 to 12 hours a day. This can be done using a simple fluorescent light on a timer.
- Hides – These are created to help the blood python feel safe and hidden away. The hides can be created using deeper substrate in some areas, cork bark flats, or boxes. Any hides added should be easy to access and clean, as well as, securely placed in the tank.
- Enrichment Décor – Additional logs, sticks, nontoxic plants, and other natural decorations can be added to the enclosure. This is not only aesthetically pleasing, but it can also create a safe place for your snake. Adding some enrichment opportunities will help reduce stress for the snake. Just make sure you purchase these from a pet store and never try to find sticks or plants from outside. This is because they might be infected with mites or other things that can harm your snake.
Overall, you want the enclosure decorations to be practical and useful to the blood python. Above all, safety should be paramount and come first when creating an enclosure.
Blood PythonTemperature and Humidity Requirements
Proper temperature and humidity is a very important and somewhat challenging aspect of blood python care. A very important part of the enclosure for a blood python is the humidity of the tank and the overall temperature. Blood pythons require a higher humidity level of 60 to 70 percent, which is higher than many other snakes. This humidity can be hard to achieve but should be maintained as much as possible for the snake’s safety.
Easy ways to monitor and maintain this higher humidity level are:
- Regularly mist the enclosure if the humidity levels have dropped.
- If the enclosure does have a mesh lid, cover part of the mesh to help retain moisture.
- Maintaining a water bowl in the tank can help increase overall humidity.
- Changing the substrate can help increase the overall humidity levels.
- Use a hydrometer to regularly check the humidity levels.
As for the temperature in the enclosure, this should be varied, and blood pythons need gradient zones. Essentially, this means that the enclosure should have one warmer side and one cooler side. The warm side needs to be 86 to 88 degrees, the cooler side should be 80 to 84 degrees.
Most blood python owners will use a heating pad under the enclosure to provide the proper heat. Heating lamps above the tank angled in can also be used to create a warmer side. You should always check the temperature with a thermometer to ensure it is in the correct range.
Become a Quality Snake Owner
By following these simple steps and doing your own research, you will easily be able to care for your blood python. It is important to remember that this is a long-term commitment and providing quality care will be a major responsibility. However, with some time, snakes can be a great pet to care for and become an essential part of your home.