30 Crucial Things to Know About the Blood Python
Blood pythons are gorgeous, big, and docile snakes that make for phenomenal pets. While they aren’t the most complicated pet snakes you can get they are not exactly beginner-friendly, however. This means that you should do quite a bit of research before you take on this challenge – regardless of whether this is your first snake or you have experience with other reptiles.
So, what are the 30 crucial things to know about blood pythons, and is this even the right pet for you? We’ll cover all that below.
14 things to consider before buying a blood python as a pet
- Blood pythons originally come from Thailand, Sumatra, the Malay peninsula, and other small islands in the region. This is important to know not just for curiosity’s sake but also as it explains what type of terrarium environment these snakes prefer. We’ll go over the specifics below.
Taking care of a blood python is neither too complicated nor exceedingly difficult. That is to say – there is a learning curve but it’s nothing you can’t manage with a bit of research and preparation.
As for how time-consuming it is to take care of a blood python – it really doesn’t take too much. In fact, most of the time you won’t need to do anything other than look at your snake and be happy with how well it’s doing. As with most other reptiles – the most time-consuming and crucial part is the preparation before taking the animal home.
These pythons are nocturnal. That’s because they are an “ambush predator” who likes to hunt from the cover of the night. For you, this means that your pet will be most active at night and you’ll need to feed it after sunset too.
Do these snakes make a lot of noise? Snakes aren’t the loudest pets but blood pythons are relatively noisy for snakes. This, combined with the fact that they are nocturnal, means that you probably shouldn’t put your python’s terrarium in your bedroom. Not unless you’re “nocturnal” as well.
This is a pretty hardy and healthy snake. With the right care, food, as well as temperature and humidity conditions, a blood python will easily live a long and problem-free life. I will go over all these points separately below, of course.
Blood pythons come in dozens of different gorgeous morphs. Usually, they come in a combination of blood-red, brown, and white but they can range from fully albino white to a dark brown marble pattern. You can check quite a lot of their different morphs here.
Big but not too big – the blood python is the perfect size for many snake owners who want a large snake but also a snake they can pick up and handle. Blood pythons range between 4 and 6 feet (120 to 180 cm) with the females being larger than the males. Weight-wise these snakes can grow up to 30 pounds (14 kg). This can make them a bit difficult to handle and lift for some people but they are not “unwieldy”.
Do these pythons tolerate being handled? Yes and no. Wild-caught blood pythons really don’t like being handled. However, I don’t recommend getting a wild-caught snake anyway – they just don’t make good pets.
How about captive-bred blood pythons? These snakes tolerate handling much more. They still don’t enjoy it as much as some other snakes but with the right approach and a proper handling technique, they can get used to it pretty easily. Here’s a good video on how to properly handle a snake.
Keep the blood python’s size in mind too – you need to be able to comfortably carry such a large snake around. It’s recommended that you always stay close to the ground when handling a blood python – this way, if you drop it, it won’t be from too high.
Are blood pythons arboreal – meaning, do they live on trees when they are in the wild. Not really, no, however, blood pythons do like to climb on rocks and branches. So, when you’re arranging your blood python’s enclosure, it’s a good idea to plan it vertically too and add some tall decorative items too. We’ll go more in-depth about the blood python’s terrarium below.
Is this gorgeous snake too expensive? No, not really. Most blood pythons you’ll find are sold for relatively modest sums in the low three digits - some as low as $150 to $250. The exact price will depend on the morph as well as on the seller. Some especially rare or gorgeous color patterns will be sold for 4-digit sums along the lines of $1,500 or $2,000.
If you want something truly special you can go for a $7,000 blood python too such as the one in this video. Of course, keep in mind that prices change over time so it depends on when you’re reading this. Still, the more affordable blood pythons usually aren’t any less pretty so you don’t need to break the bank.
These large snakes can live up to 25 years with the right care. This is quite a time commitment that you need to be ready for. At the same time, however, it’s fantastic if you want a long-term pet. As with most things, it’s all a matter of personal preferences.
Do these pythons get easily stressed? Not as much as other snakes, especially most small species. However, blood pythons can get stressed out from time to time. Common causes of stress include too much handling (even if the python is used to it, more than once a day can be too much), an uncomfortable environment, issues shedding, etc. We’ll cover how you can make your python more comfortable in its terrarium below.
Are blood pythons docile enough to make good pets? Despite their terrifying names – yes, blood pythons are actually quite sweet-tempered and peaceful.
Now, does this apply to wild-caught blood pythons? Not really. Wild-caught blood pythons do have a reputation for being aggressive. However, I do recommend that you purchase captive-bred snakes with pretty much all snakes anyway. A captive-bred snake is always less aggressive as well as more social and used to human contact and interaction. We talked about proper handling above but I can also mention hook training as something you should practice – here’s a nice video about it too.
- Is the blood python a good pet for me? You must always be 100% sure that you’re getting the right pet for your needs
and preferences, especially when it comes to reptiles and snakes. Blood pythons aren’t what I would define as
“beginner-friendly” as they are pretty big and have some specific needs.
At the same time, they are not an overly complicated snake or the most dangerous species out there either. So with enough research, preparation, and care, even a beginner can take a good care of a blood python.
If you think that’s you, you’re willing to put in the work, and you are in love with these gorgeous snakes, I'd say – go for it!
How to prepare for a blood python - the 9 things you should do first
How large should your blood python’s tank be? The absolute minimum, in our opinion, is 40 gallons. The recommended minimum dimensions are something along the lines of 48” length by 24” width by 15” height (122x61x38 cm). If possible, however, you should go for something bigger than that, especially in terms of length and width.
The best tank dimensions for a python are a length that’s 2x that of the snake’s length and a width that’s equal to the snake. Of course, that can be a bit too long for most homes but it’s important to not go below the minimum dimensions I mentioned.
As for the type of tank – glass is the best material for a terrarium as it’s durable, practical, and offers perfect visibility. It can be a mix of glass and wood as this will give the snake some extra seclusion.
It’s also recommended that the tank opens from the side and not from above as blood pythons aren’t comfortable being approached from above. And, it should go without saying that the tank needs to be secure. You don’t want a 6-foot snake wandering in your home at night.
The substrate of the tank is also important. As blood pythons are not arboreal, they will spend a lot of time on the tank’s floor. Some substrates that both look cool and feel nice for the snake include milled Cyprus mulch, shredded aspen, or chipped aspen. Make sure the dust in the substrate is kept to a minimum as you want to avoid giving your python respiratory problems.
Add some nice decoration in the terrarium. This is crucial not just for your visual pleasure but especially for the python’s mental well-being. This means making the snake’s enclosure bioactive. Add some python-friendly plants such as aloe, pothos (devil’s ivy), echeveria, or plain grass. Add some nice, smooth rocks that the python can climb on, as well as tree trunks and branches.
It’s also crucial that your python has at least a couple of nice hiding spots where it can feel safe. These need to be large and seclusive enough for the snake. You’d also do well not to pick up the snake while it’s hiding its safe spots. Here are some fresh decoration ideas.
The tank’s temperature is also crucial as this is a tropical species. The recommended temperature range for blood pythons is 80 to 82o F (26.6 to 27.8o C). You can drop that to 78o F (25.5o C) at night but going below or above those limits is ill-advised. And, since there isn’t too much of a difference between these temperatures, there isn’t a need to make a temperature gradient inside the tank.
To reach and maintain these temperatures you can use anything such as a standard white light incandescent bulb or a ceramic heater. However, remember to use a blue/red light in the evening as a white light after sunset will confuse your python’s day & night cycle. And, of course, you’ll need to put a thermometer inside the terrarium, preferably stuck to one of its inner walls.
You can also add a basking light to your python’s terrarium although not all experts insist on that. The basking light temperatures should be between 86 and 88o F (30 to 31o C). Just make sure that the basking light doesn’t increase the overall temperature in the tank above the 82o F limit.
Humidity is also key for any snake, especially one that’s evolved in a tropical climate. Blood pythons need a high relative humidity that always remains between 60 and 70%. You can use an automatic sprayer to maintain that or just a manual water spray bottle. Just add a hygrometer inside the terrarium to always have an accurate reading of the humidity in it.
Putting a humidity box/hide inside your python’s terrarium is also a great idea. This will give it both a hiding spot and a place with extra high humidity for whenever the snake needs it. And, the best part is that you can make it yourself - here’s a great video DIY guide.
Remember to add a large water bowl too. Snakes like pythons “drink” water by dunking their entire bodies in the water. So, your python’s water bowl needs to be large enough for the entire snake. Additionally, you should change the water daily as snakes often defecate in their water too. Plus, the water bowl will help keep the humidity in the terrarium up too.
Prepare your blood python’s food before you bring the snake home. These snakes typically eat small rodents and small birds which makes feeding them much easier than it sounds. Insect-eating snakes are actually more complicated to feed as preparing an insect meal is complicated. With a blood python, however, all you need is a freezer full of pre-killed and frozen mice or rats that you can then thaw and give to your snake.
And, I do emphasize that the prey should be pre-killed (the freezing part is just for your convenience). This is much better than giving your python live prey as even a small mouse can accidentally scratch your python’s face and eyes. Additionally, and even more crucially, feeding your python live prey will stimulate his hunting instinct for warm-blooded prey. And you really don’t want that as you yourself are warm-blooded.
As for a feeding schedule – young snakes should be fed once a week with a mouse that’s no bigger than the width of the python’s thickest body section (besides the head). Adult snakes should be fed on the same principle but just once every two weeks. If your python is prone to gaining weight you can feed it smaller meals or once every 17-21 days.
Another good note is to remember using tongs when giving your python their food. The reason is simple – you don’t want the snake associating your hand with food. Here’s a good video to illustrate that point.
7 tips for how to safely and successfully take care of a blood python
The most crucial part of looking after a blood python is the first week. If you’ve planned and prepared everything properly, you should have little to no trouble in the coming 25 years.
Watch out for signs of distress in your snake. Blood pythons may be alpha predators but they can easily get stressed out by an uncomfortable environment. This doesn’t just include the terrarium either – it may be that the python doesn’t like being in a particular room cause there are too many people walking around. If your snake is hyperactive during the day, has trouble shedding, doesn’t want to eat, or exhibits any other atypical behavior, it’s best to call a veterinarian or consult with an expert.
Watch out for any symptoms of respiratory distress. If your blood python is often breathing from its mouth, it has a raspy breath, or has saliva bubbling in its mouth, it almost certainly has a respiratory disease. Getting it to the vet immediately is a must.
If your python has trouble shedding its skin, do not try to remove the stuck parts manually – you’ll risk harming the snake and tearing its skin. Instead, check the humidity levels. Pythons need good humidity to help them shed their skin. If the problems persist, call your veterinarian.
Speaking of vets – find a good veterinarian near you that has experience with reptiles. You can’t just take a blood python to any general pup & puss vet ou there.
Don’t let kids handle a blood python. For one, this snake is too big and only adults can hold and handle it properly. Secondly, even though it’s non-venomous, like all pythons, the blood python has a mean bite.
Learn how to handle your snake properly yourself. Go over the videos I linked to above and practice even before getting the snake. Good handling guarantees that you’ll never get bit. Improper handling almost ensures that you’ll get bit at some point.