Blood Python: Facts, Lifespan, Care, Feeding, & Breeding

The blood python, also known as the Python curtus, is a good-sized snake that is often kept as a pet because of its great and active personality. Unlike some reptiles, this snake is known to have a feisty attitude that can be fun to get to know.

Blood python on a blanket
Source

Let’s learn about this interesting snake and the must-knows for caring for your blood python.

The blood python is a breed that has seen a lot of popularity in zoos and reptile care since the early 1900s, but wild-caught snakes from this breed typically come from Malaysia or Sumatra. They can also be found in Thailand, and are usually encountered in low forested hills or wet, upland habitats within these regions.

Since that time, the type of blood pythons that are kept in captivity has changed a lot due to changing markets and the effects of many pythons being raised in captivity and adjusting to it over time.

These snakes became popular for a few main reasons. They are relatively easy to maintain compared to other snakes, they’re pretty big without being an overwhelming size, and they love to feed! All of these characteristics make them a fun reptile to raise, even if they are a bit temperamental at times.

Blood Python Lifespan & Size

Lifespan

It is not clearly known how long blood pythons live in the wild, but some captive-kept or captive-bred snakes have lived for more than 20 years. In most cases, how long blood pythons live is directly proportional to how much size they are given. To keep them in the best health for their whole life, arranging proper living conditions is a must.

Size

While blood pythons certainly aren’t the largest snake that you might start to raise, their size is not something to joke around about! Blood pythons are a very heavy snake, and their girth is quite large. When you look at a blood python, you will notice that their tail is short while their head is both broad and long.

Once full-grown, males usually measure in between 40” and 56” in length while females measure at 50” to 66” in length. Very old females could even reach 72” (or more!) and weight 40-45 if they are overeating.

The point to take away here is that this is a big snake, and, accordingly, will need a big enclosure to live in.

Blood Python Facts & Characteristic

One thing that is most fascinating about the blood python is the huge amount of variation there is in both the color and pattern variations that you can find within this species.

Coloring & Variations

Most people imagine that blood pythons are the same red color for their entire lives, but this isn’t true. When hatchlings are born, they are often tan, brown, or orange. As they get older, their color will change dramatically to red around their second year.

Handling a baby blood python
Baby blood python coloration Source

Every year, this red color will get deeper and deeper. The brightest red color of a blood python is usually seen when they are between 2 and 4 years old.

While there are some constants in the pattern that you will see on the blood python’s body, there is also a lot of variation due to the ways that dominant and recessive traits show themselves. For example, the spots on their back can be very widely spaced on one python and close together on another.

Blood Python Feeding

Blood pythons eat a carnivorous diet, and many eat rats for their entire lives. You can feed these to the python dead, thawed, or fresh-killed. Live rats can hurt your snake, so try to avoid these.

Try to keep a feeding schedule something like this throughout their lives:

  • Hatchlings: Live pink rats or small mice from 4-5 weeks old after weaning
  • Juveniles: Medium and large mice; once or twice a week
  • Adults: Small until large enough to eat bigger rats; once a week
  • Before breeding season: 1-2 large rats a week
  • During winter: Some adults won’t eat at all during winter

Blood Python Care

It’s important that you learn about the things that your python needs to live a healthy life with you, and these cage, temperature, and humidity requirements will help.

The Cage

No matter how old they are, blood pythons are going to need a large and well-ventilated cage. When young, hatchlings and juveniles can be kept in glass terrariums with a ventilated top.

 

As they age, you will need to adjust how much space you give them:

  • Hatchlings don’t need more than 40 sq. inches of floor space or they may not feed.
  • Juveniles will do best with 180 to 300 sq. inches of space.
  • Adults need a minimum of 6 square feet of floor space, but doubling that for something like 12 square feet is better.

 

One common option that many reptile owners use as a cage is a plastic storage bin. But there are many PVD, plastic, or fiberglass cages that you can buy. These types of commercial cages are likely the best option for you to invest in.

 

Once you have the cage itself, you want to make sure that you set it up properly:

  • Newspaper is a great substrate choice for blood pythons. Cover the bottom of the cage with a layer and then crumble some on top.
  • Other substrate options include potting soil, bark chips, and carpet, but those are much harder to maintain.
  • Make sure your python has clean water available. Set up a bowl proportional to their size as they age (2.5” diameter to 4” diameter to 8” diameter). Never make the water deeper than half of their girth, as this increases the risk of drowning.
  • Include wood structures to climb on and foliage to hide behind. Good hiding spots are key for blood pythons to be able to feel secure.

 

The Perfect Habitat Conditions: Temperature & Humidity

Blood pythons will prefer temperatures in the low or mid-80s for daytime temperatures. At night, a range of temperatures from 78 to 81 degrees Fahrenheit is an acceptable limit. Blood pythons do not require a basking area, but if you want to use one, it should be around 86 degrees F.

Terrarium with a basking light Source

 

It’s crucial for you as an owner to know that blood pythons are not as tolerant of temperatures outside of this range right after they eat. This is because their body is putting its energy into digestion, not warmth. It is essential to keep temperatures especially strict during that time.

Humidity should be kept between 50% and 70% when possible. Higher humidity can cause illness and mold while lower humidity can make it difficult for the python to shed. Raising the humidity to the higher end of this range a before days before shedding will make the process easier.

Soaking

As mentioned, blood pythons will go through shedding, and if the humidity is too low, they may have some trouble. If the shed gets stuck to the snake, you can soak them in very shallow water for a few hours to get it off.

Be careful not to make the water too deep. Do not soak a sick or weak snake until they are feeling better.

Blood Python Breeding

It is possible to breed blood pythons, and the requirements to do so are very similar to other python species. A nesting box will be necessary, and eggs should be incubated in moist conditions at 84 degrees F for around 60 days.

One big thing that should be mentioned, however, is that you will likely not be able to breed your female blood python if she is wild-caught. Wild-caught females are known to have very low breeding rates, and they are likely never to lay eggs in captivity.

Wild-caught males, on the other hand, will breed with regularity. If you want to raise blood pythons, you will need to raise females from hatchlings for the greatest success rates.