Scientific name:
Python Brongersmai
The Red Blood Python..................

also known as the Maylaysian/Sumatran Red Blood Python is the Largest sized species of the short-tailed pythons. This heavy-bodied python has a massive girth with large female specimens weighing in at over 45 pounds. Males generally reach lengths of 3-5 feet while females are larger averaging at 4-6 feet but have been known to exceed 9 feet. This is one species of snake that is quickly diminishing in vast numbers in the wild. Over 60,000 short-tailed pythons are killed each year to supply the skin trade. Their huge body mass & attractive patterning unfortunately seem to make them 'the' choice of species both economically & aesthetically.

Bloods, unlike Borneos, vary greatly in colour. The body base colour can be orange-red, cherry-red, dark oxblood red & even yellow. While the head of the python can be medium-grey, charcoal grey, black & even red. Bloods Pythons also have the ability to change their head colouration thoughout the day, ranging from pale grey in the morning to almost black by nightfall. Their head also has dark lateral markings with a tan, grey & cream variable body pattern. Hatclings are are all fairly uniform in colour being a tan/orange-brown & develope their reddish colouration as they mature. The red increases with every shed from about 18 months of age. Colour also dictates the price with redder specimens being the more desired & expensive.

From experience Red Blood Pythons have variable temperaments. Hatclings are nearly always snappy, irritable individuals that calm down as they mature. There are exceptions, especially with wild caught specimens, that never calm down no matter how often they are handled. They are extremely fast growing. A 12 inch hatchling can easily exceed 2 feet in it's first year.

Distribution
Red Blood Pythons are found in Western Malaysia, Eastern Sumatra & associated outlying islands such as Bangka & Pinang. They inhabit palm plantations, low forested hills, marshes & poorly drained flood plains.
Housing

Short-tailed pythons require lot's of floor space. This is one snake where floor space should always take priority over height. The cage should ideally allow the snake to almost completely stretch-out (which seems to be a key factor in avoiding respiratory infections), have good depth for turning & be able to hold a good level of humidity.

All our snakes are housed in a converted cellar. This allows us to control the environment almost entirely while taking advantage of the natural year round humidity. We artificially control photo periods & room temperature which fluctuates with the seasons naturally but will only shift around 1 degree C during each day. This is especially useful for cooling our animals in the winter but also provides added peace of mind during Summer heatwaves. The ambient room temperature is checked each morning (to allow us to make any adjustments for the day ahead) & each evening. Good thermostats also provide added insurance against failing equipment. The daily use of a good digital thermometer & hydrometer cannot be stressed enough.

We house ours in a large sized (4'x2'x1.5") preformed plastic cages with sliding sealed lids with vents. Adult Bloods need 6-10 square feet of floor space, while hatchlings are best raised in Rubbermaid/Conteco boxes that are large enough not to restrict the snakes movements but also make the snake feel secure. If the container is too large there is a risk that the snake will refuse to feed. We use undercage heating in the form of 2 heat mats (20 watt) at one end. This indirectly heats just over a third of the cage floor. The cage has 5mm feet to allow for thermal ventilation. This provides a 25-31°C temperature gradient. Our cages naturally keep 60% year round humidity which works fine. We raise the humidity to around 75% at shedding times with the use of Sphagnum moss & daily misting. This produces perfect sheds. Our Bloods utilise both ends of their enclosure all year round, thermoregulating naturally. We use a newspaper substrate, two hides (one at each end) & a large ceramic water bowl (placed in the cool end). This species drinks a lot of water & needs a fresh supply at all times.

Feeding
Blood Pythons have ferocious appetites. One rat a week of an appropriate size will suffice. Hatclings start on rat pups, progressively taking larger prey until, as adults, will consume large rats with relish. Our Bloods will strike-feed all year round except when shedding. Care must be taken with adults as their strike is both very fast & very powerful. We use a good strong pair of barbecue tongues that have long handles to offer food with. The trick is to release the prey item just as the snake makes contact. Otherwise you may find the tongues being ripped from your grasp! Blood Pythons prefer prey to be offered warm. A preference that is particularly noticeable with hatchlings. It is important not to handle the snake for at least 2 days after feeding to avoid regurgitation.
In General
Blood Pythons are attractive & rewarding animals. They are not a beginners snake & potential keepers should have experience with working with high-humidity species. There is a huge difference in temperament between wild caught & captive bred specimens. This is one species of snake where it really does pay to purchase a good captive bred animal.
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