Blood pythons are beautiful snakes with a ‘feisty’ personality, so you need to know how to handle them properly. Like all snakes, they’re obligate carnivores that survive on a diet of rodents. The blood python’s enclosure setup needs to be large enough to accommodate wide-bodied snakes that can weigh up to 30 pounds and grow to between 4 and 6 feet in length.
A blood python’s tank should be 48x24x15”, or around 40 gallons. It should have a basking spot of 88 degrees and a cool end of 85 degrees. Humidity should be between 60 and 70%. These snakes require enrichment that consists of two hides, branches, a water bowl, and foliage. Use Aspen as a substrate as it holds onto moisture well.
Blood pythons only reach the same length as other pythons, but they have a much wider girth. So, they need a larger enclosure.
Blood Python Enclosure Setup
A 48x24x15” enclosure will allow an adult blood python room to sit comfortably. The enclosure should be set up with the following:
- Two hides. This is where the snake will sit when it wants peace. You will need an extra-large hide due to its width.
- Enrichment. Things like twigs and sticks, leaves, plants, and so on provide cover. This is essential to making your snake comfortable. Without it, they will become nervous and stressed.
Enclosures of this size (48x24x15”) offer seven square feet. The length of the enclosure is more than is required for other snakes of this length.
Juveniles require smaller enclosures as they will feel vulnerable in a large space. A small plastic tub would be sufficient for their first year before ‘graduating’ to a much larger living environment.
Enclosure Type: Plastic vs. Glass vs. Wood
Snake enclosures affect the humidity, temperature, and comfort of your snake. Here are the different options:
- Plastic: Plastic is affordable, easy to clean, you can move it easily, and it holds onto humidity. Plastic enclosures are hard to modify.
- Glass: Glass looks amazing, but is more expensive and much heavier. It doesn’t hold on to humidity well, which can be a problem when a snake is shedding its skin. It can break relatively easily.
- Wood: A wooden enclosure is less expensive than a glass enclosure, as well as being less likely to break. It’s easier to make modifications, such as adding decor, heaters, humidifiers, etc. Unfortunately, they’re more susceptible to water damage and are harder to sterilize. This could be a problem if your snake gets mites.
You can keep a blood python comfortably in any of these kinds of enclosures. However, we’d recommend wood or plastic (PVC).
Can You House Blood Pythons Together?
Blood pythons have a reputation as nippy and hard to care for. However, this isn’t the case with today’s specimens. Wild-caught blood pythons earned this reputation, but captive-bred blood pythons are much calmer.
However, you shouldn’t house blood pythons together. In the wild, snakes don’t live communally, bar one or two exceptions. Blood pythons are solitary animals that don’t enjoy being around other snakes. Snakes don’t get lonely, and will happily spend their lives without interacting with other snakes. Housing multiple snakes in the same enclosure cause:
- Stress. Being near other snakes makes them feel stressed.
- Fighting. Snakes may fight over food, hides, or basking spots.
- Potential cannibalism. Many snake species are comfortable eating other snakes. This occurs when one snake is bigger than the other.
Blood pythons come from the forests and rain forests of southeast Asia. Here, temperatures are warm and the humidity is high. You should mirror these conditions with the snake in captivity, or they will become sick.
Temperature-wise, the hot end of the enclosure should be 88 degrees. This is on the warmer end of the scale for a pet snake. The average for other species is around 85, although some require more heat.
The snake will bask here if it ever needs to be warm, e.g. when it’s digesting. Since they’re cold-blooded, they need you to warm their enclosure for them. They will move between the two ends of the enclosure as they need to.
The cool end should be between 80 and 85 degrees. You should provide a hide at this end of the enclosure. The snake will sit inside if it feels stressed or afraid. Or, it will hide inside to cool down in the shade.
This especially is higher than other snakes require. Many other species need around 78-80 degrees. This is indicative of the fact that these snakes live close to the equator in an area without much temperature divergence.
The temperature can be maintained using heat tape, a heat mat, or a ceramic bulb.
These snakes require humidity between 60 and 70%. You can control humidity with a spray bottle. You will need to spray every day to keep the level high enough. The more openings there are in the enclosure, the more frequently you’ll need to spray it.
You could opt for an automatic misting system if you don’t have much time. These spray on their own regularly. You can set them to spray more or less frequently. Another way of keeping humidity high is with a water bowl.
You will need a hygrometer (humidity meter) to keep track of the humidity level. This is like a thermometer but for humidity. You can buy gauges that measure both humidity and temperature, as a 2-in-1 tool.
Substrate And Bedding
Blood pythons require high (60-70%) humidity. There are three main factors in their enclosure that affect the humidity level: the water that you spray in there, the amount of ventilation in the enclosure, and the substrate you use.
The substrate affects humidity because it can hold onto the moisture. It can hold onto lots of moisture and give it off slowly without leaving a pool of water. You want a substrate, like a sponge, because you’re going to need to spray the enclosure frequently.
A substrate that acts this way is Aspen. Aspen shavings are made of an airy wood that holds onto a lot of water without becoming excessively damp. Keep it clean by spot cleaning, i.e. whenever you notice a mess, you should remove the excrement and urates from the substrate.
Replace the entire substrate once a month. When you do, spray the enclosure with an antibacterial spray to help prevent scale rot.
Heating and Lighting
All snakes are cold-blooded, so they don’t generate their own body heat. Instead, they rely on the heat of their environment to keep them warm. This means that you have to provide heat for your snake in its enclosure. There are several ways to do this:
- Heat lamp. A heat lamp gives off warmth, but not light.
- Light bulb. Gives off heat to warm an enclosure with good insulation.
- Heat mat. Heat mats warm the enclosure from underneath.
- Heat tape. This is like a heat mat, except it’s bendy. It can be laid like a ribbon from one enclosure to another, so it’s ideal for stacks.
There must be one hot end of the enclosure and one cool end. This allows the snake to adjust its own temperature. When it’s too hot, it goes to the cool end; when it’s too cool, it goes to the hot end.
Most snake owners use a heat mat. That’s because it sits under the tank rather than inside it. A bulb sits inside the enclosure, and the snake could accidentally touch it and burn themselves.
It is possible to buy temperature regulators, which turn the heat mat/bulb on or off when a certain temperature is reached.
Does a Blood Python Need UV Lighting?
Owners believe that snakes thrive when supplied with UVB lighting. UV lighting is similar to visible light in that it’s given off by the sun as a kind of radiation. You can’t see it, but it interacts with the skin to create vitamin D.
You can include a small UVB light in your snake’s enclosure. The idea is that it allows the snake to synthesize vitamin D. This can’t be done with artificial light, e.g. from a light bulb. Sunshine or a special source is essential.
However, there is limited evidence that UV light is necessary. According to Veterinary Record, it’s unclear whether the light has any beneficial effect. They certainly do for other reptiles, but as for snakes, nobody is sure.
Either way, anecdotal evidence suggests that UV light isn’t needed. Snakes that live without it are perfectly healthy.
Enrichment And Toys
Enrichment is a term that refers to decorations and items in the snake’s enclosure that improve your snake’s experience and comfort.
You’ll need two extra-large hides. Hides are tiny caves that the snake can hide in. Without them, your snake will feel vulnerable. During shedding, you can also line it with wet tissue to help your snake shed its skin.
Also required is some kind of foliage, real or fake. This lines the sides of the tank and simulates the python’s natural environment. Almost all snakes hide in the undergrowth or tree branches for protection.
You may want to include a branch for your snake to sit on. Even if it isn’t arboreal, it may enjoy sitting on or under a branch. It is also somewhere for it to sit when the substrate gets too damp, which prevents scale rot.
You should also buy a liner for the back wall of the tank. These come in a variety of designs that all look natural, e.g. like a big rock. Your snake will prefer having at least one side of its enclosure ‘blocked off’ for security.
Best Enclosure for Blood Pythons
Now that you know exactly what the enclosure needs to be optimal for your blood python, it’s time to pick one. While you can buy enclosures online and at pet stores, the ‘right’ size isn’t easy to find, but we’ve found a good one.
Zen Habitats Reptile Enclosure
This spacious 80-gallon enclosure from Zen Habitats is 48x24x16, and would comfortably accommodate an adult blood python. The sides are non-reflective, which is useful if you have a particularly nervous or anxious snake.
This enclosure is made of PVC panels, which is a good material for a blood python cage. It holds onto heat and humidity really well, but still has some ventilation on the left and right sides. It has front-sliding doors. It requires some assembly, but full instructions are supplied.