Blood Python

STATUSLeast Concern

COMMON NAME (SCIENTIFIC NAME)Python brongersmai

DIETVariety of small mammals and birds, primarily will feed on rats, mice, and other rodents

RANGEFound in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia

HABITATThey live primarily in lowland swamps, but can also be found in rainforests and marshes

Blood Python

NOTE: Education Animals are “behind-the-scenes” animals & only appear to the public during Educational events. This includes scheduled events or programs such as daily animal mingles, private onsite programs, and zoo reaches. For more information, please reach out to edureservations@lvzoo.org.

Program and General Information

The Blood Python is medium-sizednon-venomous snake species found in the Malay Peninsula, Thailand and Sumatra and other smaller islands.

They are also known by other common names such as red blood python, Malaysian blood python, Sumatran blood python, red short-tailed python or Brongersma’s short-tailed python.

The species is found in tropical forests, palm plantations, and tropical swamps and marshes in the Malaysian peninsula, eastern Sumatra, and outlying islands.

Common Physical Features

A mature Blood Python will grow to 5-8 feet in length and are heavily built with muscle. In relation to the length of the python’s body, its tail is very short in length. Its blood red color comes from its scales, which will begin to appear within 2-3 years of age. Females are often longer than males. When breeding, they lay a clutch of up to 12-16 eggs.

The body color ranges from tan, brown, yellow to a cherry red, bright red or oxblood covered with lighter gold, tan, gold or orange and black blotches and stripes. The belly is usually white, very often with small blackish markings

The head is usually gray, although some specimens may exhibit a black or even reddish head, they are also known for their changing head colors. So a black-headed snake in the morning could have a very pale, faded head coloration in the evening and vice versa.

Habitat and Global Range

Found in Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. Unconfirmed records state that these snakes may be found in several other countries (Singapore), but it is more likely that they were introduced there by humans.

They live primarily in lowland swamps, but can also be found in rainforest habitats and marshes. They have been known to exist well in human populated areas and are especially found in oil palm plantations where they feed on rodents attracted to the area. It is believed that the ability to thrive in these human-modified areas is leading to an increase in the general population of the species.

Diet

Blood pythons will prey upon small mammals and occasionally birds. Rats, mice, and other rodents make up the majority of their diet.

They are non-venomous snakes, like all pythons, and kill their prey by constriction. After biting their prey, they wrap around it and squeeze tighter every time the prey lets out a breath, until the prey is dead. They then swallow the item whole.

Behavior and Life Cycle

Blood Pythons reach sexual maturity at 2-4 years old. Oviparous, females will lay up to 16 eggs. Females will remain coiled during incubation period and are likely to shiver to produce heat for the eggs. Because of this, they may lose half their body weight during incubation. Hatchlings will emerge after 2.5-3 months at approximately 12 inches in length. Wild pythons will be nervous, thus aggressive. Pythons in captivity will be more docile if handled from a young age. They spend most of their time in water for hunting purposes.

Fun Facts

  • Also known as Brongersma’s Short-tailed Python or Red Short-tailed Python. This snake was originally considered as subspecies of Python curtus but was recently upgraded to its own species in 2001.
  • Blood Pythons can weigh up to 50 pounds!
  • They spend most of their time underwater waiting to ambush their prey.
  • They, like all pythons, have heat-sensing pits on their upper lip that help them detect warm-blooded prey.

Conservation Messaging

Blood Pythons are hunted frequently for their scales for leather. It is estimated that 10,000 individuals will be taken this a year. 50,000 skins are reported to CITES by Indonesia every year.   Populations are now dropping in Southeast Asia due to this overhunting. They are also quite common in the pet trade. However, many owners cannot provide the proper care for these snakes because of their large size and long life span.

Be careful when buying leather or snake skin. Do not buy leather or fur from real animals. Research pets before you become an owner. Be aware of expected lifespan, diets, and specific requirements. Make sure to research the provider of your pet and not purchase from someone who removes animals directly from the wild.