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Care Sheet for the Blood Python

The Rare Black Blood Python Picture by J. Gamesby

Taxonomy
The subspecies P. c. brongersmai was elevated to a full species by Pauwels et al.
(2000)., while P. c. breitensteini was given species status by Keogh, Barker and
Shine (2001).
The divergence of this monophyletic group is presumed to be isolation of
populations resulting from changes in sea levels. Phylogenetic analysis of the
Malay population, P. curtus brongersmai, suggests a close affinity with the nominal
subspecies, however, P. curtus breitensteini was determined to be as genetically
distant from the original type as the species Python reticulatus.
An arrangement as subspecies is summarised as
Python curtus Schlegel, 1872
Python curtus curtus, western and southern Sumatra. One of two taxa
referred to as Short-tailed pythons.
Python curtus breitensteini Steindachner, 1880 Borneo short-tailed python
Type locality: Borneo.

Python curtus brongersmai Stull, 1935. Referred to by the common name


Red blood python, this taxon contains reddish colour morphs. The type
locality was Singapore, Malay Peninsula.
Python curtus breitensteini, Schlegel, 1872. Black blood python, Type
locality: Kalimantan.

Common name(s):
Short python, Blood python, Short-tailed python, Black blood python, Sumatran
short-tailed python, Sumatran blood python.
Native to:
Found in Southeast Asia in southern Thailand, Malaysia (Peninsular and Sarawak)
(including Pinang) and Indonesia (Sumatra, Riau Archipelago, Lingga Islands,
Bangka Islands, Mentawai Islands and Kalimantan). According to Stimson (1969),
the type locality is Sumatra
Adult size: 5/7 feet
Eggs: average clutch 18-30 eggs.
Appearance:
Adults grow to 1.5-2.5 m (58 feet) in length and are heavily built. The tail is
extremely short relative to the overall length. The color pattern consists of a beige,
tan or grayish-brown ground color overlaid with blotches that are brick to blood-red
in color.
Food:
Most pythons and boas are fed once a week. Be warned that they might be picky
eaters; some of them will only eat with the lights out and some of them have to
"hunt" their prey first, although it is best to feed them killed, defrosted frozen prey
to avoid injury or parasite infestation to your snake.
Ease of care: Average
Temperament: Sumatra Blood Pythons do have variable temperaments however;
while some can be quite calm and docile, others are high-strung, nervous, and
quick to bite.
Vivarium set up:
At all ages, blood pythons require a secure well-ventilated cage. A wooden
vivarium must be sealed with aquarium silicon sealant after painting the inside it
three oats of Yacht varnish. A glass aquarium with a secure ventilated top (screen
wire or perforated metal) can make a satisfactory cage for a young specimen.
Plastic storage boxes, with numerous perforations for ventilation, also can be used
to maintain blood pythons. Some of the commercially available PVC, polyethylene,
ABS plastic or fibreglass cages probably best accommodate the large size and
bulk of adult blood pythons. I would initially place hatchlings in a small enclosure
with about 40 square inches of floor space; we have found that often, if placed in
too large an enclosure, a hatchling may be insecure and fail to feed. Once regular
feeding begins, this species will quickly require a larger space, and should then be
moved to cages with 180 - 300 square inches of floor space. By two years of age,
most blood pythons will require a cage with 6 -12 square feet of floor space. One of
the most common mistakes made in keeping this python is to not provide a suitably
large cage for the adults.

Substrate: I used to keep mine on Moss with orchid bark underneath.


Note:
Sumatran Blood Pythons are large snakes growing to an average of six feet long
and topping off at around nine feet. Although they are not usually seen growing
larger than seven feet, it is possible to obtain a larger size in captivity, so be
warned. The Sumatra Blood Python is an awe-inspiring snake, one that will
certainly capture the imaginations of you and your guests. If you are not an
experienced snake keeper, you may want to try an easier, more predictable
species at first; the Sumatra Blood Python is a very large and often aggressive
snake that should only be kept by experienced hobbyists. You will want to raise this
one from childhood. Capturing one or purchasing one that has lived in the wild is a
bad idea, as the snakes may be excessively unhealthy or aggressive. If you get a
baby, and raise it from birth, it will be more likely to become handleable and get
used to you than one taken from the wild.
John Gamesby

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