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Short-tailed Pythons Care Sheets
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Care Sheet for Blood and Short Tail Pythons

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 4.67    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 11/30/2008

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Sub Category:

Blood and Short Tail Pythons

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Years Experience:

10 to 15 Years


Short-tailed Pythons

Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:


Sexing and Characteristics:

Short-tailed Pythons (blood and Borneo pythons) are difficult to sex. Your best bet is to have a professional probe your snake. If you have experience using a probe, you can do it yourself. Be sure to use the largest probe that you think will fit into your snake, and be extremely gentle. Females generally probe 2-3 subcaudal scales; males up to 7-8. Females will sometimes probe to different depths on each side of the tail; it is a good idea to try probing each side.

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Substrate and Water Needs:

Newspaper is the cheapest and easiest substrate to use. It does not hold humidity very well, but this should not be a problem if you have provided proper caging. Cypress mulch is also commonly-used, and it does hold humidity well, but it costs significantly more than newspaper. I prefer newspaper both because it is cheap and because it is easier to see when it needs to be cleaned. Short-tailed pythons generally excrete liquid urine 3-5 days after eating, and this will often go unnoticed when using a particulate substrate such as cypress mulch. Other commonly used substrates are heavy craft paper and aspen mulch. Never use pine or cedar; the oils release toxic fumes.

Contrary to popular belief, STPs do not need to soak on a regular basis. They do, however, need a water bowl large enough both to keep them from tipping it over and to provide an adequate source of cage humidity.

Lighting and UVB:

No special lighting is needed.

Temperatures and Humidity:

STPs do well within a temperature range of 80-85 F. It has been my experience that when kept in a constant ambient (air) temperature in that range, they don’t need any additional heating. If you opt to use heat tape or heat pads, use a proportional thermostat to keep the temperatures around 87 F.

Humidity should be kept between the mid-50s to the high 60s. Usually, this can be achieved by using a good-sized water bowl. When your snake goes into, spray the cage periodically to raise humidity.

Heating and Equipment:

Heat tape and heat pads are good for those who want to use belly heat; they must be controlled with proportional thermostats. Ceramic heat emitters and radiant panels are known to lower humidity and may not be suitable for short-tailed pythons. Incandescent heat bulbs can also be used, but it can be more difficult to situate it so that it provides the proper temperatures for your snake.

I have been successful using only a small oil-filled radiator to heat my snake room to an ambient temperature of 80-85.

Caging Provided:

STPs can be kept in glass aquariums; however, these cages hold heat and humidity very poorly, and your snake can become very stressed by the clear sides. Many of the pre-fabricated plastic cages made specifically for reptiles are good choices for STPs; clear plastic storage containers also work well. These plastic cages hold heat and humidity better.

For baby snakes, the best option is to provide a cage with enough space for a water dish and a hide. Larger cages make them nervous. As your snake grows, providing more open space for the snake to stretch is a good idea. An adult STP will do best in a cage with at least six square feet of floor space, more for larger specimens. For a hide, I provide younger snakes with crumpled newspaper. Adults seem to do fine without a hide, but you can give them a plastic box or several layers of crumpled newspaper. It really depends on the individual snake.



Description of Diet:

I feed my snakes rats only. I start them on small rats (3-4 weeks old, eyes open), and generally feed three times per month. Adult STPs which are not used for breeding can be maintained on small/medium adult rats, every two or three weeks. Large and jumbo rats are only necessary to help them gain weight for the breeding season. It is best to feed them only pre-killed prey. If your young STP refuses dead rats, feed it live rats, then switch to freshly-killed dead rats. It may be necessary to jiggle the rat gently in front of the snake to encourage it, but never tap your snake on the nose with the dead rat. This will only cause stress to the snake.

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:



Some Words on this Species:

Obesity is a very common problem in captive STPs, due to peoples’ thinking that a fat blood python is a healthy blood python. They are supposed to be heavy-bodied snakes, but not fat snakes. An easy way to tell if your snake is overweight is to look at the tail. A healthy snake will have a less-noticeable transition from its body to its tail.

Also, a few words on temperament: STPs have long had a reputation for being nasty, defensive snakes, and nothing but a pain to handle. I can say from personal experience that out of my entire snake collection, the snake I trust the most is a blood python. Conversely, the snake I trust the least is also a blood python. While most seem to fall somewhere in between, simply tolerating handling, it depends a lot on the individual snake, but it also depends on you, the keeper, to be able to read the small behavioral signs that tell you how your STP is feeling. During handling, it is very important to support the snake’s weight and to handle it gently and confidently. That way, even a less even-tempered STP can be handled without incident.
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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