Hello! I’ve recently purchased my very first blood python, a normal-type female who is about 6 months old. Just waiting for the temperatures in Memphis to warm up so it’s safe for her to ship. I’m extremely excited, as I’ve wanted a blood for a very long time. I’ve done a lot of research, but I figured it wouldn’t be a bad idea for me to get some feedback on my set-up from some experienced people before she arrives. I just want to make sure everything is perfect for her when she finally gets here!
I have a plastic tub with a latching lid that measures 17x11.3x6.5 inches. I’ve drilled plenty of air holes. Does this seem like a good size for a 6-month baby? It seems small to me, but my research has informed me that babies tend to feel more secure in smaller enclosures. This size (or something close to it) was recommended on several care sheets I found, but I can always get a different size if necessary. (Obviously I’ll step her up to larger enclosures as she grows, and intend to get her a nice front-opening PVC enclosure at least 4’x2’x2’ once she’s reaches adulthood.)
I have a small heat mat with a thermostat for heating. My research has suggested that temps in the low to mid 80s (F) is best. Temp will be monitored with a digital probe thermometer and an infrared temp gun.
For hides, I have one open-bottomed plastic hide for her warm hide, plus a piece of cork bark to put on the unheated side.
I have a ceramic dish to use as a water dish.
For substrate, I was planning to start out with paper towels, as this makes issues like mites and problem poops easier to spot. Once she’s through the quarantine period, I was planning to switch to either coconut husk or cypress mulch.
I plan to manage humidity manually for now with a hand-sprayer. I’ve read that 60-70% is what I should aim for. Humidity will be monitored with a digital hydrometer.
I have a quiet place for her away from my other reptiles (separate room on a different floor) while she quarantines and adjusts to her new home. I know to give her a week or two to settle in before I handle her or feed her.
Does this all seem okay? If not, what should I change? I still have time to make changes before she gets here, so please don’t hesitate to call out anything that’s incorrect or should be improved! I want to give this gorgeous girl the best possible life. I’d appreciate any husbandry corrections or other pointers you could offer!
Thanks for reading.
@saleengrinch will be able to help lol
I’d especially appreciate some opinions on the best substrate to use (after quarantine). I live in a pretty dry climate, so I’ll need something that helps maintain humidity well, which is why I’m leaning towards something like coco husk or cypress mulch.
I would plan to use coco or blend your own substrate that will hold humidity well but not mold too easily in the long term. It’ll be fine on a paper for a bit until you’re confident you see no issues. They tend to like to bury in the substrate more than use hides so when you switch to substrate go deep with it.
They don’t handle like other pythons. If it has a spicy temperament when you get it come back here for handling tips. They’re ground dwellers so they aren’t designed to be unsupported, keep that in mind when picking it up.
Thanks for your feedback!
I currently have a sand boa, so I do have experience handling clumsy climbers (though granted, my KSB is quite a bit smaller than what a blood will mature to). I’ve also worked with wild snakes and some pretty darn grumpy captives of various species and sizes, so I do have at least some experience handling snakes with some attitude. I don’t scare easy and am not afraid of bites. I know bloods aren’t always puppy dogs, especially when they’re young. It’s my hope that she’ll tame down with age, but it’s okay if she doesn’t. I know temperament can vary quite a bit between individuals.
It’s not so much the attitude that makes them different, it’s more behavior. Bloods when nervous will back up continuously or even roll and thrash if really stressed. They will also strike straight up vertically from the ground. When they get a bite, they generally will not release it on their own. They have what I would call a poker face before they strike, they won’t give you any indication they’re going to go for it. They also tend to get a little irritated when you’re touching them with both hands. One hand seems to bother them a lot less. They can clearly count to two because they usually let you know what they’re thinking when the second hand touches them.
That said, most of them are puppy dogs and since you’re getting a young one you get to grow into it’s size together. They just behave in a unique manner and it takes a little adjusting.
That’s all really good information to have, thank you!
Quick question: you said that they tend not to let go on their own when they bite…what have you found to be the best way to get them to release? I’ve never been bitten by a snake that didn’t let go eventually (think the longest I had to wait was about a minute, though it felt like longer). Just want to be prepared! I’ve heard people suggest various methods (like pouring water or mouthwash over the spot they’re biting), but since I’ve never had to use them myself, I honestly have no idea what works and what doesn’t. Obviously I don’t want to do anything that would harm the snake.
For a small one, gently put pressure in a ‘pinching’ fashion on the meat of their jaws, and as carefully as possible press their bite slightly forward to free the teeth and you should be fine. For an adult, diluted rubbing alcohol spray is what a lot of people use. I’ve never had a snake latch on that was too large to remove with the first method. Where the alcohol might be useful is when something bites and wraps. Can’t really see a situation where a blood would get a good wrap though so that shouldn’t be a concern for you.
This sounds like a good setup, as far as I can tell! Babies can sometimes refuse food, I have two yearlings that are finicky right now with f/t but they’ll eat every time it’s left overnight. Coco is a great substrate, but for adults I have them on paper to save costs. They pee liquid fairly often, although it varies by individual how much and how often, so make sure you change the coco because it will absorb urine and you might not be aware due to lack of urates. Leaf litter, or a bit of paper on top of the coco for them to burrow and hide under can help make more nervous individuals feel secure.
As for handling, try to “scoop” them from under, rather than picking them up in a “claw” motion. Regular, low stress handling sessions will pretty much chill them out, just try to make every experience positive, or at least not negative. Honestly, don’t worry about it too much, it isn’t as big a deal as some people would have you believe.
Thanks so much for your feedback! It’s good to hear that the set-up seems okay.
I’ve heard they pee a lot, but poop infrequently. How often would you recommend changing the substrate? I guess I’ll probably get some idea of how often she pees when she’s on paper towels.
I’m not really worried about handling/temperament, I know their reputation for being super aggressive is mostly a holdover from when the only specimens in the pet trade were wild-caught and that most captive-bred short-tails are pretty docile. But I also know that babies in particular (of many species, not just bloods) can sometimes be a bit nervous and nippy, so I just want to be prepared for every possibility (as much as anyone can, at least).
I’m so excited!
Still too cold to ship. I thought she might be able to ship today, as there was a window of warmer temps in Memphis…but the window shortened to only two days with lows above 40F, so the breeder advised we wait (which was almost certainly the right call, any shipping delays could have been a death sentence). I clearly picked the wrong time of year to buy my first snake off the internet. I just hope she doesn’t outgrow the tub I’ve prepared for her by the time the weather finally cooperates!