There are three species in the Short Tailed Python complex, or the the “Blood Python” complex. The Red Blood Python, Python brongersmai, the Sumatran Short Tailed Python Python curtus, and the Borneo Short Tailed Python Python breitensteni. The Red Blood Python is found in Thailand, Malaysia and Sumatra. The Sumatran and Borneo Pythons are found on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo, respectively. While these snakes have a reputation for being aggressive and difficult to keep, this is outdated information from when wild caught specimens were originally introduced to captivity. With captive bred specimens and updated husbandry information its been shown that these snakes are quite easy to keep and not nearly as moody as their wild caught ancestors. There are many morphs of Red Blood Pythons available, and a few available of the Sumatran and Borneo Short Tails as well, however, the standard wild type/classic/normal variations are stunning by themselves.
Comparison of the three species (from the Blood Cell)
These snakes are quite large, and will require a fair amount of space as full grown adults. While only reaching around 4-5 feet of length as an adult, these are very heavy bodied snakes. Hatchlings can be started in 6 qt tubs, or similarly sized enclosures. Sub adults can fit in Iris CB70s, and most keepers maintain their largest adults in Iris VE175s (“Christmas Tree Tubs) or similarly sized cages (4-6 ft).
Decor: blood and short tail pythons are not climbers. They are heavy bodied snakes that prefer to be completely terrestrial. Decor in the form of climbing branches is not necessary.
Substrate: due to the huge amount of liquid waste these snakes produce, we prefer to keep them on newsprint so the entire substrate can be changed when soiled. We provide several sheets to allow them to hide in between them if desired.
Hides: standard snake hides can be provided for hatchlings and subadults. You’ll be hard pressed to find a hide for a full grown adult, but a large plastic tub with an entrance hole cut in to it will do the trick.
These snakes do best in the low 80s. We keep ours with ambient room temperature at 80-82F. High heat will stress the snake, causing feeding problems, illness and even poor attitude.
Contrary to popular belief, these snakes should not be kept wet, or with dramatically high humidity. Wet cages or high humidity will cause dimpled/crinkling scales, shedding problems and respiratory illnesses. Humidity should be maintained around 60-70%.
Food and water
Water: blood and short tailed pythons drink a lot. Their water will need to be replenished often. Bowls should be cleaned and wiped out at every water change. These snakes will happily soak if provided with a large enough water bowl. Giant dog bowls or large plastic tubs make good containers for full grown adults.
Food: it is a common misconception that blood and short tailed pythons need to eat huge meals. In fact, feeding too large or too often can lead to obesity, which is as much of a health hazard to snakes as it is to any other animal. These snakes are notorious for having a voracious appetite, so they are easy to overfeed. The majority will readily take frozen thawed rodents. Hatchlings can be started on rat pups once a week. Adults can be fed every 7-14 days. We may offer our largest females large rats at times, but medium rats once a week is typically what we feed our adults. A healthy blood python should have a barely triangular body shape, with the spine slightly visible but not protruding.
Thank you for reading our care sheet. There is never just one way to keep a reptile and your research should never stop after one source. Other great resources for short tail care are:
Vida Preciosa International’s borneo python care sheet
And if you’re interested in setting up a bioactive vivarium for your pet (which is possible but admittedly difficult for such as large species), the Bio Dude is an excellent source for premade kits.