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Old 07-21-04, 10:42 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Blood/Short-tailed Python FAQ: Try here first!

<B><U><I>Blood/Short-tailed Python FAQ</i></U>

Are Bloods/STP really as aggressive as their reputation?</b>
Mostly, their reputation stems from wildcaught animals. Many captive bred animals these days grow up to be perfectly handleable animals. I find them to be more sensitive than other snakes (they tend to do something similar to hyperventilating, and are quite vocal), and need to be handled calmly. As a result, they can become upset more easily than other snakes. Hatchlings can come in all types of temperaments. Ideally, if you wish to have a more docile animal, you should aquire it as a hatchling so you can help form it's temperament as an adult.

<B>What temperature should my Blood/STP be kept at?</b>
I find a temperature gradient of 80/82 - 90/92 works well for most pythons.

<B>How should I measure the temperature?</b>
Stick on thermometers do not work well and they only measure the ambient (air) temperature around it. To measure the temps in your cage, you will need something that measures the surface temepratures in the cage, such as a temp gun or digital thermometer with a remote probe that can be placed in various areas around the cage.

<B>What is the best way to heat my snake?</b>
I prefer to use a bottom heat method, such as undertank heaters or heat tape. These are the most efficient method as they cost less, last longer, are very low wattage, and since heat rises, it makes more sense to heat from the bottom than the top. You can also use heat panels, incandescent bulbs, or ceramic heat emitters.

<B>What wattage bulb should I use?</b>
Nobody can tell you, as it will be different with each home and enlcosure. You will need to experiment to see which fits your situation best.

<B>What kind of enclosure should I have?</b>
Babies can be housed in rubbermaids with holes drilled for ventilation, and older snakes can be housed in custom enclosures. Tanks can also be used for smaller snakes, however they aren't the best choice IMHO as they do not offer any security, control over humdity, or insulation for maintenance of temperature, in addition to which they are quite cumbersome and inefficient space-wise.

<B>What is the best substrate?</b>
You should avoid any softwoods, such as pine, fir, and especially cedar! These contain phenols which can be harmful to your snake, some can even be potentially fatal! Some safe substrates include, but are not limited to, newspaper, papertowel, flannel sheets, Carefresh, sphagnum moss, and cypress mulch. Susbtrates that should be avoided include, but are not limited to, astro-turf, gravel, soil, softwood mulch/chips, and sand. Note that most loose substrates come with inherant risk of ingestion, which can pose problems such as impaction. I prefer to house all my smaller snakes on Carefresh or papertowels, and my larger snakes on newspaper or towels/sheets.

<B>How big will my Blood python/STP get?</b>
On average, you can expect to get your blood python to attain an overall length of 4.5'-6.5', with some specimens occassionally exceeding this. Although this may not seem very large, they are very powerful and quite girthy, reaching weights of up to 40 pounds. Borneo STP tend to be a bit smaller overall, usually staying within this 4'-5' range, however some larger specimens do occur. Smallest of them all are the Sumatran STP ('Black Blood' - as they are commonly called, however they are not blood pythons). These snakes generally stay in the 3.5'-5' range.

<B>How much should I feed my snake?</b>
Your snake will tell you when it is in need of a meal and what kind of meals it prefers, until you learn to read your snakes behaviours you can use the general guideline of feeding babies weekly and subadults every 2 weeks and adults every 2-3 weeks. Pythons can typically take very large meals, if you choose to feed your snake larger meals and he has no problems with them, make sure you do not feed as often. Safe meal sizes are those that are roughly equal to the same size as the snake's girth. These are digested quicker and can be fed more often than large meals.

<B>What should I feed my python?</b>
Baby Bloods/STP can be started on either hopper or adult mice and baby rats. Your python will grow quickly, so it is best to start them on rats or switch them overas soon as you can, to avoid the snake developing any preferences. Adult pythonss can be fed rats or rabbits, and sometimes guinea pigs as well (though these have a higher fat content and aren't as readily available in most cases).

<B>Why won't my snake eat?</b>
Some Bloods/STP may need a week or so to settle in before they feel comfortable feeding, so it is a good idea to leave them alone in the beginning. If your snake still won't eat you need to assess the situation carefully. Is your snake sick? If so, a trip to the vet may be in order. If not, are you feeding your snake what it was feeding on before? If so, are your temperatures ok within the cage? Is it possible your snake may be feeling "exposed"? Some snakes prefer to have several hides placed in their cages, as well as substrates that enable burrowing. This is especially noted in open enclosures such as glass terrariums. Is it possible that your snake is being stressed out? Are you handling it a lot or is it an a busy area of the home, or perhaps a family pet is hanging around a lot? Snakes shouldn't be handled until they are feeding reliably.

<b>Is my Blood/STP sick?</b>
The most common ailments in captive snakes are parasitic, bacterial and respiratory infections. If your snake is having runny defecations, not eating well, lethargic, underweight (losing weight or having trouble gaining), sitting with it's head facing the sky ("stargazing"), and gaping it's mouth, your snake may be suffering from a parasitic or bacterial infection. A fecal flotation and smear as well as a tracheal wash/culture should be done to determine the exact culprit, and appropriate medicinal treatment should be followed. If your snake is making gurgling sounds from the throat, popping or other obvious breathing sounds, blowing bubbles from the mouth, gaping his/her mouth, "stargazing", and congested with mucus, it likely has a respiratory infection. A culture should be taken to determine the type of antibiotic treatment that would best cure it. During treatment periods, it may be helpful to slightly increase the overall temperatures in the cage (from the above mentioned temperatures) to help "burn" out the sickness, much like a simulated fever.

<b>Why is my Blood/STP soaking?</b>
If your snake is soaking in his dish a lot, there may be a few reasons. Mites are a common reason a snake may soak. Do you see little black specks in his water or crawling on your snake? Your snake may also soak if the humidity is too low in the tank and/or he is going in to a shed. Your snake may also be soaking if the temperatures in the cage are too hot. Some animals may also soak if they are seeking security and are not provided with any other places.

<B>How do I get rid of mites?</b>
There are several ways to get rid of mites, each with their own pros and cons. Some of the most popular treatments include Nix lice shampoo (available in your local pharmacy), Black Knight roach killer, Provent-a-Mite (same ingredient as Nix), and Reptile Relief. Regardless of the treatment, the snake should be soaked in water for a little while to rid it of any mites before putting it back in the enclosure (I prefer to add a few drops of Ivory dishsoap to the water - make sure if you add soap, it is very gentle, not antibacterial), and the enclosure should be thoroughly cleaned and disnfected using your choice of cleaning agent and hot water. Mites can get in to, and lay eggs in the tiniest of crevices. If you have any wood, it should be thrown out or baked/boiled to kill any mites/eggs. If you are using decorative setups, it is best to switch to functional setups with only the necessary items and newspaper/paper towel as substrate. Nix should be diluted one bottle to one gallon of water and sprayed over entire enclosure (excluding water bowl). Allow to dry and place the snake (rinsed in clean water if it was soaked in soap) back in the enclosure. Some people recommend keeping a bowl or water in, but during the treatment I feel it is best to leave it out so the snake cannot drag any Nix in to it and drink it. Make sure you offer your snake water once a day if you do this.
With BK it should be sprayed lightly inside enclosure and closed for a bit to allow the aerosols to get in to any crevices. I prefer put substrate over top, but it can also be sprayed over substrate as well. Allow to air out thoroughly before placing snake inside. Again, water bowl should only be placed in after it has thoroughly aired out.
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