||Name: Blood Python
|Scientific name: Python curtus
|Range: Malaysia, Sumatra, and Borneo
|Habitat: swampy areas, poorly drained
plains, and low forested hills
|Diet in the wild: small mammals such as rats
and other rodents, birds
|Diet in the zoo: rats
|Location in the zoo: Herpetarium
Average adult size (length): 54"-78"
Maximum size: 96" *Female tends to be larger than
Weight: 40-45 lbs.
Head: Long and broad, wider than its neck.
Consist of dark colors that range from a charcoal gray to black.
Has a red stripe running from its internasal to the neck.
Body: massive girth, tail is short and tapers sharply
at the end of the body. Posterior colors are mostly dark hues with
pale pattern or blotches; Anterior colors are light hues with dark patterns.
Light colors consist of pale yellow to orange and the dark colors range
from dark orange to various shades of red and even black.
A blood python living in its natural habitat will spend
most of its time underwater. While submerged in a river or stream,
the blood python waits for its meal to cross its path. Python
curtus would then stalk the targeted prey and ambush it. This
aggressive characteristic is evident in other behaviors of the blood
python. For example, people who catch blood pythons in the wild have
reported many violent, ill-tempered actions. Wild pythons living
near human settlements are more likely to be regarded as dangerous
pests than as exotic pets. On the other hand, blood pythons that
are raised and bred tend to be more docile. The people who catch
the species Python curtus are mainly breeders and collecters
of exotic animals. Blood pythons have become endangered due to the
fact that their beautiful skin is now in high demand on the exotic
or behavioral adaptations:
Blood pythons also have special features
that differentiate them from other snakes. These features
include: lower jaw suspension for large prey; upper and lower
jaws with palatine bones containing curved teeth for instant
hold on prey; internal pair of hind legs in the shape of stout
spurs that can leave a scratch in defense; these spurs are
also used by the male to hang onto a female during mating.
Evidence of pits in the roof of the mouth suggest that pythons
once were venomous snakes.
Pythons have heat-sensing pits on
the upper lip that help them
to detect their warm-blooded prey. Blood pythons have only
two large pits on each side. You can easily see these pits
in the large picture at the top of this
courtesy of David
With the ability to constrict their
muscles, blood pythons can protect and defend themselves and
their young. When brooding females lay eggs, they will coil
up into a tight ball over the nest generating heat needed
for incubation. Because of the energy used in shivering,
a female may lose half her body weight during the incubation
period. Also, the constricting feature aids the blood python
in killing its prey by suffocation.
Five years ago I owned a red-tailed boa (located
in the same family as pythons) named Fritz. Fritz was constantly
in action. Whether he was attempting to escape his cage or was playfully
slithering in, out, and between my fingers, Fritz was very energetic.
In opposition to Fritz and his personality lies the two full grown blood
pythons at the Fort Worth Zoo. In my two trips the the Herpetarium,
I observed the snakes. Both encounters consisted of no action.
Each blood python was comfortably curled up into a ball in the corners
of their cage. Even respiratory movements were non-existent and it
was hard to tell they were even alive! My guess is that I had arrived
directly after lunch and the blood pythons were trying to digest their
meals. The cage in which the two blood pythons stayed simulated their
natural environment. A long branch stretched across the two levels
with many shrubs and leafy plants scattered about. Also, a small
pond was located toward the back of the cage where rats are released for
|Source Materials and Related
Barker, David. Vidapreciosa: http://www.vidapreciosa.net.
Web site designed: 1998-1999. VIDA Preciosa Publishing, LLC. March 26,
Parker, H.W. Snakes: A Natural History.
2nd ed. London: Cornell University, Press. 1977. 121-123.
Pope, CliffordH. The Reptile World.
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, INC. 1995. 173.
Schmidt, Karl P. and Robet F. Inger.
Reptiles of the World. Garden City: Doubleday and Company, INC. 1962.
Zoo Docent Pages: http://www.szgdocent.org/cc/c-boa.htm
For more information on blood pythons,
check out these sites:
|Other pythons at the Fort Worth Zoo include the Burmese
Python and Green
and Amphibians at the Fort Worth Zoo