Blood Python





Range: Tropical Asia

Habitat: Forested areas

Natural Diet: Small mammals & birds.

Diet at RainForest: Pre-killed rodents

Size: 4-6 feet , very heavy bodied snake

RainForest Facts: One of the most beautiful of all pythons, the Blood Python derives it's name from the skin color, not necessarily from a bad temper!  A very heavy bodied animal, the Blood Python spends the vast majority of it's time on the ground hunting as an ambush predator. This type of behavior makes the Blood Python terrestrial.

All Pythons are constrictors.  Snakes that hunt using constriction as a means of subduing prey will very quickly grab their prey with their teeth using a very fast strike. The constrictor will quickly wrap coils of their bodies around the prey and squeeze or constrict the prey item.  This process does not actually crush the prey and break its bones as is widely reported in the media.  Instead, they squeeze tightly so that the prey animal canít breath and it suffocates, this process usually requires about 3-4 minutes for the prey animal to be killed.

Once the snake is certain the prey item is dead they then begin to search for the animals head, virtually all prey animals are consumed head first.  This process allows the snake to literally "fold" the arms and legs of the prey animal back as the creature is swallowed.  Contrary to popular belief a snake does not "unhinge" it's jaws, the jaws in fact are not actually attached in a mechanical way.  Long tendons and muscles connect the upper and lower jaws.  The lower jaw is actually made up of two separate bones to further enhance the animals ability to manipulate large prey items.

Once the snake has the animal past it's jaws a series rhythmic muscular contractions then pull the prey down the snakeís throat and into its stomach.   A very large prey item can be observed in the snakes stomach as a large bulge.  Contrary to popular belief the large prey item is not digested by slowing moving down the length of the snake.  Once the prey animal reaches the stomach, usually about 20 minutes for a very large item, the food item is stationary in the snakes stomach as it is gradually digested.   

The size of the meal can have an impact on the duration of the digestion, but external factors such as ambient air temperature play a larger roll.  The snake must be careful not to eat when temperatures are too cool, the meal will quite literally decompose faster than the snake can digest it, causing a gaseous bloating in the snake that can result in death.  Conversely eating while temperatures are too hot can have a nearly identical impact as the high temps actually decompose the prey item faster.

Ideal air temperatures allow the snake to digest the meal prior to the food item decomposing!  Snakes often will regurgitate a meal when the conditions do not allow it to properly digest the meal, this can include both temperatures that are too high and too low!

How does the snake breathes while its mouth is full? It has a special tube in the bottom of its mouth that stays open to one side to take in air.


Status in Wild: This species is beginning to show a decline in population due primarily to loss of habitat.  Over collection for the skin trade has played a factor in the decline of the Blood Python.  Certain remote populations remain largely intact due to the inaccessibility of their habitat.

This species is currently not on exhibit at RainForest