While your blood or STP's enclsoure should play a major role in making your snake feel safe & secure, sometimes adding an additional hide is necessary. Whether you're dealing with new hatchlings, high-strung adults, or simply snakes that show a preference for hiding, it's a good idea to know what options work best for blood & short-tailed pythons.
What Kind of Hide Do I Need?
As with other aspects of their environment, hides don't need to be elaborate in order to be effective for bloods & STPs. As long as it meets the basic requirement of providing a safe, secure spot for the snake, and is easy to clean or replace, nearly any solution you come up with can make a good hide.
If you're using a paper substrate in your blood python's cage, adding several extra layers for the snake to hide under is a simple way to provide extra security within the enclosure. Blood and short-tailed pythons will frequently make use of paper substrate in this manner, and whether you use newspaper, kraft paper, or some other type, this is a simple, cost-effective way to provide a hide to your snake. When the paper becomes worn or soiled, simply toss it out and replace it with new layers.
A similar approach for creating hides can be also be used with particle substrates. If you use a substrate like aspen, cypress mulch, Care Fresh, or Sani-chips, providing an extra-deep layer of bedding into which your python can burrow can double as a hide. This way the snake can choose a spot warmer to the heat source (if you provide one), or basically sit wherever in the cage it feels comfortable (this is also true for paper substrates). Another option is to provide a light layer of paper over particle substrate to act as a hide. This method works quite well, especially if you don't want to use an extra-deep substrate layer, but still want a simple hide for your snake.
There are several benefits to using substrate that doubles as a hide. It's easy to replace, doesn't require lots of additional maintenance, and doesn't force the snake to choose security over the warmer or cooler spots in the cage (or vice versa). Also, your python won't outgrow it's substrate. You will probably need to provide deeper layers as the snake grows larger depending on your choice of substrate, but this is still simpler than upgrading through different sizes of hide boxes as the snake matures.
Whether for aesthetics, maintenance, or personal preference, you may want to use something other than substrate as a hide in your python's enclosure. Cork bark flats or half-rounds, overturned plant saucers, plastic totes and even cardboard boxes can be turned into simple hide boxes. Herp supply vendors and pet stores also offer molded plastic or resin hides for reptile enclosures. No matter your choice for a hide, ensure that it is safe for your blood python, and also easy to clean. Porous materials like cork and terra cotta clay are more dificult to clean thoroughly, compared to plastic.
When selecting a hide for your blood or short-tailed python, make sure you choose the right size. Hides should provide a slightly snug fit for the snake, as the goal is to create an extra sense of security. Large, cavernous hides defeat the purpose of providing one in the first place. With this in mind, there are some styles of hides that should not be used for blood and short-tailed pythons.
Avoid hollow log, "tube" style hides. While these may be aesthetically pleasing for the keeper who prefers a more natural environment, these hides can be deadly should a blood python wedge itself in and become stuck. Cork flats or half-rounds make a good alternative in this case. The same can be said for plastic totes or other containers. Rather than cutting a round hole in the side or lid of such a container, cut an ample entrance that extends all the way through the lip of the container. This way a snake that doubles up through the opening can push its way out or pop the lid off, instead of getting stuck in a potentially dangerous situation.
No matter what your preference for hides, following these simple rules of thumb will help you create a safe and straightforward solution for your short-tailed python. If you have some creative hide ideas, we encourage you to submit them to our caging gallery to share with other keepers.
Continue reading for our closing thoughts, as well as links to our discussion forum & various resources.