Blood pythons and their short-tailed kin drink copiously, and fresh water should be made available to them at all times. Like substrate, the type of water bowl you provide for your blood python is mostly a matter of personal preference. Depending on your husbandry situation, some water containers may work better than others.
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What size water bowl should you offer your blood python? This mostly depends on the size of the snake in question. Regardless of your snake's size, all water containers should be easily entered and exited, since these snakes frequently enjoy soaking. It's not at all uncommon to open a short-tailed python's enclosure only to find the snake coiled in a water bowl.
water1th Hatchling bloods & STPs need relatively shallow water cups. If the water bowl is too deep, a small hatchling may not be able to exit and could eventually drown. For perspective, we use 8-ounce deli cups that are 4" in diameter, and about 1.5" deep for our hatchlings, and have never had a mishap (knock on wood).
Older juveniles can easily manage larger water cups, again, provided that the containers aren't excessively deep. We use 16-ounce deli cups for our bigger juveniles, and these cups are also 4" in diameter. While this size works well for our cages and our setup, any sufficiently-sized water bowl that the snake can easily enter and exit may be used.
Nearly any size container can be used for sub-adult and adult bloods, again provided that it is easily accessible for the snake. When considering large containers, think about whether or not it will be easy to remove from the cage and replace, especially when full. Water weighs approximately 8 pounds per gallon, so keep that in mind when contemplating a big water container for your adult short-tailed python. Never allow changing water or handling cumbersome containers to become a neglected chore, as fresh, clean water is essential to the health of your blood python. It should go without saying that a water container should be changed whenever the water is stale or fouled (whether by feces, sheds or substrate), and fresh water provided to the snake.
If you provide a container large enough for your python to soak in, it will do so. At some point, your snake will most likely defecate in its water bowl and may shed its skin in the water as well. Additionally, full water containers plus large, heavy blood pythons can easily equal displaced water swamping your snake's enclosure. While using awater2th smaller water container won't completely eliminate any of the above from happening, it will reduce the odds. Is this something that will have a major impact on your husbandry routine? Doubtful. By the same token, it's something to think about when considering potential water bowls. It's also worth mentioning that snakes may soak excessively due to snake mites, high cage temperatures, or a lack of places to hide within the enclosure. Since bloods and short-tails are frequent soakers, it never hurts to check periodically and rule out these factors as a good husbandry habit.
So in a nutshell as long as the water bowl is safe for the snake and easy for you to manage during routine husbandry, the sky's the limit in terms of choices available to you.
No matter what type of water container you choose, make sure it is one that can be easily disinfected (more on that under Maintenance). Some soft plastic surfaces are easily scuffed or scraped, and can create nooks and crevices for bacteria and other nasties to hide. Glass or ceramic water bowls are easily cleaned, but they tend to be heavy and will break if dropped. Stainless steel is another alternative. These bowls are simple to disinfect, sturdy, and come in a variety of sizes, though they do tend to be on the expensive side. Disposable plastic deli cups are another alternative - rather than cleaning & disinfecting, simply toss out the old cup & replace it with a new one. If this method suits your husbandry routine, please remember to recycle whenever possible.
If you keep multiple snakes, you'll have multiple water containers on hand, especially if you use spares for ease of cleaning/replacement. If this is the case, keep in mind your storage space available for extra containers, and whether or not your choice of water bowl will be easy to stack in that space. Large, heavy ceramic or plastic crocks water don't stack well and take up a lot of space due to that fact. This may seem like a minor point to cover, but it can make a big difference when you're organizing and minimizing clutter in your snake room or storage space.
Some herp supply vendors now offer lidded water cups for hatchlings, usually lidded deli cups with a hole cut in the lid for access to water. We've known keepers with larger collections that utilize these to minimize spillage and evaporation, thereby cutting down on maintenance time. Many times these lids fit very tightly, and the access opening can be dangerously small. We've heard of several occasions where a young python entered the water bowl & then became stuck or was otherwise unable to exit, and therefore drowned. Be very careful if you choose to use lidded water bowls, and make sure that lids do not fit too tightly. The minor reduction in maintenance time from using these bowls isn't worth the life of your blood or short-tailed python.
In this section, we've covered various containers for providing water to your blood python. Now it's time to unravel another of the common misconceptions about bloods and STPs: What are proper humidity levels for these snakes, and how does a keeper effectively provide them? Read on for more info...