You have acquired ball pythons and you’re ready to try your hand at breeding. You’re not quite sure where to start – well you’ve come to the right place. We’ve contained the breeding process in steps sure to make your process easier.
Before you go breed crazy, please be sure your snakes are of age. We recommend the female be at least 3 years old, and male at least 1 year. Males should hit at least 800g before breeding. Females at least 1500g. You will see people recommending 1100 or so, but the smaller the snake the bigger the health risk.
December – February
Lower temperatures at the hot spot to 82″F to go down to the cooler spot of 73″F. It can be dryer in most regions, so make sure your snakes have a good clean water bowl at all times – as dehydration will still be a concern.
Shorten your days for your snakes by adjusting the lighting. We go from 12 hour days of light to 10 hours. That’s right, 14 hours of dark for these guys. This shows a significant change that will mark a change in the seasons. Remember, before us they were doing the same in the wild – so we are mimicking the season / length of day outside. This cooling off period happens for about a month, before we introduce our males. After cooling off period is over, we have our temperatures go back to normal.
We move the male to the female containers leaving them for 3 days watching for copulation. If you notice copulation on day 1, remove and allow the male to rest for 3 days. Keep this consistent as you do not want your male to burn out.
We do feed during this time but offer limited food.
March – May
Spring is in the air! Warm your snakes back up to normal temperature. You will notice that your males may refuse to eat at this point. We continue to introduce the male to the females container and you’ll notice attraction immediately. The male will seem to sniff at the female, and take control quickly. While you may notice the two lay together, be sure that they are actually copulating instead of just sharing warmth – don’t be over eager to remove the male. Leaving the male inside with the female no longer than two days, but if you remove quicker than 4 hours – this will lead to ill results.
Watching for ovulation. A lot of people have said they will watch snakes constantly to see if they notice ovulation. Its pretty easy to see, but easy to miss as well. It will look similar to feeding. However, if you introduce your pair to each other successfully, don’t worry about ovulation. By this time, its too late. Keep introducing them, and you’re sure to find their stride!
End of Spring is here and we’re coming on the summer months. You’ll notice when the snake is gravid and we cease or slow down the need to introduce the male in. Most females will start laying eggs towards the tail end of May but some can take their time through June (even July!).
June – July
Happy day! One day you’re off to work, off to a day of watching the kids, and you come back to find your female hovering over a clutch. When removing your female, be careful to leave the eggs with the right side up.
Wash your female with a mild soap water and put her in a new cleaned cage. This will remove the clutch scent so she can quickly forget about the clutch. If not done, she may not feed for the summer which I don’t need to tell you is a bad thing.
Incubating is something you want to set up before you think eggs will be arriving. Don’t rush around sterilizing, this should e done ahead of time. Your humidity should be high, and temperatures around 87 or so degrees. Temperature fluctuation can be tolerated, so not to worry. You’ll also notice if you fluctuate the degrees it will produce stronger hatchlings.
You’ll find mixed reviews on how to set up your vermiculite and how much water to add. Guys, don’t spend forever on this. Simply add water until it packs well. It should not be moist enough to wring like a sponge, in fact no water should drip out most of the time.
Remove bad eggs that are infertile – yellow tinged, and often misshaped. Some say don’t worry about it, and I say small spaces don’t smell that good if there is a rotten egg in the mix.
August – November
Your females have laid eggs by now, and feeding should resume. When resuming your feed schedule, start small increasing slowly. They should take to feeding normally again if you did in fact wash as mentioned. Her body weight should increase quickly and shed is normal after laying eggs. Feed multiple times a week. Imagine how hard it was to produce a good clutch of 6. Feed every 3 or so days and fatten her back up.
Document all activity. Document who you introduced to who, when you moved for copulation, and what was the outcome. Clear documentation is key for a versatile business. This will also show you your success or failures, what works and what doesn’t.
Consider getting a calendar specifically for your snakes. It doesn’t matter if it has kittens, sunsets, or anything else – keeping notes is key, and you’ll thank yourself later.