Most people have different ways and methods to their breeding routines, some don’t change a thing, others will completely shut off heat and let the ambient temperatures control the outcome. We do a mix of both.
1. To start a season off correctly we will ensure that every female is up to a sufficient weight that we feel they should be at. If they are a new breeder it will de
pend on their feeding response since they can continue eating during breeding. If they are past breeders we make sure they are at or above their weight from the prior season.
2. Weight in males is just as important, we make sure that the males are up to at least 400 grams (if they are from the last hatching season) or 600+ for older males and that they are lean and not fat.
3. Breeding for us starts the Tuesday after the N.A.R.B.C Tinley show, where we will begin introducing males into females cages as well as dropping the temperatures at night.
4. Temperature drops begin at the same time as introduction, we generally lower the hot spot to 85 or 86 degrees where the ambient temperature stays around 79 or 80 degrees. We have successfully bred in the past without any temperature drops however we believe this helps in aiding a female to produce follicles if a male hasn’t bred with her yet.
5. We like to keep pairs together from Monday night to Friday morning. If a lock occurs in that time it gets recorded and after the male is done with that female, we will switch him to another female he is planned to be with.
6. We have an ultrasound which helps track the development of follicles. This is because we like to make sure the male isn’t working too hard when he doesn’t need to. A female will start producing follicles if she feels that the temperatures are sufficient and that her body weight is correct. We will usually not see this until the follicles are 10mm or larger. When the follicles have reached 20mm we will slate that female as having a high probability of breeding. Some females will absorb the follicles at this size but that is pretty rare. It is around this time that you will see females soaking and seeking the cool side of their enclosure as well as beginning to glow.
7. For past breeders we will look through their development records which have been put into a spreadsheet to see if they are progressing like the past seasons. For new breeders we generally start ultra sounding them by the middle of November. We record every follicle measurement we get so we can anticipate when we will be getting eggs and so that next season we will know when a male should be introduced to that female.
8. Once the follicles have reached 30mm a male is paired with a female more often to make sure that we get viable eggs from the female. It is only a matter of weeks before she ovulates, which usually occurs at 40-45 mm.
9. When we have our first ovulation we will switch on our incubator so that it can get to the right temperature it needs to be.
10. Most often a female will shed 15 days after her ovulation. This will also be recorded. The longest we have had is 27 days after ovulation. We usually anticipate getting eggs 30 days after the pre-lay shed but we have gotten eggs as early as day 21 and as late as day 45.
11. Usually by the beginning of March is when we will bring temperatures back up so that the females who have laid eggs or ovulated have a good hot spot for the eggs/food.
12. Once we have eggs we put them in our incubator which sits at 89.6 or 90.6 degrees depending on the shelf, as we have a 8’ X 5’ X 8’ room as our incubator. We heat our incubator with two radiators, both controlled by separate thermostats. One is a Ranco and the other is a Johnson. We circulate the air with 2 fans - one pointing down at the radiators and the other pointing across the room. We are only concerned with humidity within our egg boxes which we keep at 90% or higher. This is achieved by simply mixing the vermiculite when the eggs were placed in the box. Our room has a humidity level of about 40%.
13. Our seasons run for quite a while and we see our first eggs laid around the beginning of March and our last ones generally hatch in August or September.
14. Our Eggs are usually fast hatching - where the hatchlings will be out by day 52-54, whereas the usual breeder only sees this on day 57-60. We tend to manually cut our eggs for a few reasons. The first reason is impatience which is the honest truth. We would never risk harming the snakes though so we go through precautions by disinfecting all of our tools and make sure the cut is not a wide open hole. By slitting the eggs open we have saved quite a few animals from a twisted umbilicus. We have done this by either untwisting it and leaving the snake alone or by completely removing the yolk sack manually. If you have any questions regarding the twisted umbilicus please e-mail us and we can send you an article that we wrote on it. We have had great success with hatching ball pythons the way we do it and have only lost 5 snakes in the eggs due to complications that caused deformities or kinking. We take a lot of pride in the hatchlings we get and would never risk harming them for our own personal gain. We cut because it works for us and we are very cautious of all possible pathogens or problems that may occur from it!
While our method may be a mix of many other methods we have had to adjust according to our climate which is true for most people. Altitude and the general amount of precipitation will significantly affect whether your method works or not. While we have found a general method on how to breed our snakes, we are always adapting to deal with the problems we have run into.
Thanks for reading and we hope this helps