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Ball Python Care

By: Dr. Steve Divers

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Confirmation of gender requires probing, a skilled technique using a blunt, well lubricated probe to identify the male hemipenes or female cloacal sacs. The probe is gently inserted under the caudal rim of the cloaca; in males the probe enters to a level of 6 to 12 subcaudal scales, while in females the probe will enter only to a depth of 2 to 4 subcaudal scales.

Breeding

Well-adjusted captive snakes may become seasonally anorectic during the winter months if they perceive a reduction in temperature and photoperiod. As long as the snake is healthy and well nourished, such anorexia should not be feared. Indeed many successful breeders purposely reduce nighttime temperatures and stop feeding as part of the breeding program. Maintaining multiple male and female groups apart during much of the year but bringing them together for breeding also improves breeding success.

Females usually lay 2 to 8 elongated leathery eggs which hatch after a period of 39 to 81 days, depending on the time of collection and method of incubation. Although females can brood their eggs, it is generally preferred to remove them for artificial incubation at 86 to 88 F with 60 to 80 percent humidity. On hatching, the young measure 38 to 43cm and will not accept pink mice as their first prey until after the initial shed, usually within 5 to 10 days of hatching. Care of the neonates is essentially the same as for adults, except that feeding requires the more frequent offering of smaller items starting with pinkies, then fluffs, sub-adult and finally adult mice.

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