Mutation Creation BP Breeding Page
Ball Python Breeding
Many people feel the next logical step in the world of keeping snakes is breeding them. It’s up to the snake owner if they want to take this step, but it is truly a rewarding, exciting and amazing experience.
As with most snakes, the weight of a ball python is a bit more important than the age of the snake when determining if the snake is ready for breeding. A female ball python should be at least 1200 grams before breeding, which she should reach at between 2 and 3 years of age. Males are much smaller, and should be at least 700 grams before breeding. Typically, males will reach this weight by around 8 months of age.
It is very important that both sexes are of adequate size before breeding, otherwise they can experience severe health problems. For females, this can mean becoming egg bound (not being able to pass the eggs) and for males, it can mean dangerous weight loss if they stop eating while breeding - which is not uncommon.
Preparing the Ball Python for Breeding
Ball pythons are "cycled" before breeding. As in nature, seasonal temperature and light changes inform the snakes instinctively that it's time to breed and these must be replicated in a captive environment. Normally, this process begins in October.
When cycling, the cold spot of the ball python’s enclosure can drop to 72-75°F and the hot spot 82-85°F. Near the equator, the hours of daylight don’t typically change as drastically as they do in some parts of the world, like Canada. Some breeders will keep their ball python’s lighting schedule at 12 hours of light and 12 hours of dark, but others will change this to 10 hours of light and 14 hours of dark.
After a month of cycling, the males can be introduced to the females and can stay there until she ovulates. The snakes can also be separated and fed every few days.
In February, return the temperatures back to normal.
Females will begin to swell, producing follicles, and then she will ovulate. Ovulation might be tricky to try and recognize the first few times it happens, but the female will swell immensely. Once she ovulates the male can be removed, and the female should have a pre-lay shed in a few weeks.
Eggs and Incubation
The female will begin to lay her eggs around 30 to 50 days after the pre-lay shed. On average, ball pythons lay 6 eggs.
Once the female lays her eggs, it is up to the breeder whether they want to leave the eggs with the female (for maternal incubation) or gently unwrap the female and take the eggs away to inclubate them at around 89°F. These eggs can be incubated in a medium like vermiculite, perlite, or hatchrite. Hatchrite is pre-moistened and easiest to use.
The eggs should take approximately 50 to 55 days to hatch.
The hatchlings are not much different than adult ball pythons, and can be kept in a simple set-up with paper towel substrate, a small hide and a water dish. Keep in mind that the enclosure should be small enough for the hatchling ball python to still feel secure. A week after hatching, you can begin offering the ball pythons hopper mice or fuzzy rats.