Missexed Ball Pythons

In 1997 I acquired a pair of adult Ball Pythons and at quite a good price too I might add. The pair came with a 55-gallon tank, screen cover, light, heat pad and a nice log for $150. These were pet snakes and the gentleman I talked with said they were a male and female pair. The female had laid two clutches of eggs before he owned them. He didn’t have time to take good care of them so he decided to sell them. One was in shed and they were in a little rough shape. I noticed rat bites and dry spots on them but I decided to buy them. I let him know that they would get the best of care and I was looking forward to breeding them. They ate quite well and I switched them quickly to dead rats. Before I new it they had shed a few times and were looking great. That year I did not try to breed them. I wanted them to settle in nicely and I was in no rush.

In 1998 they had great body weight and they stopped eating in late November. I began cooling them down in December by shutting off their heat pad. The daytime temperature was 80 degrees and nighttime was 75 degrees. I put the pythons with another male for just a few weeks hoping for combat, since I had seen no copulation. I had no results in 98′ and was a little discouraged. I began to wonder If, I really had a sexual pair.

[snip left2][/snip]In 1999 I picked up some sexing probes at a herp show in New Hampshire and was eager to get home to sex the ball pythons. After a few minutes of probing I came to the conclusion that I had two females. Well at least it wasn’t two males. Since I already had another male or since I now had 1 male and 2 females this was good news. Again they both looked in peak condition and I was serious on getting them to breed. A friend of mine has a nice male ball python with reduced color on the sides and we agreed to let me borrow him for the breeding season. Since I was now working with 2.2 ball pythons I thought I would have a better chance in getting them to do their stuff. All were off their feeding schedules by late November and my male had stopped in early October. I put the males together for a week or so starting late November and started cooling again on December first. I saw no combat between the males for two weeks or more so I decided to put my friends male in with the females in late December. Right away I observed courtship and the next mourning they had their tails intertwined but I could not see if it was copulation. I observe one copulation where I was one hundred percent sure that it was true. I also observed more wrapped tails for two months. I put my male in with the females for a few weeks in April, I believe and again observed tails intertwined. By late April one of the females were huge and I was sure she was ovulating or already had developing eggs. She would lay on her side a lot and by late April she was on her back almost all the time. The first week of May she shed so I knew it would be a month when she would lay her eggs. At this point I was extremely excited and was waiting the day of her egg laying. The other females showed no signs of being gravid, but I was content with the one female. On June sixth she layed seven perfect eggs and they are incubating at 86-92 degrees as I write this article.

So if you have a pair of animals you are looking to breed I would strongly suggest that you sex you animals your self. Make sure you are sexing them correctly and if you don’t know how to tell or if you’re nervous about probing, learn from someone that is experienced. It is funny now that I look back that I was trying to breed two females. No wonder I didn’t get any offspring in 99′ but this year was a success. Now I’m a waiting in my opinion the cutest baby snakes in the world the Ball Python (Python regius).

By: Jason A. Patterson


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