As I enter the 18th season of successfully breeding ball pythons it is of little surprise to me that I am still learning and changing my process and that I still have so much to learn. Looking back I see many constants and trends and a few mistakes along the way. There are three distinct phases to breeding Ball pythons with the first step being successful in getting the snakes to copulate. The next step is to get viable eggs from the females and finally hatching healthy baby snakes from your eggs. I think that once you get the first three steps to work in a predictable order then all you have to do is repeat them every year to be a successful ball python breeder.
Introducing your ball pythons together in order to accomplish copulation
One of the constants in my breeding schedule is the onset of my breeding season. There are many people that breed ball pythons on a year around basis and through the use of ultrasound machines they determine the exact time to introduce a male for a successful breeding. For me the year always starts on the last week of December with the first introduction of males to females in our facilities. Although this date has been the same for at least ten years, the egg laying schedule shifts around from year to year which shows that female ball pythons are keeping their own rhythm regardless of the presence of males. Our year normally ends sometime in mid-June in order to give the males a break and let them regain their optimum body mass and recover from a six month long breeding season.
Egg laying in ball pythons
Every year there are a couple of unexplained early clutches from females that are sometimes not even observed breeding in the previous months. Through comparison of the babies produced and the males used in producing them it has become evident that these early clutches are normally the result of breedings from the previous season. Females have been known to produce fertile clutches up to nine months after having been with a male and it is clear to me that optimum body weight and temperature are a factor in determining when a fertile clutch will be laid. Sperm retention has been observed in other reptile species and Ball Pythons seem to do this as well.
Hatching baby ball pythons
Hatching baby ball pythons successfully and repeatedly seems to be an art and there are many different ways of going about this. Whether you use incubators or maternally incubate your eggs there is still a percentage of babies that will not hatch or go full term and die in the egg. I have seen eggs hatch that were left outside and I have seen eggs hatch in multi thousand dollar incubators. I have also seen eggs buried in the ground in sawdust in Africa and seen eggs hatch in controlled humidity and temperatures in high tech breeding facilities. It ultimately goes to show that nature finds a way and if it’s meant to be you will have a successful breeding season and produce lots of cute little baby ball pythons. At xyzreptiles we are already hatching our first few clutches of the 2016 season and hope that you too are having a great ball python breeding season.