Many snake enthusiasts and pet owners are interested in learning more about captive snake breeding. Breeding Snakes is a complex process but can be extremely rewarding if you have the correct information.
If you would like to breed your snakes there are several steps you should take. The steps are all outlined below. Feel free to send us more information if you would like to add it to the description we have below:
- Lay Box –
- container(s) for incubator
- lotrimin powder (antifungal powder)
- egg incubator
- laying substrate (pearlight (a little cleaner), vermiculite ,tropical soil mixed with moss)
- egg incubation material (Perlite, or vermiculite (mix with roughly 50% water))
- marker (to mark the top of the eggs)
- temperature probe
- frozen pinky mice(for first feed after hatching)
One of the first steps you will need to take is to determine which sex your animals are.
In many cases if you own captive bred species you should easily be able to know what sex your animals are right from the time of purchase.
With wild caught species, and newborn species it is often necessary to physically determine the sex by checking your snakes.
In some snake families the tail is longer and stouter in the males. The most common method however is to probe the the snake with a sexing probe.
When they are not sexually active the hemipenes of the mail snake lie inverted in a sheath situated in the base of the tail just posterior to the vent.
By inserting a probe into the vent and pushing it gently in the direction of the tail tip it is possible to pass it inside up to ten subcaudal scales in males, but normally only two or three scales in the females.
Determine The Reproductive Cycles Of The Species
After determining whether or not you have both a male and female of the same species the next step is to find out the natural reproductive cycles of your particular species.
Depending on the origin and type of snakes you are attempting to breed they may need unique conditions in order to stimulate the reproductive cycle.
This is often completed by adjusting the temperatures and light period levels to match the natural conditions. Most snake species breed once per year upon reaching sexual maturity.
The best way to stimulate breeding in your snakes is to closely match the natural reproductive cycles of your species in its natural habitat.
Once you have stimulated the correct reproductive cycle for your species the next thing you need to do is introduce at least one male and one female to one another.
Often it is best to keep male and females apart until you are ready to stimulate the breeding cycle as most snakes in the wild are most commonly solitary for the majority of the year.
In the wild several males will often converge on a receptive female after following her scent trail.
Once the snakes are ready to mate the male will often entwine his body with the female and copulation can take place within 30 minutes and often up to several hours to complete.
If your female has been successfully mated the fertilized eggs will normally start to develop in the lower part of the oviduct where they will continue develop for a short or long period (depending on the species).
Snakes may fall into two seperate categories, oviparous and ovoviviparious. Oviparous snakes (the majority of snake species) fall into the egg layers category.
Livebearing species often take much longer to develop inside the females, often upwards of 100 days before the babies are born.
Preparing Your Enclosure For Incubation
Once your species has laid there eggs inside a humid and temerature controlled area within your enclosure it is often best to remove the eggs and place them into an inclubator to ensure proper incubation.
Freshly laid eggs will often be a milky white colour and appear elongated and possess a soft leathery finish.
Eggs laid within the terrarium or egg laying chambers should be carefully removed (preferably, always kept the same way up) and buried inside hollows about half the diameter of the thickness of the eggs within your incubator.
The substrate used can be a mixture of vermiculite or mulch and should be slightly moist to the touch. Most species eggs should develop properly in temperatures ranging from 25-30 degrees celsius.
Temperature will often determine the sex of the species as with most other reptiles. The incubation period for most species ranges from 40-70 days.
At an average temperature in the range of 25-30 degrees celsius there should be a fairly even mixture of both male and female species as is true in the natural conditions.
Hatching And Care Of Young Snakes
During incubation, eggs should be closely monitored to determine the fertility of them. Infertile eggs (often seen by shrivelling) should be removed promptly to avoid contaminating nearby eggs.
Young snakes should be housed in small ventilated containers such as plastic lunch boxes or small plastic terrariums.
The containers can be kept within a suitably heated room or within an existing heated terrarium. Climatic environments should coincide with those of the species in questions natural conditions.
A small hiding box, small dish of fresh water and a substrate of absorbent paper can be used for the first few days after birth.
As the snakes begin to grow, often within one week a suitably sized food item can be introduced to the snake. Be sure however not to overfeed juvenile snakes as this could lead to obesity and deformation.
Snake Breeding Overview (Video)
Frequently asked questions
- Is there a safe way to treat moldy, but viable, eggs?
- Tinactin antifungal spray should be lightly spritzed upon the egg until the spray has consumed the mold
- How long do snake eggs take to hatch?
- Incubation periods vary from 40-70 days depending on the type of snake you have.
- How many eggs can a snake lay (clutch size)?
- Clutch sizes also vary by snake species but are in the range of 10-30 eggs.
Breeding your snakes can be a challenging activity, but if you manage the process well, it can be a very rewarding thing.
So, over to you! Have you bred your snakes before? Let us know how snake breeding has gone for you in the comments below!