Individuals who keep pet snakes, such as the Ball python, often decide to enter the field of breeding these animals to support their hobby. While the Ball Python is not the most difficult snake in the constrictor family of snakes to breed, there are special considerations that must be taken into account when breeding these reptiles. By understanding the special needs of the Ball Python, breeders are able to ensure better results from their breeding strategies.
Ball Python breeding season normally starts in the month of November and ends in the month of January. While it is possible to create a successful Ball Python breeding operation with just a male and female snake of the species, exotic pet breeders are more likely to see success by alternating a variety of male snakes through the females cage during the breeding season. For the best success rates, the snakes should be of appropriate breeding age, with males being six months or older and females being 18 months or older.
To ensure successful Ball Python breeding and the continued health of the breeding stock, it is important to maintain periods of rest and feeding for both male and female snakes during the breeding season. The snakes should be separated once a week to allow time for feeding and recuperation from strenuous breeding activities. This is particularly important in the case of the male snake, which may be used to breed multiple females during the season, something which rarely happens in nature.
Ball Pythons are tropical snakes and, for proper Ball Python breeding, the snakes enclosures should meet certain environmental standards. During the breeding season, the night time temperature of the enclosures should be allowed to drop to the 70° to 75° Fahrenheit (21° to 24° Celsius) range. Lighting should also be turned off at night to stimulate the natural physical responses of these snakes. These tasks can be handled easily by using timers or photo-relay switches to turn heat and lighting on at sunrise and off at sunset.
The enclosure should also contain a substrate that is suitable for Ball Python breeding. These snakes typically lay four to eight eggs with a soft, leathery shell in Mid-March to August. The eggs are deposited in a clutch, directly on the substrate so maintaining proper moisture levels for the nesting area is very important. To facilitate this, some breeders use vermiculite mixed with water. The substrate should clump together but have no excess water present to avoid damaging the eggs. This substrate provides a soft place for the female to create a nest and deposit her eggs.
Once the eggs have been laid, breeders may choose to remove them from the female's enclosure and incubate the eggs to guard against losses for their Ball Python breeding operation. Incubators are kept at a temperature of 89° Fahrenheit (32° Celsius) and the clutches of eggs are generally kept together in a plastic hatching box containing the substrate of vermiculite and water. The eggs should be carefully monitored for dehydration, which can be seen by indentations appearing in the shell. If dehydration becomes a problem, adding additional moisture to the incubator can often save the eggs if it is noticed early enough.