Housing, substrate & feeding

Posted: May 7, 2014 in Uncategorized

This morning, I went through and fed all the snakes.That process took about 2 hours to do. And later today, I will be going through to make sure they ate as well as making sure they have clean cages and fresh water. This daily upkeep ensures that I have maximum breeding success each year. Being out in the building is by far one of my favorite places to be, especially once the babies start to hatch. It is not something I that have ever considered work even though it technically is.

Anyway, to have success breeding your ball pythons, there are a few things that must be met prior to pairing your animals. You need the proper caging, substrate and food for your ball pythons.

I house all of my snakes in the appropriate sized rack system. You can either buy a rack or build one. I have done both over the years and must confess that I prefer to build my own. For one, it is significantly cheaper than buying a rack. A $1,000 budget will go leaps and bounds further if you build rather than buy. That budget would allow you to buy at most a total of 20 adult tubs. Building would allow to do at least double that, if not triple the amount of tub space!

Another reason that I prefer to build my own racks, is that I consider it pretty fun and I feel that I have accomplished something after I complete the project. I will be building a new hatchling rack soon and will be posting about the building process! I am planning on it holding 90 tubs and am expecting to cost me less than $200.00 to build! Talk about savings. That is money I can use to add more balls to the collection or expand the snake building…

Once you decide on  rack system, you need to pick a substrate. I use cypress mulch or newspaper in my cages. Since I let my females maternally incubate their eggs, it is particularly important to use cypress since it holds humidity well. For the eggs to come to term and hatch, they need high humidity which the mulch accomplishes. Here is one of my 2014 clutches that the female is incubating. She had 8 massive eggs again this year and I am hoping for some more Charcoal Mojaves as well as Charcoal Pastaves and Charcoal Pastels from this clutch! Fingers crossed! If you have not heard about the Charcoal Project, it is listed over on the World of Ball Pythons. It is one of my personal projects!

Newspaper or paper towels will work fine for hatchlings or adults not incubating eggs. I will mist my animals anywhere from two to four time a week depending on how wet or dry the cage appears. This baby spider ball python pictured below had just hatched when this pic was taken. I setup new babies on paper for a few weeks before switching to mulch.

In regards to feeding my ball pythons, I have a set schedule for them. The babies will eat once a week with the larger ones eating every 8 to 10 days. I feed them weekly until they are 500 grams then they go to the other feeding schedule after that. The majority of my ball pythons eat live rats or mice, which I raise myself.

I do not believe in overfeeding or power-feeding my ball pythons. It is not healthy and I have have found that obese ball pythons will not breed well. Fat snakes are not healthy snakes. I have found over the years that obese females are more likely to have bad eggs and obese males are likely to be poor breeders, if they will even breed.

In 2005 I was given a very large female ball python who had literal “fat rolls”. I kid you not. This snake was fed…and then some if you know what I mean. When the female later had eggs, all 8 were duds. After that, I spoke to several breeders who suggested she was too fat and that I should cut back on how often I feed her. I did that and in 2008 she had  a perfect clutch of eggs!

I could go on and on, but I now have to get back out to the snake building! Comment below with any future topic suggestions!





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