Slitherin' Sisters

***a work in progress, bare with me***

Breeding Ball Pythons

I'm going to start off by saying, I'm certainly no expert on breeding, but I have had a few years to live and learn!
Getting started
what you should know before you even begin

Males and Females
First things first, get some males and females! This seems pretty obvious right? Well, I think just about every breeder has bred at least one snake that ended up being a different sex than expected. The first thing you need to do is double check any snakes that aren't proven breeders (have laid eggs or sired a clutch).

I really don't stress about changing temps. My snakes breed just fine when kept at the same temperature, and I certainly don't go through the hassle of dropping temps at night. I'm all for taking the easy road. I do, however, stress about the cool side temps. I do not let my cool side temps drop below 75. I had issues with RIs during breeding season when I let my cool side temps drop to 70, so now they don't drop below 75. In order to keep my cool side temps at 75 I have to run a space heater in the snake room during the winter months. It's on a Ranco (rheostat) that can handle the large amount of wattage a space heater needs.

Breeding temps: 92-93 on the warm side, 75 on the cool side.
Laying temps: 88 on the warm side, 75 on the cool side.

I do change my temps once I see girls getting ready to lay. I'm not sure it's really necessary, but I like the floor of my tub to be the same temp my incubator is set to. That way if the female lays and I don't notice, or I'm out of town, the temps are ideal.
I prefer my females in 41qt tubs during breeding season. This gives them plenty of room to thermoregulate, they know what they need, so give them room! I have bred in 28qt tubs, but I really didn't enjoy it. A friend of mine said he notices more slugs/females who don't lay in 28qt tubs. I'm not sure if that's true for everyone, but I prefer not testing the theory myself.

I don't give my adults or sub-adults hides, so naturally my breeders do not have hides for me to deal with. I'm not sure if it's important to take the hides out, although, it seems like most people do.

I don't change the bedding. They have newspaper all year round. I do give the females aspen if I'm going to be out of town when they are going to lay. I do that in hopes that I can keep the aspen moist enough to keep the humidity up. I tried switching them to aspen one year, but it didn't make a difference. The females tend to lay on the tub floor no matter what you use as bedding.

The females will typically move the substrate out of the way and lay directly on the tub floor. If they don't get it moved out of the way it's not a big deal. The newspaper may stick to the eggs a little, but it won't hurt them.
Age and Weight
This will always be topic of debate. When I first joined the reptile hobby the ideal breeding weight for a female was 1,600-1,700 grams, then it dropped to 1,500 grams, and now 'at least 1,300 grams' comes up quite often. Age definitely plays a big part when talking about weight. I generally go by at least 1,300 grams AND 3 years old. If they make it to 3 years old and are only 1,300 grams (not skinny) then I'll give them a shot. I've tried breeding younger females that were heavier than 1,300 grams, but I haven't had any luck with that.

Males on the other hand breed a lot quicker/smaller. Some will breed very young, although 6 months was the youngest I've got one to breed successfully, and 400-600 grams seems to be enough for young males. Male will typically breed at 1+ years old and 600+ grams.

Let the breeding commence!

When to start....
I typically don't start breeding till October, but this last year I had a female that looked ready and she locked in the beginning of September right after I threw the male in. But, just because you start breeding early doesn't mean you'll get eggs any sooner! That female that locked in September has yet to lay and it's May now.... October always seems like a good time to start, but some females won't start locking until December, so don't be discouraged if you don't see locks right away!

If you have some snakes that are on the thin side you may want to feed them every 3-4 days to bulk them up. I don't worry about bulking up my males, just the females. I prefer my males to be smaller, they seem more eager to breed when they aren't fat. My adult males typically get fed every other week, females once a week.
Your place or mine?
My take on breeding is that the focus should be on the female. Everything I do is based around causing the least amount of stress possible on the female. Let the female stay in her tub and move the male. I think the males are too busy to notice the stress anyhow.

Keep it dirty
The tub hygiene I mean... If the female just shed, leave it in there when you put the male in. Clean the tub when you separate the male and female not before you introduce them. It's also pretty common for the male and/or female to make a disgusting mess when you introduce them. If that happens let them be, unless it's unsafe of course. If they are sitting in a puddle of filth and you think you're risking scale rot by leaving them, clean it up.

If they knock over the water, or make a filthy mess I will leave them until they are unlocked. Sitting in water for half a day isn't going to hurt them. You could also throw in more newspaper to help soak up the extra water.


Properly sexing the babies is a very important part of breeding! I was taught how to pop by a local breeder so that's how I sex ball pythons. It's pretty hard to mistake what you see when you pop, so I'm happy to do it this way! I highly suggest having someone teach you how to sex, whether pop or probe in person. You can damage the sex organs if you don't know what you are doing.

I did a quick video on popping ball python hatchlings to show what you should be looking for in males and females. Hatchlings are very easy to pop! This is a male and female that were a little over a month old.


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