Are you interested in breeding snakes (for fun or money)?
Are you new to the world of breeding and curious to learn more before you get started?
It’s not something everyone should take on, but it’s a fun extension of owning a pet snake.
We’re here to help you with this quick guide on how to breed snakes.
Breeding snakes require male and female snakes of proper mating age, an understanding of the importance of brumation and handling techniques, and adequate resources to support new eggs and offspring. Expose the male and female snakes at the right time depending on species and track parentage.
While there are many necessary steps to undertake before you get started, snake breeding is possible with the right knowledge and resources.
What Snakes Are Easy To Breed?
There are many snakes out there on the market, so it’s essential to know which snakes you want to start breeding.
The easiest snakes to breed are ball pythons, corn snakes, milk snakes, king snakes, and gopher snakes, especially as a beginner.
Corn snakes must be 18 to 24 months old to breed.
Milk snakes become sexually mature around 3 years old, with female snakes requiring a length of about 3′ feet (.9 m) before mating.
King snakes are ready at an age anywhere from 18 months to 3 years old.
Gopher snakes are sexually mature around two years of age.
Male ball pythons must be at least one year old while female ball pythons must wait until closer to three years of age.
How To Induce Breeding
To prepare your snakes for breeding, you must induce a period of brumation, which is a reptile’s equivalent of hibernation.
In the wild, brumation is a period of decreased activity during colder seasons.
Once spring starts, the snakes will come out of brumation and be ready for mating season.
In captivity, you need to create these artificial, colder temperatures.
A snake’s enclosure is typically between 80 to 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C) with around 12 hours of light a day.
For brumation, temperatures should below 80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C) depending on species, with the amount of light decreased to about 8 hours per day.
You’ll notice a decrease in activity levels during this time.
Remember, though, the snake still needs to be fed about every two weeks, as they are still more active than an animal would be in hibernation.
The process of brumation can last anywhere from one to three months, depending on the species of snake.
Once this process is complete, you should resume the standard heating and lighting settings.
You’ll notice your snake will become hungrier than usual, so it’s time to feed them more regularly to aid in strengthening them before the breeding process begins.
Before placing the male and female snakes together, you may need to rile up your male snake to get him ready for the mating process.
Get this done by placing a few male snakes together.
Their competitive energy will ignite and make them more active and likely to mate.
Now you are ready to introduce the male and female snakes.
Place them together in one cage.
The male will take note of the female and approach.
Don’t be alarmed if they demonstrate aggressive behavior, as this is perfectly normal.
It will take some time for them to become comfortable.
Once mating has started, it can take anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of days for the process to be complete.
During this time, it’s essential to give these snakes their space and privacy.
Once they have finished, you should separate the two snakes again.
Generally, a male snake will need at least a week of rest and recovery before it is ready to mate again.
How Can I Tell If A Snake Is Pregnant?
After you’ve completed all the steps necessary for mating and fertilization, it’s time to monitor your female snake for signs, which indicate the process has successfully resulted in pregnancy.
How can you tell if a snake is gravid?
You could take the snake to a vet and have her accessed using ultrasonography, but this is an expensive and time-consuming process.
Alternatively, pay attention to your snake for subjective signs of pregnancy.
There are several indicators which will clue you into knowing your snake is gravid.
One of the most obvious changes is developing a bulbous midsection, similar to the baby bumps we see in human pregnancies.
The snake will swell up, and her scales will stretch out to accommodate the change in shape.
An obvious distention of the belly is an easy way to notice your snake is now gravid.
Another potential change is a color shift. Pay attention to the color of your snake’s scales.
Sometimes the contrast between the darker and lighter scales increases, while other snakes will change the color of their scales entirely.
This is not a definitive sign, but it is still something to note.
Gravid snakes will also shed their skin quickly, usually about a week after becoming gravid.
For these reasons, pay attention to the scales and coloring of your female snake after you’ve started the entire process.
Watch the behavior of your female snake.
As she nears the stage of egg-laying, she’ll become more active around her enclosure, searching for the perfect place to lay her eggs.
Certain species have very distinct gravid behavior, such as pythons, which lie on their backs when gravid.
If you have a reasonable suspicion your snake is pregnant, you should stop introducing the male and instead prepare for some baby snakes.
Ensure there’s a good location in the habitat for egg-laying, which would be a warm and damp hidden area.
You want to introduce an opaque, lidded container with an access hole on the side.
Create this on a budget using a shoebox or ice cream container with a hole cut out.
This way, the snake can easily access the area via the hole, and you will able to monitor progress by lifting the lid.
How Long Are Snakes Pregnant?
The gestational period for female snakes is mainly dependent on its breed.
Viviparous and ovoviviparous snakes, which give birth to live babies, will be pregnant for at least three months before giving birth.
In oviparous snakes, which are egg-laying snakes, the gestational period can last one to two months.
A good indication to tell you the snake is nearing completion is a recent shed; depending on the snake species, the female will generally lay her eggs soon after shedding.
Python species will generally lay their eggs about 2 weeks after shedding, while corn snakes, milk snakes, and king snakes can take anywhere from one to four weeks to lay eggs after shedding.
How Do I Care For Eggs And Baby Snakes?
Once the mama snake has laid the eggs (or, in the case of boa constrictors, given birth to live snakes), you must separate the two.
Carefully move the snake away from her eggs; she will likely get defensive, but you must be firm in the removal.
You should then move the eggs to an incubator and wait for them to hatch.
The incubator should have a temperature around 90° degrees Fahrenheit (32° C), and you should check on them once a week to ensure they’re still healthy and intact.
The amount of time for the eggs to hatch will vary based on the snake species; for boa constrictors, for example, it will take around 55 to 60 days for the eggs to hatch.
In the case of live baby snakes or freshly hatched snakes, you need to provide a source of water and humidity.
It will take around a week for them to begin shedding, after which you should transfer them to their separate containers with bedding and water bowls.
After they’ve reached the age of about two weeks, you should begin to feed them.
Interesting Facts About Snake Pregnancy
Snake reproduction is a fascinating process with many nuances which separate it from other species of animals.
For example, female snakes can retain sperm within themselves for a few years at a time.
They have two separate sperm pockets: one meant for immediate reproduction and the other for delayed reproduction.
They have control of whether or not they want to become pregnant after mating.
In fact, they can hold onto the sperm for several different males.
They can choose to fertilize themselves at any stage of this process using whichever sperm they want to utilize.
One clutch of young could contain offspring with different “fathers” for each.
Some breeds of snake also can reproduce asexually in a process known as parthenogenesis.
In these breeds, female snakes can create other female offspring with the exact same genetic makeup as the mother.
Breeding snakes is an incredibly rewarding experience, and now you know a little more about how to breed snakes.
Whether you are looking to breed snakes for profit or as a fun hobby, there are plenty of ways to get started.
Just make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and be prepared with the right knowledge and resources to get the task done.