Are you looking into breeding ball pythons?
Do you want to make sure all the eggs in your ball python’s clutch have their best chance at hatching?
Ball python eggs are surprisingly durable and have high rates of hatching, but you still want to make sure when you care for them, you have everything set up just right.
Don’t worry if it seems overwhelming; we’ve got your back.
This is exactly why we made this guide for how to incubate ball python eggs.
Ball python eggs do well when incubated in a controlled environment.
Table of Contents
What You’ll Need
This section deals with the items you’ll need to incubate ball python eggs for maximum hatching rate properly.
Egg Incubator – This is the most obvious item you’ll need, but it’s essential.
An egg incubator will give you better control over the temperature and humidity for the eggs.
Consistent settings are needed for the best survival rate.
While it’s possible to make your own incubators, the best and easiest ones to use are those designed specifically for reptiles.
The link heads to our recommended incubator by Zoo Med.
The Reptibator is user-friendly and durable.
Thermometer/Hygrometer – You have to know what the temp and relative humidity is at all times.
Even with a dedicated incubator, these settings fluctuate based on the room and weather of it.
A good thermo/hygro combo will give you this information you need.
We like this one because it’s compatible with a phone app for constant tracking and alerts.
Vermiculite – The eggs need to be kept in some kind of material of medium.
Breeders, both professional and amateur commonly use vermiculite.
Small Knife – This item is optional, but many prefer to use one towards the end of the incubation process. (Read more at step #6.5 below).
While not needed, if you do decide to use one, any clean knife will do, but the sharper, smaller, and better under control, the better for your and the pet’s safety.
Step By Step: How To Incubate Ball Python Eggs
This section goes over the exact steps you need to incubate ball python eggs to hatch safely.
The settings in this guide are not mere recommendations, altering the temperature or humidity may have a drastic impact on the health of your baby pets.
#1 Wait For Laying
The first thing you need to do is wait for the ball python to lay her eggs.
During this time, it’s important to get the incubator set up ahead of time.
The earlier you move the eggs into it, the better.
Female ball pythons can hold onto sperm for a while before allowing herself to get pregnant.
Typically, they begin to show signs of pregnancy 2-3 weeks after pairing with a male.
After the signs show, you’ll notice an extra pre-lay shed.
This shed is followed and preceded by a big gain in thickness.
Thirty days after her shed (this number is almost exact), the female ball python will lay her eggs.
#2 Remove The Mother
After laying her eggs, the ball python mother will wrap herself around the eggs.
In the wild, she’ll incubate the eggs herself, though this isn’t recommended in captivity.
Removing the ball python may seem like a scary and bad idea.
This is especially true as the python will show signs of irritation, including hissing and an open mouth.
Her instincts are usually more self-protective than motherly, so even now, the chance of biting is low.
Move swiftly and smoothly to pick up the ball python.
Consider starting with her tail if she’s wrapped tightly.
Move her back to her tank or another space if she lays in her tank.
#3 Move The Eggs
You’ll notice a single clutch of 6 eggs.
Infertile eggs will be smaller and discolored.
Discard these in the trash.
Larger and softer eggs are fertilized.
When you lift the eggs and move them to the incubator, pay close attention.
Don’t turn the eggs over if possible.
This sometimes results in early death as the growing python is turned over.
Some breeders put a small black dot on the top-side of the eggs.
This lets them know which side is up if they need to move them later on.
This isn’t as needed with older eggs, but it’s a good precaution nonetheless.
Move them carefully one by one into the incubator.
Make sure to move the eggs to their medium.
If the eggs are connected, you should move them together if possible or use tooth floss to cut the eggs apart carefully.
#4 Set The Temperature And Humidity
The ideal temperature is between 88° – 90° degrees Fahrenheit (31° – 32° C).
This temperature should be kept as stable as possible.
A good incubator such as the one we recommended before will keep it as level as possible.
The humidity should be kept up around 60% relative humidity or higher.
Lower humidities cause more problems and should be avoided if at all possible.
Higher humidities don’t actively cause problems except for more mold growth.
But with daily checking (next step), this is managed easily.
Don’t forget to put your meters for measuring the temp and humidity in or near the incubator for accurate readings.
#5 Wait 55-60 Days
Once everything is set, you’re pretty much hands-off until they hatch 55-60 days later.
The main thing you need to do is a daily check.
During this check you need to:
- Check the temp
- Check the humidity
- Look for signs of mold
If you see signs of mold on the eggs, don’t panic. It won’t harm the eggs on the inside unless it gets terrible.
When you see mold, feel free to take a Q tip and gently wipe the mold off.
During this time, you may see an egg “go bad.”
This means the snake inside has died.
Remove the egg if it’s easy to do so.
If the egg is attached to others, just leave it.
It won’t hurt anything.
#6 Enjoy The Hatching!
Towards the end of the time, you’ll notice the eggs start to sink in on themselves.
This is a sign hatching is coming soon.
The ball pythons have an egg tooth they’ll use to break their way out.
Once they’re out, move them to their new homes.
Congrats! You have now hatched ball python eggs.
You may also enjoy learning about how to breed ball python morphs.
#6.5 Cut The Eggs (Optional)
Some breeders like to help the ball pythons alone by cutting the eggs open for the babies.
This avoids the rare occurrence of one drowning inside the egg.
For new breeders, this often results in cutting the eggs too early and killing the snakes anyway.
If you’re going to cut the eggs, wait until two have broken through and then do so carefully.
This should provide enough time for them all to be developed enough.
Commonly Asked Questions
This section answers some questions we receive when talking about incubating ball python eggs.
Can ball pythons incubate their own eggs? – Yes, female ball pythons can incubate their own eggs.
This is a bit harder in captivity as the python likely won’t eat the entire 55-60 days while incubating. In the wild, she preps for this by eating and gaining a lot of weight.
In captivity, if you wish to let your female incubate her eggs, make sure she’s at least four years old and offer a lot of food ahead of time.
How long does it take for ball python eggs to hatch? – Ball python eggs begin to hatch between the 53-55 day range and may take up to 60 days usually.
You’ll know they’re ready to hatch when they start to sag in on themselves.
What month do ball pythons lay eggs? – In the wild, there’s a slightly stronger possibility of females laying eggs in April and June.
However, ball pythons have no specific breeding season and may lay eggs year-round.
Female pythons may even store sperm for months to get pregnant when there is more food.
Check out when breeding season is for ball pythons.
How many eggs can a ball python have? – Unlike some reptiles, ball pythons usually only lay one clutch per pregnancy. In each clutch, there are usually six viable eggs.
How do you know if a ball python is pregnant? – Telling if a female ball python is pregnant is simple.
Look for thickening of her body, less eating at times, and odd behavior, such as lying upside down and wrapping herself around her water dish.
For more details, head over to our article on how to tell if a ball python is pregnant.
Now you know how to incubate ball python eggs.
This is a fun hobby for those who love ball pythons and want to expand on this love.
Remember to get the heat and humidity settings correct and handle with care.
Then, 55-60 days after laying, you’ll have six new baby ball pythons to care for.