Do you want to learn more about the life of snakes?
Are you interested in breeding snakes as an extension of this already-fun hobby?
Breeding snakes is a big topic, so it’s best to start with the basics.
First, you need to ask:
When is mating season for snakes?
Snake species in temperate environments mate when they wake up from brumation in spring. Tropical snakes mate year-round. Other factors like health, environment, snake species, and available prey will also determine when and how often a snake mates in the wild.
What Age Do Snakes Start To Mate?
With a few exceptions, snakes reach sexual maturity around two to three years old.
Whether they mate will also depend on their overall health and nutrition.
Only the healthiest females will choose to mate at any given time, as it is entirely their decision.
What Is Mating Season Like For Snakes?
In temperate environments, snakes will start to look for mates in early spring, after their winter brumation.
This generally means a snake will lay fertilized eggs or give birth during the summer months when temperatures are highest, and snakes are most active.
Tropical snakes do not have to worry about this timing and will therefore mate year-round.
Both male and female snakes tend to lose their appetite when looking for mates.
They are devoting most of their energy to looking for a mate, not hunting or foraging.
Healthy females will put out pheromones to draw attention from male snakes.
Males become aggressive with each other, and with females, during mating season.
Play fights between snakes for the attention of a female are very common.
However, the ultimate decision to mate is up to the female.
Once the female has chosen, mating takes between an hour to a whole day.
After mating, the two snakes will split off.
No bond forms between mating snakes, like it does with other animals.
Mating may occur once or twice a year, depending on the snakes’ health and other factors.
Some snakes may only reproduce every three years.
In most snake species, only two snakes mate at once, twisting around each other.
However, some species, like garter snakes, water snakes, and anacondas, engage in mating balls.
Hundreds of male snakes could be twisted around one female, taking turns to mate.
The female then decides which male’s sperm she wants to use to fertilize her eggs.
Some snakes reproduce asexually through parthenogenesis.
Parthenogenesis for snakes means females do not need sperm fertilization to create embryos out of their eggs.
This is rare in the animal world, and only a few snake species are known to reproduce without mating.
Once she has mated, a female snake will hold sperm in her body for up to fifteen months before fertilizing her eggs.
You can learn more about snakes holding sperm here.
She may also lose her appetite while she is pregnant, or, in snake terms, gravid.
Depending on the species, a snake will give oviparous, ovoviviparous, or viviparous birth.
Oviparous birth means the mother snake lays eggs, and they hatch outside of her body.
Ovoviviparous means the mother carries the eggs inside of her body, and they hatch inside her.
The young then emerge from her body.
Viviparous means live birth, with the young developing inside a membrane inside the mother.
Recently, experts have observed there are more snakes with mothering or brooding behaviors than first thought.
While some will leave their young or eggs to fend for themselves, some mothers will stay with their eggs or young up to their first skin shed cycle.
Check out our list of snakes that give live birth that includes pictures and some cool facts.
How Do I Help My Snake Through Mating Season?
If you are not planning to breed your snakes, the only thing you may have to worry about during breeding season is your snake losing its appetite.
It is still important to offer them food, even if they turn up their noses at it.
You may want to switch to a smaller prey during this time. Snakes can go weeks without food.
You should weigh them about once a week to make sure they are not losing too much weight.
If your pet goes without food for over a month, contact your veterinarian.
Your snake may also become more aggressive during the breeding season.
Make sure to approach with caution.
If you are interested in snake breeding, you need to consider several environmental controls and physical factors.
Make sure your snakes are at a proper weight and in good health before deciding to breed them.
Induce a cooling period.
Since most snakes are prompted to mate by a temperature rise and increase in ambient light, you will want to cool down and darken your snakes’ enclosures for two to three months.
Check appropriate temperatures and humidity for your specific species, as the proper temperatures for brumation will vary.
Make sure they are not fed for two weeks before you induce a brumation.
Leaving food in their digestive systems over brumation will let it rot, which will kill your snakes.
Rouse your snakes every fifteen days or so during this cool period to let them have a drink of water.
Warm your snake at normal temperatures for a couple of days before feeding it a couple of smaller prey items.
Make sure your snake has digested these items before feeding it anything larger.
We recommend waiting until after your snakes’ post-hibernation shed before putting them in the same enclosure.
Mating may last for several days.
Separate the two snakes after they have finished.
Keep in mind not all female snakes breed once a year, especially not larger snakes.
Once your female snake has laid her eggs, put them in a temperature and humidity-controlled incubator.
Give your female snake more meals after egg-laying.
We hope you have enjoyed learning more about snake mating season.
Most snakes will start mating once they emerge from their winter brumation.
As long as they are healthy and well-fed, they may mate once or twice in any given breeding season.
If you are planning to breed your snakes, make sure you do your research and maintain your pets’ well-being and health.