How to breed ball pythons

Butter Ball Python Breeding a Pastel Ball PythonThis is just a quick overview on how to breed ball pythons.? Just about anyone can breed ball pythons to a degree (just have a lot around the web and you’ll find a hundred self-proclaimed experts) just breeding ball pythons isn’t the goal, the goal is having as much success as possible. If you’re looking for detailed instructions on each element of breeding please see some of the other breeding articles on this site as this is just a basic overview.

For this article I’ll cover the basics like:

  • Pre Breeding Conditioning
  • Temperature cycling your ball pythons for breeding.
  • Rotating males through females.
  • Breeding behavior

In order to be successful in breeding your animals you must be sure you do in fact have a male and a female ball python. Yes, this sounds very obvious, but I can’t tell you how many experienced breeders have attempted to breed two males or vice versa because they either incorrectly sexed an animal or they bought a missexed animal on error. Heck, I’ve done it myself so I know it can and does happen. If you’re not confident on determining the sex of your animal(s) seek the help of an experienced local breeder or reptile veterinarian.
 

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Pre Breeding Conditioning

Now that you have healthy male and female snakes lets talk a little bit about getting these animals in shape to breed. Ball pythons can and do breed year around in captivity, but I’ve had the best success cycling my animals to breed based on the seasons. With that, breeding season runs from October/November all the way through May/June sometimes a litter earlier sometimes a little later, just depends on the animals. One important factor in determining your success in May/June is how to condition your animals in the Summer and Fall months. During these summer and falls months I feed my female ball pythons as much as they’ll possibly eat which typically comes out to be 2-3 rats a week, but that’s of course not set in stone. The goal during these months is to put as much weight on these females as possible. It’s not healthy to power feed your breeder snakes. Since they are actively involved in the breeding process they will expend tons of calories during the breeding season and those females that go on to lay egg will surely need the extra weight for egg development.

Temperature Cycling for the Breeding Season

You’ve been pounding those females all summer and now it’s time to start cycling temperatures to get these snakes to take notice of the changing season. Instinctively they’re programmed to switch over to breeding mode during these months of the of the year (Oct/Nov through Spring) because it’s the optimal time for the young hatchlings to find food and shelter in the wild and therefore have a much better chance at survival.

Starting in late October or early November I start my temperature drops. I go from giving the animals constant heat of 24/7 down to 12 hours of normal daytime heat which is the same daytime temperature I use all year 85-87 degrees and 12 hours of night time heat drop of just a degree or two that first week of the ball python breeding season. I continue to drop the night time temps every week or two until I reach a low of about 78-80 degrees. I hold that 12/12 hour schedule until the beginning of April where I start to bring the temps back up to normal off season temps of 24/7 of 86-87 degrees for the heat spot. In my opinion it’s very important and raise temperatures gradually because if you increase the temps too quickly you run the risk of rushing the female ball pythons into a premature ovulation which ultimately ends in that female producing a bad clutch of eggs for the year.

Rotating males through females

Everybody has their own method of rotating reptiles for breeding purposes, I