This was my second breeding season and I’ve had deaths from all 3 clutches now. I have had 1 or 2 from each clutch leave the egg and just die right outside it. My incubator was 89* and I didn’t open it hardly at all. I’m not using any genes that are incompatible. My egg box substrate is clumping and I use press and seal. Last season I had zero deaths and this time around my incubator is better yet 5-6 deaths right after hatching. Is this normal? It seems like more than I should expect. A couple of them also had what I think is yolk that wasn’t absorbed, it looked like guts coming out of their bellies. I didn’t cut the eggs until 2 pipped on their own however, they pipped on day 49 wich seems a little early. Any input on the subject is appreciated, thanks!
Sorry to hear what you have been going through this season. Have you checked the temperatures inside the incubator with a temp gun or something similar? I know my incubator will run slightly hotter than thermostat is set. I set mine at 86 and it runs at 87 most the day with about a half degree drop at night. I check my incubator once a week with a temp gun to double check the temps. Sound to me if they pipped on day 49 the incubator is to hot or may have a hot spot inside that air is trapped or not circulating. That would be the first thing I would check. 89 is on the upper side of incubation temps for ball pythons but still in the good range. I do not have the vast knowledge that others on this platform have. I would wait for them to chime in with their knowledge.
I agree with c_nichols. Sounds too hot. Definitely need more information here.
-What kind of incubator is it?
-How is it heated?
-Where is the probe?
-How are your egg boxes being stacked?
If there’s no fan in the incubator and you’re not leaving the probe on top of or inside one of the highest up boxes, your temps may be off enough to cause egg death and premature hatching. Day 49 is really early.
The unabsorbed yolk and umbilical cord can be a bit eerie looking but it does look like a large mass and intestine until it fully absorbs and detaches. I’ve had a few crawl out with a bit still attached. It’s usually not a problem if you keep them in the incubator on the hatch substrate or a damp paper towel until they shed. I would take out the light diffuser if you’re using one to keep the eggs raised though as the cord can get caught and tugged. Be more delicate when handling if you need to move them and make sure not to let the unabsorbed yolk dangle in the air as it can weigh down/cause injury.
Have to agree with both @armiyana & @c_nichols something must be off temp wise 49 is to early to pip. I keep mine at 88.5 and temp fluctuations are around 1-2 either way so similar to your temps and the earliest I had pip is 56 days I always cut when the pip or 58 days. Never had any come out early, did have one come out on its own on day 56 with some umbilical cord, but kept humid no issues. Is the air maybe too stagnant, not getting circulated enough creating hot spots in incubator? Sorry for your loss, occasionally hatchlings can die but that’s a lot. Very sorry for ya!
I only had one this year crawl out of the egg and die, but he appeared to be extremely undersized and his yolk had partially hardened (these eggs were molding and looked pretty ugly most of incubation)
But it does sound like your incubator is running hot, as others have said — so I’d definitely check to see what’s going on with that!
The baby I had pass away (he is deceased in the pictures so they are blurred, you can see just how small he is compared to his siblings)
In addition to a thermostat, I use two thermometers in my setup. You can use the wireless type like SensorPush (its awesome) or you can use the type with wired probes.
Take the first thermometer probe and run it in parallel with the thermostat probe. You want to see how much (if any) discrepancy between the temperatures being read by the probes. Make sure that the probes are clean (rubbing alcohol is a good cleaner) and that the thermometer has fresh batteries. Typically I am ok with seeing a 0.5 degree variance or less.
Set up one extra tub the same way you set it up for eggs. Same amount of vermiculite, perlite, water, etc. Drill a small hole in the middle of the sidewall for the probe of the second thermometer. Push the probe inside the dummy box and cover the hole with strong tape like Gorilla.
You are now monitoring in three locations - the thermostat setting, the ambient inside the incubator, and the internal temp of the egg box. This information should be enough to let you know if something is really off with your equipment.
I started doing this several years ago when I had an incubation temp issue. I was not incubating at the temperature that I thought I was and I had a BEL hatch out at like day 44. She made it through the ordeal and now she is a 2000g+ monster and one of my most dependable breeders, but I always make sure that I have 3-4 monitoring points in my incubators.
I also had a very small hatchling with an unabsorbed yolk. This little one looks like it had a failed twin attached to the same yolk cause it had a weird fleshy mass on it too. He’s weighing in at 27grams.
The other siblings are all 59gr and above.
I’d try a lower incubator temp, I know myself and others have a lot of success in the 84-86 range. It takes a little longer to hatch, but produces nice fat healthy babies.
I’m also in the camp that tries to avoid cutting, because it can get them out of the eggs before they are truly ready to, but that’s my preference.
Wow thanks for all these replies! So my incubator is made from an igloo ice chest using heat tape. My probe is on the heat tape. I use a separate thermometer to read the temps inside at the level my egg boxes are sitting and I test an egg box to make sure it is the same temp inside. I’ll try lowering the temp a bit next time around, I was under the impression that 89 was the sweet spot but I guess not. Where I think I messed up is the air circulation, I don’t have a fan inside the incubator. I’ve seen that some people do but I didn’t know it was that crucial.
Also, none of the babies seem small, they look fine but I’ve just had an unusual amount of them fail to thrive.
I’m actually using a similar setup but I specifically set my thermostat to the probe inside of my eggbox.
No fan. I was only cooking one clutch at the time though.
Multi clutch would be a bit trickier in the icebox and the fan would probably be more crucial to avoid hot pockets and such from developing.
89 kinda is the magic number but it’s also easier to have something hit over 92 at that point which can cause more of the issues like premies, deformities and egg death.
I ran mine at 87 for this year. The new incubator I’m getting may be tested and run at 89 next year if I get it up early enough. It’ll be a fully insulated w/fan type
Thanks for such an in depth response, I really appreciate it!