New Breeder (Can't find answers!)

Hi there, I’m a new breeder and I’m looking for some help from experienced breeders about the breeding process. (I did look for another thread that might have this information but came up empty, so I made my own)

I’ve done a lot of research on breeding pythons, and I thought I had a good understanding. But then when my female failed to lay around the time we expected, I went back to the drawing board and did more research. The problem is, the more research I do into breeding Ball Pythons the more confused I become.

So many sources conflict, and I have absolutely no idea which sources to believe. Now I feel the best way to understand breeding is to ask those with personal experience! I understand (from research at least) that it can be hard to really understand the process until you’ve been through it a few times. I’m just trying to understand the process enough to get my incubator set-up on time and ensure the best care for my female and male during the breeding season.

Okay, so I guess providing some information on my breeding pair should be a good idea:
I have a five year old male (950g) and a four year old female (1500g). They are both proven and provided their previous owners with a clutch a year prior to us receiving them (the eggs were never hatched).
They first locked back in August, just before we picked them up. Previous owners told us from their experience we could expect the female to lay in September. Factoring in the change and move, we didn’t really expect her to lay so soon.
The male and female were originally kept together (as the previous owners had them) but as soon as my new terrarium arrived I separated them. Since the first lock in August, there have been at least 7 confirmed locks, with many more possible locks. Our female shed back in September (back then I though it was pre-lay shed but now I realise at best it would be pre-ovulation shed, and was most likely just a normal shed).
I’ve read about feeling for follicles in a female, but I don’t know what I’m feeling for and my female is quite temperamental (most days she rather bite me than let me in her enclosure. Please note this is her personality and is a consistent behaviour).
At this point I have no idea if I should keep encouraging the two to lock, or if I’ve missed vital signs of ovulation in our female.

I’ve tried researching how often, for how long, and over what time period a male and female should be breeding, but I can’t find a solid answer! Some suggest breeding every 3 days (this seems excessive to me) but not for how long. Some suggest breeding once a month. When do I stop? I know males can die from over breeding, so I do keep a close eye on both their weights and both of them have only gained weight since we started breeding. But I’m very confused and desperate for some guidance!

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

2 Likes

I don’t know if this will help any. Unfortunately you will get many different answers here as well. As not all snakes are the same and not all breeders find the same thing works for them.
Size and age are good. Locks don’t always = eggs. The move could have been enough for her to absorb them. Locks when no follicles won’t produce anything.
I picked up a female once that had locked prior to receiving it, and had several locks after and she did not produce. And this was also a proven breeder. Just because nothing happened, it doesn’t mean that you did anything wrong or that there is anything wrong with the snakes.

5 Likes

This is helpful, thank you!

But, how do you know when your female has follicles?

Some breeders breed year round some only certain times of the year. Palpation or ultrasound are the only way to know when. Some will say behavior will give you a clue. But you will have to watch closely and often or you could miss it. Again, depending on the snake. You can find videos on YouTube for how to check. Personally I just start paring in August, leave them together for 3 days then skip a week sometimes longer and keep this going for a couple months. I do skip a cycle if the male did not eat the following feeding. I don’t pair several males with one female, I keep the same pair together for that year.

2 Likes

This is a good pictoral that gives a lot of good info on breeding. There is a lot more to it that just locks and then eggs. I hope this helps. If you have any questions feel free to ask
https://ballpython.ca/breeding/

4 Likes

Thanks for the link! Yes I should have mentioned she’s been showing signs on and off for building, ovulation, etc. She is confusing me! I think we may be in ovulation now (was wrong last time though), but I suppose only time will tell.

Thanks again for the help.

As for how often. I havent paired since early Spring. One clutch hatched in early October, 2 more in the incubator and 1 due to lay on Christmas day. Last year my big pinstripe used retained sperm ftom 2019… the sire to the baby has been dead since late 2019.

Some pair 3 on 4 off cycles. Some pair once a shed cycle in my case life has us at a pause and everyone decided to give babies… i breed year around ( normally) as i have an ultrasound machine, i can watch follicle growth. I am also small only 8 breeder size females.

I wonder, you use human ovulation kits? Just dunk it in her pee?

No, this would not work, as far as I am aware.