To breed snakes you first need to know where the snake is native to, or at least the general region. If it is from a part of the world where the environment changes with the seasons, like the North American continent, then it will most likely need to be hibernated to successfully breed. If it is from a more tropical region such as places around the equator, chances are that it doesn’t need to be hibernated and you can skip the section on hibernating your snake.
Before hibernating your snake you need to make sure that your snake is in very good condition or you run the risk of your snake dying while you are trying to hibernate it. You need to make sure that the snake is healthy and it isn’t anything wrong with it. If your snake is in the best condition it can possibly be in, you can then continue on with the process. The next step is to stop feeding your snake for about 3 weeks before you actually begin cooling the enclosure.
At this time you should be setting up a hibernation chamber for the snake to stay in. Most breeders do not keep their snakes in their normal cage, but instead prepare a semi-large container for the snake to stay in. The cage still needs to have a locking lid because the snake will still move around, for this reason you will also need to keep a water bowl filled with water at all times during the hibernation time. The enclosure should be kept relatively dark while the snake is hibernating. It should have at least 5-10 inches of a substrate that the snake is able to burrow in. A good substrate for this is corncob bedding or something similar. The enclosure should be kept at most 60 degrees F, the ideal temperature being about 55 degrees F.
However, before you actually put the snake in the enclosure you should do the following:
- First, the week before you start lowering the temperature, you should start giving your snakes daily baths in warm water to help get the waste out of their systems. It is very important to have no waste left in the snakes because during hibernation, leftover waste can actually harm or even kill them.
- After this week is up, the next thing to do is to place the snake in the new hibernation chamber that you have already set up. You should then start lowering the temperature by a few degrees everyday until the desired temperature is reached, which should be no more than 60 degrees, but the best temperature is about 55 degrees F. The snakes will be kept like this for about two months (8 weeks), although some breeders can get snakes to successfully breed after six weeks, the recommended number of weeks is eight.
- After this period of eight weeks is over, you should then start returning the temperature back to whatever it was before hibernation by increasing the temperature by a few degrees everyday. Once the temperature you want has been reached you can put the snake back into its regular enclosure.
- At this time, males and females should be separated. After about a week, try offering food. After another two-three weeks, the female will usually shed, giving you the signal that it is time to put the pair together.
- You should introduce the female into the male’s enclosure, which generally works better. You should try and monitor the proceedings if you are dealing with cannibalistic snakes such as kingsnakes and milksnakes.
- You can then separate the pair after they have mated and try again a few days later to ensure that the female lays a good clutch of eggs.
Eggs & Young
Depending on your snake you may end up with eggs or live, but tiny babies. If you end up with babies in a few months you are pretty much through the hard parts (except maybe getting the young to feed). If not, you will have to incubate the eggs.
When you know that it is time for your particular snake to lay eggs you should put a plastic container, large enough for the female to enter, into her cage. It should have a hole cut in the lid to allow her to enter and lay her eggs. It should also have a substrate such as sphagnum moss or vermiculite. After the eggs have been laid, you can then just switch lids with a lid that has tiny holes poked into it. The eggs should never be turned because it most likely will kill the unborn baby snake. The eggs can then be placed in a reptile-egg incubator. The desired temperature will vary depending on the type of snake. If everything goes well, you are only left with the care of the newly hatched/born snakes!