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[python regius]
BREEDING-First the animals should have adequate body weight, although females will feed for a while before laying eggs. Next they should be without any respiratory problems. Many snakes that are ill or under the weather, so to speak, don't feel like breeding. Multiple males may be necessary to initiate breeding, however this is not usually necessary. Males do not usually bite when in combat, like some other species, instead tries to pin the others head. The loser may not breed, so if you use multiple males and combat is initiated remove them before one is the loser. The females should be fed well, starting two months before cool down. Well meaning one and a half to two times your regular feeding regimin. Males may be fed on his regular feeding schedule. Fat males are lazy breeders. Two weeks, maybe three, prior to cool down cease feeding. After this period a light reduction from 12 hours to 8 hours can begin. You will want to reduce the daylight by one hour per week with a subsequent drop in temperature at this time also. Night time temps should eventually reach 68-72 at night with a warm up to 82-85 in the day time. Some use a basking spot at night at about 82, others do not. Breeders have noticed these basking spots to be less utilized as the temps drop so they are not necessary. I do not use them unless the snake seems to have difficulty breathing because of the cold temps. These night time temps should be continued for four weeks, after which the snakes should be put together. Males may typically court the females but copulation may not take place. These courtings may stimulate females to start ovulating and not for the purpose of fertilizing the female. After another three weeks together, [4 weeks for lower light and temp levels----four weeks at these temps-----and then three weeks together a total of 11 weeks], remove the male and begin the warm up. These will be normal temeratures you usually keep your snakes. Frequent sprayings with a light mist of water may simulate the rainy season and stimulate breeding. This should be done 3 times a day or more if you have the time. The females should be heavily fed and given extra calcium supplement if you can. After two weeks at normal light and heat levels place the males back with your females. At this time fertile matings should occur. Your female should be ovulating and ready at this time to be fertilized. The male should be left in for a couple of days and then removed. After three days you may place him back with the origional female or place him with another. Either way you want to make sure that each female has been copulated at least twice, preferably three times. The females should be kept singly and given a hot spot of 90-95 to bask in. I have seen ball pythons that were cycled and not in the presence of a male ovulate and not shed their skin. Ovulation will swell the females midsection for about 24 hours. Females will usually shed between 20 and 30 days after fertilized ovulation. Females will usually feed until the shed, and some feed after the shed. Feeding should probably be stopped even if the snake wants to eat because the eggs will start to take up considerable room in the gut and food will be unable to pass. After the shed, egg laying can be predicted to be another 25 - 30 days. A moist hide box should be given to females after they shed. This box will consist of moist vermiculite and moss. Females can become comfortable with these boxes and will therefore lay their eggs in them. If not given a moist box they may lay the eggs in the water dish which may kill them if you do not find them in time. Average clutch of eggs is 5 or 6, however, there may be anywhere between 3 and 13 depending on the size of the female. The eggs should be incubated at 90, at which they should hatch in less than 60 days, usually 53-57. However if incubated at 88 they may take 59-65 days. So it also depends on how well your incubator holds temps. Temps above 92 should be avoided. Lower than 86 or higher than 90 may produce striped ball pythons. These are not genetic but caused by stress. They may produce kinked or still born young at these temps also. Baby ball pythons are about 10 inches in length and are very shy. They will usually feed after the first shed.