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  1. #11
    Don't Push My Buttons JLC's Avatar
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    Re: Maternal Incubation

    I've stickied this because it is the most reasonable and comprehensive article I've ever read for maternal incubation in ball pythons. Thank you!!

    As was stated in the article, there are pros and cons to both methods. There are certainly very good reasons why people will choose to use incubators and maintain all the control. There's NO reason to start an argument in THIS thread about the differences between the two or exclaim that one method is better than another. THIS thread is filled with information that most folks who may be interested in maternal incubation have a hard time finding. Let's keep it that way, please.

    If you want to debate which is a better method...start a new thread.
    -- Judy

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  3. #12
    BPnet Senior Member Mike Cavanaugh's Avatar
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    Re: Maternal Incubation

    Quote Originally Posted by JLC View Post
    There are certainly very good reasons why people will choose to use incubators and maintain all the control. There's NO reason to start an argument in THIS thread about the differences between the two or exclaim that one method is better than another. THIS thread is filled with information that most folks who may be interested in maternal incubation have a hard time finding. Let's keep it that way, please.

    If you want to debate which is a better method...start a new thread.
    Understood Judy. This is a good write up on Maternal Incubation... The oposing opinion and "debate" thread can be found here:

    http://ball-pythons.net/forums/showt...66#post1658866
    Last edited by Mike Cavanaugh; 09-24-2011 at 11:32 AM.
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  4. #13
    BPnet Veteran Quiet Tempest's Avatar
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    I've gotten a great deal of messages here asking questions about maternal incubation and how I've handled my clutches. That's the reason behind this thread. I was hoping to provide a one-stop information desk for those who wanted to know more but didn't know where to look. I wish that there had been a thread like this available when I started breeding. There were a few articles on the topic and a few threads on reptile forums that mentioned it but most of that only prompted more questions rather than gave answers. I've been learning as I go and I'm sure there's plenty more to be learned. I'm happy to share any information I've picked up along the way because I think it's a fascinating process to watch unfold and anyone who is interested in trying it for themselves shouldn't be made to feel foolish or careless for doing so. It was definitely not my intent to dismiss the merits of artificial incubation. There is nothing wrong with artificial incubation methods and if those methods work for you and you prefer that route then by all means stick with it. For me, I prefer maternal incubation. As long as you've got a healthy female and her enclosure is good there is nothing wrong with maternal incubation. It's all a matter of choice for the breeder.
    Ball Pythons
    0.3 Normals
    1.1 Normals 100% het. Piebald
    0.1 Albino
    0.1 Butter
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  6. #14
    BPnet Senior Member Anya's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for this...I'd dismissed maternal incubation too quickly, I see. I'm actually seriously considering it now- it's what I wanted to do from the beginning, anyway. Just didn't think it would be possible.

    Thank you!
    0.1.0 Pastel Ball Python 'Marcelene'
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  7. #15
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    Re: Maternal Incubation

    My question is what should i put in the tub for her to use and how can u tell when she ready to lay eggs? I have a female but just not sure how to telll when she is ready to lay eggs

    Quote Originally Posted by Quiet Tempest View Post
    Maternal incubation is often considered a haphazard ordeal for both snake and her keeper but I must respectfully disagree. There is a lot of misinformation readily available out and successful ventures in maternal incubation tend to be overlooked or considered lucky gambles. There are certainly pros and cons to both methods of incubating eggs but I wouldnít say that one is better than the other.

    I find the maternal route to be less expensive and less problematic than the artificial method so it has become my preference when it comes to breeding ball pythons. I feel an experienced mother snake is better prepared to care for her eggs than I am and seeing things unfold naturally is absolutely worthwhile for me. The only requirement on the part of the keeper here is to provide the female with adequate housing. An enclosure that promotes healthy behavior and intact shed skins is likely suitable for females brooding a clutch. The main concern when it comes to maternal incubation is temperature and humidity. In an incubator, this is controlled entirely by the keeper. When maternally incubating a clutch, the keeper takes a backseat to the process. So long as all of her needs are met, there is no reason why maternal incubation canít be successful. The female will choose the best nesting site in her enclosure. Mine have a tendency to lay their eggs in the back of the tub near or directly over the heat tape. When I placed a probe in one of my female's clutches to measure the temps, I found that her nesting site was reading 87-88F throughout incubation. The urge to increase humidity should be resisted unless conditions in the enclosure have become arid and unsuitable for keeping ball pythons. This problem is more likely to occur in enclosures with screen tops or that are heated by lamps. Some substrates are better suited for holding humidity. I like to use cypress in my ball enclosures and keep humidity levels no less than 60% for my ball pythons - 70-80% being ideal for a brooding female. An easy solution for low humidity issues would be to make a humid hide. In the case of a gravid female, this would be a nest box large enough to accommodate her and her clutch. If you intend to give your female a nest box, be sure to provide this for her well ahead of her estimated lay date so that she can become accustomed to the new feature in her enclosure.

    When the female lays her clutch, they usually adhere to one another in a pile so that when the she leaves them to drink or feed they donít roll out of the nest. This isnít always the case, however. Snowflaking is an odd phenomenon that often occurs in colubrid eggs but can also occur in ball python eggs as well. A snowflaked egg appears to have spots or ďsnowflakesĒ on the egg shell. Snowflaked eggs may look quite odd but they are not defective and there is no need to throw them out. Most breeders believe that snowflaking occurs when there is a variation of calcium in the egg shell. Incidentally when this happens, Iíve noticed these eggs rarely adhere to one another as they should and this can be problematic for a brooding mom because there could be roll outs among them. A roll out is an egg that falls away from the pile. Sometimes roll outs are slugs or infertile eggs that have been deliberately pushed away from the clutch but in the case of snowflaked eggs, they may fall away from the pile on their own. This usually happens when the mother leaves the nest to feed or drink and. Mothers will usually use their bodies to pull these strayed eggs back to the pile when they return but sometimes they are missed. Itís a good idea to check on your brooding female regularly to ensure that all of her eggs are being coiled.

    Donít worry if a viable egg is turned or rolled out of the nest for some reason. So long as the egg hasnít suffered trauma, hasnít gotten dangerous cool and is returned to the pile and coiled by its mother, there is no reason why it shouldnít continue to develop normally and result in a healthy hatchling. Several breeders have conducted a series of experiments to see how turning eggs at different points during incubation affect the embryo inside and the results of those tests indicate that the eggs can self correct in the event that they have been turned during incubation. When I have found a rolled out egg in an enclosure, I have carefully removed the mother and placed the stray egg back into the pile before allowing her to return to the enclosure and wrap around the clutch again. It is very important to limit handling the eggs and irritating the mother through these sorts of interventions whenever possible. Excessive stress can force a mother, especially a new or young mother, to abandon her clutch if she feels that her nest is unsafe. Females that ordinarily exhibit a calm disposition may suddenly become aggressive as brooding mothers if you needed more reason to limit bothering the nest or mom.

    Females can and will continue to feed while maternally incubating. Some may refuse the first offered meal but this is not an indication that sheíll refuse all subsequent offerings. This was a mistake I made the first year I bred ball pythons and maternally incubated the clutch. The mother refused to eat and, largely because of the misinformation Iíd read on the topic, I assumed that mothers who were brooding a clutch always refused to eat and wouldnít take a meal until after the eggs hatched. Iíve since learned I was wrong and now offer food to maternally incubating females when I feed the rest of my collection. Sometimes they feel like eating and other times they donít. Thatís really nothing new or worrisome when dealing with ball pythons. A mother in the wild is not bound to their clutch for the entire duration. She will periodically leave her clutch to go eat, drink or bask. In a captive environment, there is no need for her to seek out a basking site because the entire enclosure is usually kept at comfortable temperatures for her so the only time she will leave her clutch is to drink or when offered food. When offering food, I find itís best to offer meals that are smaller than what the female was regularly fed. Smaller meals are easier to digest and are more readily accepted by brooding females. Very little energy is expended by a mother maternally incubating a clutch so even if she refused most or even all food offered while she is brooding, she is not likely to lose much body mass if any at all. The females who continue to feed regularly while brooding will gain body mass.

    As the eggs get nearer to hatching they will begin collapse or wrinkle, sweat and finally pip. The babies usually remain in their eggs for a while, absorbing the rest of their yolk, before fully emerging from their eggs. The mother senses that her eggs are hatching and will relax her coils to let her new offspring leave the nest. Some mothers can become very skiddish as the babies start emerging and bump into her or burrowing beneath the substrate but in my experience, she becomes accustomed to it and relaxes rather quickly. Once all of the babies have left the nest, sheíll leave as well. If, for some reason, you feel an egg is overdue or that some other reason necessitates cutting the eggs open, I would caution against doing so unless you intend to move those eggs to an artificial incubator until the hatchlings fully emerge. I say this because if you cut an egg, its shell loses its integrity and no longer provides a buffer for outside manipulation. A cut egg in a brooded clutch could be squished to the point of emptying its contents and/or injuring the baby inside. Maternally incubated clutches generally hatch anywhere from 50 to 70 days. An egg not hatching out on a specific day does not mean there is cause for alarm. Every clutch is different and the results of one may not always be mirrored by the next regardless of what incubation method is used.


    Hope it helps. Please let me know if I've left something unanswered.
    <3mysnakes

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  9. #16
    BPnet Veteran crepers86's Avatar
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    Re: Maternal Incubation

    Ok so you talked about the nest for the eggs, so here is a question. Should I use a substrate other then news paper, like aspen or something. I am thinking of breeding a normal pair next season. This way I am not investing in a whole bunch of money, and I can see how I am going to do with it. So in the mean time I am doing as much research to prepare my self for it.
    The only way to shine your light is in the dark...Never let life kill your spark- Crown the Empire

  10. #17
    BPnet Veteran Quiet Tempest's Avatar
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    Re: Maternal Incubation

    Quote Originally Posted by Crazygirl32 View Post
    My question is what should i put in the tub for her to use and how can u tell when she ready to lay eggs? I have a female but just not sure how to telll when she is ready to lay eggs
    If you're keeping track of your female's progress you can have a good idea of when to expect her to lay. Watch for her ovulation and prelay shed and count the days to her estimated due date.


    Quote Originally Posted by crepers86 View Post
    Ok so you talked about the nest for the eggs, so here is a question. Should I use a substrate other then news paper, like aspen or something. I am thinking of breeding a normal pair next season. This way I am not investing in a whole bunch of money, and I can see how I am going to do with it. So in the mean time I am doing as much research to prepare my self for it.
    I like using cypress for my bedding and add sphagnum if need be to help maintain humidity. I've never kept a brooding female on newspaper so I'm not sure how that would work out. I think that there are some on here who have had successfully brooded clutches on paper but I feel more comfortable with the cypress because it holds moisture well and I don't have to disturb my female to spot clean her tub.
    Ball Pythons
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    1.1 Normals 100% het. Piebald
    0.1 Albino
    0.1 Butter
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    1.1 Pastels
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    Re: Maternal Incubation

    What do you do when the female defecates in her enclosure with the eggs? Do you think there is a chance the eggs will go bad?

    Thanks

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    Smile Re: Maternal Incubation

    Thank you for all of the information. Especially about feeding during the brooding period. The majority of information we have seen also gave us the impression that you don't feed during this time, so thank you for telling us about your experience with this so we now know to feed her. This is all new to us, so we truly appreciate advice like yours. If you, or anyone else reading this can help with a question. We have a male blond pastel (dominant) ball python and a female hypo (ghost) ball python. We would love to know about what possible outcome we could have from breeding them. Also, anything else that you can share about before breeding or during the breeding process would be great and very helpful. Thank you.

  14. #20
    BPnet Veteran SnakeGirl3's Avatar
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    Re: Maternal Incubation

    Quote Originally Posted by Fritoghost View Post
    Thank you for all of the information. Especially about feeding during the brooding period. The majority of information we have seen also gave us the impression that you don't feed during this time, so thank you for telling us about your experience with this so we now know to feed her. This is all new to us, so we truly appreciate advice like yours. If you, or anyone else reading this can help with a question. We have a male blond pastel (dominant) ball python and a female hypo (ghost) ball python. We would love to know about what possible outcome we could have from breeding them. Also, anything else that you can share about before breeding or during the breeding process would be great and very helpful. Thank you.
    You would get normals that are 100% het hypo and blond pastels that are 100& het hypo (whenever you have a visual recessive in the pairing, all of the clutch's offspring are 100% het for that trait, so any offspring your female hypo produces will be 100% het for hypo, regardless of what you breed her to--if the male you breed to her is a het for hypo, then you could get visual hypos in the clutch).


    Our Ball Python Collection:
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    1.0 Butter 100% Het Orange Hypo
    1.0 Pinstripe 100% Het Orange Hypo
    1.0 Super Sable

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