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  1. #1
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    Got an unexpected clutch. Trying maternal incubation. Any tips to a first timer?

    So apparently, Ball Pythons are capable of Parthenogenesis, which is essentially when a female animal has offspring without any male sperm. I've had my Ball Python for about 10-11 years, and she was a yearling or around there when I got her, though I only discovered she was female a little under a year ago. And this Tuesday, I discovered also that apparently she is capable of Parthenogenesis, as I found her coiled around a clutch of eggs. I candled one and found blood vessels.

    So I did a lot of reading and stuff, and read that stickied thread about Maternal incubation after someone suggested the idea. I'm getting a proper incubation thermometer/hydrometer by Saturday according to USPS, but for the meantime I've taken the tank probes and put them near her (they don't reach as well because they are siliconed to the side; I hope I can put the new probes snugly between her and the eggs). I bought some Vermiculite, mixed it with water, and distributed some around her. She's in a little black plastic hide on the warm side of the tank. The thermostat is set to 92 for the UTH but the eggs seem to be reading around 86-88 with my temp gun.

    She's in a wooden/glass enclosure with a sliding door so it keeps in humidity well. I'm trying to get the current probe to read around at least 80%; I've heard 90% is ideal but the stickied thread suggested around 80% for maternal incubation.

    I should mention I'm a graduate student and was not planning at all to incubate python eggs. This caught me entirely by surprise. I understand this phenomena is exceedingly rare in Ball Pythons so the dye just happened to roll this way. Any additional tips anyone could suggest?

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  3. #2
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    I did MI with an unplanned retained sperm clutch a few years ago. Other than the loss of one full term baby that just never pipped, it went quite well. A couple things -

    First, 86-88 is fine for eggs. You will get cooler temps and more fluctuations with an MI clutch.

    The actual temperature under the egg mass may be higher. If it's too high, this, too, can kill eggs. If you're tempted to dial it up, refrain. Ball Pythons don't appear able to raise the temperature of their clutches like other pythons, by the can lower temps that are too warm by opening their coils, or even leaving the clutch for a bit.

    75-80% humidity is what you want with MI. The mother regulates humidity of the clutch itself by opening and closing her coils. If things are too wet, you risk killing the eggs and the mother may suffer skin damage. 90% or higher is what we shoot for in artificial incubation. I'll have to dig up my notes, but it seems like Lady Dahlia's cage hoovered around 72-75% humidity for the whole of her MI. If your female is in her hide with her clutch, I can almost guarantee you, humidity is higher than 80%

    One of the things you really do want to avoid is getting those eggs wet, or allowing them to sit on a wet surface. This is a killer for eggs. If feel you need to add more humidity, mist the opposite side of the cage, not on or around the mother.

    A good material for a nesting female is lightly damp sphagnum moss. Soak it, wring it out until it is almost dry, and put it around the outside of her hide box. Try not to mess with her too much. The moss is great for mild humidity, as well as being antimicrobial.

    Other than that, the main thing I can think of is, try not to bother her too much.
    Hopefully any of that helped, and best of luck with the clutch!!

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    Got an unexpected clutch. Trying maternal incubation. Any tips to a first timer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Alicia View Post
    I did MI with an unplanned retained sperm clutch a few years ago. Other than the loss of one full term baby that just never pipped, it went quite well. A couple things -

    First, 86-88 is fine for eggs. You will get cooler temps and more fluctuations with an MI clutch.

    The actual temperature under the egg mass may be higher. If it's too high, this, too, can kill eggs. If you're tempted to dial it up, refrain. Ball Pythons don't appear able to raise the temperature of their clutches like other pythons, by the can lower temps that are too warm by opening their coils, or even leaving the clutch for a bit.

    75-80% humidity is what you want with MI. The mother regulates humidity of the clutch itself by opening and closing her coils. If things are too wet, you risk killing the eggs and the mother may suffer skin damage. 90% or higher is what we shoot for in artificial incubation. I'll have to dig up my notes, but it seems like Lady Dahlia's cage hoovered around 72-75% humidity for the whole of her MI. If your female is in her hide with her clutch, I can almost guarantee you, humidity is higher than 80%

    One of the things you really do want to avoid is getting those eggs wet, or allowing them to sit on a wet surface. This is a killer for eggs. If feel you need to add more humidity, mist the opposite side of the cage, not on or around the mother.

    A good material for a nesting female is lightly damp sphagnum moss. Soak it, wring it out until it is almost dry, and put it around the outside of her hide box. Try not to mess with her too much. The moss is great for mild humidity, as well as being antimicrobial.

    Other than that, the main thing I can think of is, try not to bother her too much.
    Hopefully any of that helped, and best of luck with the clutch!!
    All of the above ..

    Oh and the moss around ( and tucked under) the hide worked a treat ..I just kept the moss damp over the incubation period ) 100% success rate ..




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    Last edited by Zincubus; 04-18-2020 at 08:31 AM.




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    Re: Got an unexpected clutch. Trying maternal incubation. Any tips to a first timer?

    Thank you, good to know the humidity can be that for maternal incubation. I just got an incubation thermometer/hydrometer, and unfortunately the hydrometer is stuck at 99% no matter where I put it so unless I fix/return that, it's basically useless for now, but my general cage hydrometer is reading in the 70s-80s so I think humidity is fine. I just removed all the slugs I could see when I realize how easy it was to identify them; they were so much smaller, though I candled them just to be sure they were slugs. I think they were going bad which may have not been a good thing to have near the viable eggs.

    I had some in person suggest Vermiculite so I ended up getting that which seems to be holding humidity well; I did not have moss handy nearby but the Vermiculite seems to be doing the job. It's just a bit messier than the moss would probably be. I moved the probe closer to the ground level of the eggs (which I could finally do with the slugs gone) and saw the temps were indeed higher at 88. Thermostat is now oscillating between roughly 88 and 90 I believe (UTH meant for the snake).

    Thanks for the advice!

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    Re: Got an unexpected clutch. Trying maternal incubation. Any tips to a first timer?

    So you can just leave the eggs with the mama snake instead of using an incubator?! That is cool.

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    Re: Got an unexpected clutch. Trying maternal incubation. Any tips to a first timer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raptor Llama View Post
    Thank you, good to know the humidity can be that for maternal incubation. I just got an incubation thermometer/hydrometer, and unfortunately the hydrometer is stuck at 99% no matter where I put it so unless I fix/return that, it's basically useless for now, but my general cage hydrometer is reading in the 70s-80s so I think humidity is fine. I just removed all the slugs I could see when I realize how easy it was to identify them; they were so much smaller, though I candled them just to be sure they were slugs. I think they were going bad which may have not been a good thing to have near the viable eggs.

    I had some in person suggest Vermiculite so I ended up getting that which seems to be holding humidity well; I did not have moss handy nearby but the Vermiculite seems to be doing the job. It's just a bit messier than the moss would probably be. I moved the probe closer to the ground level of the eggs (which I could finally do with the slugs gone) and saw the temps were indeed higher at 88. Thermostat is now oscillating between roughly 88 and 90 I believe (UTH meant for the snake).

    Thanks for the advice!

    How are the eggs doing? Is the mom back on food while incubating the eggs?

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    Re: Got an unexpected clutch. Trying maternal incubation. Any tips to a first timer?

    Quote Originally Posted by cincy View Post
    How are the eggs doing? Is the mom back on food while incubating the eggs?
    I'm afraid I haven't been checking this forum very much. The eggs are doing surprisingly well! I think it's around day 40, and all of them look to be of a normal coloration and their dimpling seems to be relatively minor. I'm rather surprised since Parthenogenesis generally leads to poor quality genetics that often don't make it all the way, but from external appearances so far so good.

    The mother took a small rat I offered her. I'm going to offer again this Friday. She's a very consistent eater generally, stopping to eat around winter presumably for mating season for 4-6 months each year, and then when she resumes she eats consistently unless she's shedding or something. She took the rat and dragged it right back into her hide with the eggs; she never even had to uncoil from her clutch to get it!

    I've started making preparations for the babies. I've got 2 people message me via Facebook groups that are local and willing to adopt them. I've asked them to provide me with enclosures for their babies and in return I'll give them the snakes at no extra cost. I'm planning on keeping two, one for me and one for a friend (I'm going to give him the snake later when his living situation is more in order). Of course, if some of them don't hatch, I'm going to have to make some decisions as to who gets the snakes and who doesn't.

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    Re: Got an unexpected clutch. Trying maternal incubation. Any tips to a first timer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raptor Llama View Post
    I'm afraid I haven't been checking this forum very much. The eggs are doing surprisingly well! I think it's around day 40, and all of them look to be of a normal coloration and their dimpling seems to be relatively minor. I'm rather surprised since Parthenogenesis generally leads to poor quality genetics that often don't make it all the way, but from external appearances so far so good.

    The mother took a small rat I offered her. I'm going to offer again this Friday. She's a very consistent eater generally, stopping to eat around winter presumably for mating season for 4-6 months each year, and then when she resumes she eats consistently unless she's shedding or something. She took the rat and dragged it right back into her hide with the eggs; she never even had to uncoil from her clutch to get it!

    I've started making preparations for the babies. I've got 2 people message me via Facebook groups that are local and willing to adopt them. I've asked them to provide me with enclosures for their babies and in return I'll give them the snakes at no extra cost. I'm planning on keeping two, one for me and one for a friend (I'm going to give him the snake later when his living situation is more in order). Of course, if some of them don't hatch, I'm going to have to make some decisions as to who gets the snakes and who doesn't.
    Good to hear mom is taking food. I hope the journey continues to go smooth. Please update the thread if you think about it once the eggs hatch. Pics would be great

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