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Python Breeding

So you want to breed pythons, do you? Some readers have probably had a go and found it is not as easy as first thought to achieve consistent and reliable results. You’ve no doubt tried reading everything you can find, but have discovered that there is no simple “how to do it manual” and the advice you receive is often jumbled and conflicting, or vague and too general. Certainly, that is how I found the hobby when I started, and judging from the many comments and questions we receive through our Southern Cross Reptiles website, this is the way many find it still.

The first point I would like to make about breeding reptiles is that there is no one right way to do it, just a hell of a lot of wrong ways. One of the greatest attractions of herpetoculture for me is that it seems no matter how much experience you gain there is always more to learn and surprises are just around the corner. So, while I cannot claim to know the right way, I do have many years of experience at getting things wrong and so hopefully can help point others in the right direction.

It is important to realise that breeding pythons with consistency is a year round project. You cannot just expect to put animals together and have them breed unless you have put in the necessary preparation and careful observation. When I first considered writing this series of articles, I started by writing down a list of the husbandry topics where I felt a basic understanding would be helpful when attempting to breed the various Australian python species. This list is as follows:

• Adult feeding regimes
• Temperature cycling
• Day/night cycles
• Mating schedules
• Using multiple males
• Male combat
• Male fertility
• Colony size – sex ratios
• Yolk formation
• Ovulation
• Determining pregnancy

• Pregnant snake nutrition
• Pre-lay care of females
• Nest box design
• Laying & egg collection
• Post-lay care of females
• Incubation techniques
• Managing the hatching process
• Post-hatch care of neonates
• Neonate Feeding
• Sex determination

Interestingly, when fielding frequent questions about how to breed a species, nearly two thirds of these topics are never raised by anyone and yet, from my experience, many can have a dramatic impact on results. Over the next series of articles, it is my intention to cover all of these subject areas at least briefly and so hopefully provide a basic yet comprehensive set of articles on the husbandry techniques for python breeding.

However, before embarking on this quest, it is probably best that I first describe in general terms the reproductive anatomy of pythons and the physiological processes they go through during the breeding cycle.

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