Snake Eggs!!!

March 24th 2014

As you may have read on the main page, it was on Monday, March 24th when our very first snake eggs were laid by our female ball python, Aries.  I found her coiled around them a little after 11pm after I went to check on her one final time before going to bed for the night.

Aries with her first clutch of eggs! 
As you can see, she stays coiled around the eggs constantly.  This does two things - it helps her to keep the temperature as well as the humidity constant.  Eggs that are maternally incubated tend to stay between 82-88 degrees.  The eggs themselves produce some heat, so if things get two warm, Aries will loosen her coils and let out some of the heat and if the eggs get to cold she can tighten up around them to conserve heat.  She can do the same thing to help maintain a higher humidity or lower humidity - by either squeezing tighter or letting herself relax. 

The eggs also tend to stick together after they are pushed together, which assists mom when she has to leave to drink, or on rare occasions eat, as she can come back and go right back around them since they haven't moved or rolled around in her absence.  Sticky eggs are very convenient for maternal incubation. 

At this time we have decided to let Aries take care of the eggs herself and observe the more natural incubation process.  However, if the eggs should seem to be drying out or have any other issues, we have an egg box standing buy just in case and we can transfer them if the need arises.  These eggs are due around May 22nd or so, depending on the temperature, etc.  Eggs usually take 55 - 60 days to hatch.

March 29th 2014

A little after 4am my one year old woke up and got a bottle and then didn't go back to sleep.  Before I went back in to check on him, I decided to head to the critter closet to see if anything was going on with our second gravid (pregnant) female, Stryker.  Stryker has been the featured snake in several of my library and school programs over the last several years, so we are very excited for her to be a mom!  Around midnight, this is what she looked like:

Stryker about to pop!
 Her first egg was laid at approximately 4am and when I got there the second egg was about to be laid.  At that point she was steadily laying eggs about every 30 minutes or so.  She would position each one inside her coils so that she could easily wrap around them when she was done.  I was also able to video some of the eggs being laid and I will load those clips soon. She was not her usual nice, relaxed self - when snakes start laying eggs they get very, very protective and Stryker was constantly hissing at anything that moved, including me trying to take her picture. 

Below are several photos of the egg laying process along with some descriptions and facts when appropriate.  Enjoy!

Here is egg #2 being laid.  Notice how she is completely wrapped around them with her tail inside her coils.

Another up close shot of eggs #1 and #2.

Egg #3 just popped out.

If you look carefully, you can see egg #4 just barely starting to come out from under her tail - you can see the small dot of white color peeking out. 

Egg #4 is almost out!

It's out and in perfect position to be hugged!

Egg #5 is coming out up in the top left corner - then she moves her body over it and pulls it in close with the other eggs. 

The kids got up early to be able to see the last few eggs being laid - they were very impressed!

This was Grady "smiling" when I told him to smile. 

Reagan was very impressed as she watched the egg come out. 

Reagan was pretending to be a rabbit who had snake powers...

Notice her tail right below her head - and out comes egg #6!

Here is one tired mom with all 6 of her eggs.

We removed the eggs after Stryker was done and put them into an incubator so they could have constant heat and temperature.  This also allows Stryker to start eating again and recover her strength.

Here you can get a feel for the size of the egg - they are quite large, and they feel like a water balloon. 

Stryker is getting a bath while her cage is cleaned and disinfected so that the egg smell will be gone and she can get back to eating rats and gaining back her weight.

Prior to laying her eggs, Stryker weighed just over 2000 grams, but afterwards she only weighed 1400 grams - so her 6 eggs caused her to lose 600 grams - and now she will soon start eating medium rats to put the weight back on so she can be healthy for next year's breeding season.  So now she just gets to relax and eat for several months. 

The incubator above keeps the eggs at 86 degrees and a very high humidity level as well so that the eggs do not dry out.  This way they will hatch in two months time - a few weeks prior to hatching the eggs will start to get wrinkles in them and get smaller as the snakes absorb most of the fluid in the egg.  That is one way that you can tell when it's time for them to hatch. 

That is all for now - more updates, including videos, will be posted soon!

April 1st 2014

Today was a very important day for Stryker as she ate her first rat since she laid eggs a few days ago.  Now that she has eaten, she should continue to eat one rat a week for the next 9 months or so - until next mating season, at which time she will have regained all of her lost weight as well as gained a few more grams. 

We will also be removing Aries' eggs within the next few days to give her a break and let her start back to eating and gaining her weight back - she has done a good job, but the incubator definitely makes it easier to maintain the proper heat and humidity without the strain on the mommy snake! 

I was going to take a picture of Stryker eating, but she ate so fast that she was pretty much done and I hadn't even realized that she had even started yet!  Oh well, maybe next time!

May 20th 2014 - EGGS HATCH!!!  

Hello Everyone!  Today was a great day for several reasons!  First, it was my daughter Reagan's 7th birthday.  She got a bicycle and was thrilled to play with it, eat some BBQ, have a cupcake, and see some family as well.  But the evening got even better when I went upstairs to check on Arie's eggs and found 4 brand new snakes crawling around the container and 3 more just starting to poke their heads out of their eggs.  (They stay in the egg for several hours to absorb the last few nutrients before crawling all the way out).  From the VERY early results - it looks like 3 girls and 1 boy, although I am not an expert in figuring that out yet!  Below are some pictures of the new babies!

The kids were super excited to see the new babies! 
Here you can see the three babies who are still in their eggs - they are filling their bellies with food before venturing forth into the world! 

Here is a nice shot of the ones who were already out as well as the three who were still "hiding."  Notice the top egg - you can just barely see an eye looking out of the slit. 
These are the first four out of the eggs - they can all easily fit in the palm of my hand!  Very cool! 
These snakes will always share a birthday with my little girl Reagan - which  makes it very easy for me to remember how old they are!  Stryker's eggs should be ready to hatch within a few days as she laid them less than a week after Aries laid hers.  Below is a video of two of the snakes looking out of their eggs at each other - and then the one on the left shows us a great big yawn!  It's very cute!  Enjoy!  

May 22nd 2014

Two days after the first four snakes came out of their eggs, the remaining 3 are now all out and all have been transferred to their new home for the next week or two.  Once they shed, they will be separated and the first feedings will begin.  So far, there is one boy and six girls - although I am only 100% sure about the boy as of right now.  Below are a few of the pictures - the kids are having a blast getting to know the new babies - as are the neighbors!  Still no hatching news from Stryker's eggs - but any day now there should be!
The final egg is out - seven babies all together! 

Exploring their new home!

Reagan and Grady (and Poe the Cat) watching the snakes in their new cage.

My wife Lindsay holding a baby - a ball python always makes a ring sparkle!

The neighbors are as excited as we are to see the new babies!

Toby was thrilled to get a rare snake pic!

One of my favorite pics - Toby was being very sweet and careful.

Grady wants the one boy snake of course!

May 24th 2014

Greetings Everyone!   All of the baby snakes are doing great, as you can probably see from the pictures above.  It has now been four days since Aries' eggs hatched, and if the timeline stays constant, today would be the day for Stryker's eggs to start hatching, as they were born 4 days after Aries' eggs.  They are starting to dimple, which is a sign of imminent hatching and I have been checking them several times a day hoping to see the very first time they poke out their little heads!  While we are all waiting, I wanted to share a few pics of the eggs with a light shining against them to illuminate the insides!  You can actually see the veins pulsing in the egg as well as a baby snake's head in one picture!  Enjoy them below:

Those veins mean a healthy egg and snake!

A great shot of almost the entire inside of the egg - the snake is towards the bottom.

Here is a close up view - you can see the snake's head in the bottom right hand corner along with it's eye!

Reminds me of a volcano and lava!

Nice reflection in the Hello Kitty phone case (it's my wife's! :) )

May 25th 2014

Today we had our first head poke out from Stryker's clutch of five eggs!  The rest should be cutting through their eggs over the next several hours, and then they will stay inside for another day or so before making their way out for good.  Enjoy the pic of the first baby out! 

The first one to make an appearance from Stryker's clutch!  Notice the bubble on it's mouth!  How cute!

May 26th 2014

10amAll of Stryker's offspring are now peaking out of their eggs.  It will probably take them another day before they are all out.  It is amazing how they all know to come out within a few hours of one another.  Below is a few pictures with them looking up at their new world! 

They are very interested in something above them...I have no idea what they think they see!

A little different angle.

May 30th-31st, 2014

Right at the 10 day mark after hatching, all of Arie's babies started to shed their skin.  Over the course of 2-3 days all the snakes shed, mostly in one piece, which meant it was almost time to try their first meals.  Below is a pic of all seven snake skins next to a barbie doll so you can see the approximate size of each (and all the snakes were being kept in my little girl Reagan's room in a big cage so Barbie was readily available for comparisons!). 

Seven old skins from seven new snakes!
It was then time for their first meals.  I tried to feed them frozen/thawed small mice first, but they all completely ignored the mice, so I was obliged to try live baby mice (pinkies).  After finding a pet store in Columbia that sold them, I put all the snakes in separate containers, let them have a day or two to get comfortable, and then put in the live mice.  As of the time of this posting (June 6th) - 5 of the 7 have already eaten their mice!  The other two will be left with their mice overnight in the hopes that they will solve the puzzle of catching and eating their first meals!  Here is a picture of the very first baby to eat!
Got his meal on the first try! 

1 comment:

Chickadee said...

This is so neat. Thanks for sharing!