The Millionaire Snake Breeder Blog: Breeding Temps
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
So one common question I often get is around temps and breeding. One important fact that I've learned over the years in discussions with other successful breeders is everyone does things slightly different. My way is definitely not the only way, but I'd like to share what works for me and my rationale for doing things the way I do.
I usually start breeding my animals in September and in Maryland where I live temps begin to drop around this time. I usually allow temps to drop naturally, but I do have a ink bird thermostat controlled oil filled heater in my room to prevent temps from dropping below 74 degrees F. So during breeding season my ambient (room temp) ranges from 74-77 degrees F. I find that the cooler temps stimulate the animals to breed and I also believe that the cooler temps helps to reduce the occurrence of slugs. My hot spot remains at 88-90 degrees F all year long. I do not adjust the hot spot at all. Ball Python sperm is very heat-labile (sensitive to high temps) and can die off if exposed to excessive heat. My theory is weak or dead sperm during ovulation equals slugs. This is why I believe females will lay cold just prior to ovulation or fertilization of their follicles. So I try to accommodate the natural cycle and provide a good temperature gradient for my animals to thermoregulate. If they want to be warm, they will lay on the hot spot. If they want to lay cool, I make sure the room temps are low enough to facilitate this need. This approach has helped me to minimize the occurrence of slugs over the years.
After all my breeding is done in March I adjust my thermostat to slowly bring the breeding room temps back up to 80 degrees F. I maintain the 80 degree temp until July and then I like to run the room hot at 82 degrees for 2 months. By running the room hot I am hoping to kill off any retained sperm in my females. This is very important if you plan to breed that female to a different male the next season... especially if you're making Hets! Females will occasionally keep viable retained sperm for up to a year. If this happens, you could get a mixed clutch or an entire clutch fathered by last years male. If you pay attention to your breeding trials, you will realize that a female bred by a male may ovulate months after the last copulation. This is because they carry the sperm sack the males deposit until they are ready to ovulate. So don't be surprised if they hold sperm until next season. Many of you who have ultrasounds can watch the progress of follicular development over time. I believe the act of copulation helps to stimulate follicular growth and if the female has adequate fat reserves and is kept in good condition she will eventually ovulate once the follicles are ready. I have even sold retired breeder females that I assumed took the year off only to have them ovulate for my customers! Early Christmas for them! So running the room hot at 82 degrees is good way to kill off any retained sperm and prevent mixups.
I hope you guys have found this post helpful. Good luck!