How to Take Care Ball Python Eggs

Fertile eggs are white in color and are about the size of a goose egg. Ball python eggs are not hard-shelled like a birds' egg, but instead are slightly pliant and leathery feeling to the touch. When candled (the process of holding a small bright light such as a penlight up to the side of the egg), a well-defined vein system along with an embryo can be seen in the egg. Ball pythons begin developing after fertilization so that, by the time the egg is laid, the embryo is already well on its way to becoming a baby snake. I recommend that you candle all of your eggs before placing them into the incubator. Most flashlights will do the trick. Candling works best in a room that is not brightly lit. If possible, take the clutch into a darker room and carefully candle them. Eggs that not contain embryos need to be discarded.

If you are lucky enough to catch your female laying her eggs, the embryo will be clearly visible until the shell dries. Occasionally, it is possible for a ball python to lay an egg that appears to be viable—it has the right color and size—but has no embryo present. This is an infertile egg. These eggs usually will collapse and become moldy within two weeks of being placed into the incubator. Slugs or ova that failed to develop are much smaller than fertile eggs. They are of a different color and texture and can be disposed of immedi­ately.

Occasionally, an egg will have one end that did not calcify properly. This end will be a gold brown in color, and the egg may have the shape of a teardrop. These eggs can be incu­bated with the rest of the clutch as long as there is an embryo present within the egg. When I set these types of eggs up in the incubation substrate, I make sure that the end that is not properly calcified is above the incubation medium and not resting in it. The hatchlings that come from these types of eggs will almost always be much smaller than their siblings and will need to be fed correspondingly smaller food items. The surface of other eggs in some clutches may appear to be unevenly calcified. As incubation proceeds, these eggs may begin to look as if they have dimples all over them. Just maintain proper humidity and temperature, and they should hatch with no problem.

Once in a while, an egg or two may have a small or large brown spot on the surface. These are often referred to as windows, and if you have one that is large enough, you may be able to see the developing snake inside of the egg. If the egg clump has been left intact and an egg begins to mold in the center, do not worry too much. If the mold concerns you, use cotton swabs to carefully wipe the mold away from the edges of the other eggs. If the eggs are set out individually in the box, and an egg begins to mold and collapse, you can discard that egg. Eggs that begin to get green or blue "water marks" on them are no longer viable and should be removed. Eggs that have died also begin to smell. This is a real­ly great way to determine for certain that the egg is no longer viable.

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