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How to Tell If a Snake Is Pregnant
Breeding snakes at home is certainly an exciting and rewarding process, but even experts can have difficulty at times telling whether a snake is pregnant or not. Simply noticing that your female has gained weight after mating is not enough to confirm that she’s pregnant, as she may just be digesting her most recent meal!
The only way to be certain that your female is pregnant is to take her to your local vet for an X-ray or ultrasound, although other signs may give you hints beforehand. Let’s take a look.
Signs of a Pregnant Snake
Here are a few of the most revealing signs that your snake may be pregnant, but these could just be signs of typical snake behavior:
How Long Are Snakes Pregnant?
All snake species are different, and the time that they are pregnant, or “gravid,” for is different too. Most snakes that are commonly kept as pets are typically pregnant for anywhere from 30 to 60 days.
Here are the gestation periods for common pet snakes:
|Ball Python||54–60 days|
|Burmese Python||60–90 days|
|Green Tree Python||45–50 days|
|King Snake||55–60 days|
|Milk Snake||28–39 days|
|Corn Snake||30–45 days|
|Rosy Boa||100–140 days|
|Gopher Snake||65–70 days|
How to Take Care of a Pregnant Snake
Once you’ve confirmed that your snake is indeed pregnant, she’ll need special care during her gestation period. Keeping the correct temperature consistent is vital, and though she will naturally seek out cooler parts of her tank, she may still want to lay under a heat lamp occasionally too. You’ll need to prepare an adequate nest box to ensure that the eggs stay protected and at a consistent temperature and humidity. Although the size of the nest box will depend on the species of snake, it should typically be a relatively small space.
Your pregnant female will eat little or not at all during this period, and this is nothing to worry about and perfectly normal. It’s also best to avoid handling during this time, not only to prevent causing her unnecessary stress, but your snake will also likely become more aggressive while pregnant.
Related Read: 11 Snakes That Give Live Birth Like Mammals
Can Snakes Breed Without a Male?
Depending on the species of snake, your female may be pregnant even though she hasn’t mated with a male. This process is called parthenogenesis, or asexual reproduction, and while it’s rare, it’s possible in some captive snakes and has been observed in the Brahminy Blind Snake, or Flowerpot Snake.
Some snakes may also lay a clutch of eggs years after being adopted, leading many owners to believe that she produced eggs asexually. It’s more likely that the female mated before you adopted her, as some female snakes have the unique ability to store viable sperm for up to 6 years!
Even if your female has not mated a male recently, some of these signs could mean she’s pregnant!
The only way to tell with absolute certainty whether your snake is pregnant is to take her to a vet for a scan, although several tell-tale signs can give you a few hints beforehand. Your female may stop eating, become more aggressive, change color, and prefer the cooler area of her tank suddenly, all of which could be potential signs of pregnancy.
Related Read: How Many Eggs Do Pythons Lay & How Many Survive?
Featured Image Credit: Gerald A. DeBoer, Shutterstock
Oliver (Ollie) Jones – A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his master’s degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.