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Nanci's SnickerSnakes Welcome to SnickerSnakes- where the pretty snakes are! I love striped cornsnakes in red, white, purple, peach and pink. Foundation stock, breeding plans, and hopefully hatchling news!

Setting Up Hatchlings (The eggs have slit, now what??)
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Old 03-11-2014, 12:20 PM   #1
Setting Up Hatchlings (The eggs have slit, now what??)

Shortly before the first egg slits, you may notice changes to the eggs. The eggs may dent. You may notice a difference in the texture of the eggs; the shells may feel softer or thinner. If either of these things happen, you know hatching will happen in a week or less.

This is your final warning to have the hatchling containers ready to go. I set my babies up individually, in Iris shoebox containers, in a Reptile Basics hatchling rack. In the rack, the bins do not have lids. Babies can _easily_ escape from a commercial rack, despite what the manufacturer tells you. You can keep them from escaping by either placing a thin piece of cardboard under the bin, or by attaching rubber shelf liner to the shelf the bin sits on. Make sure the bin is tight. Of course you can also keep them in hatchling containers, with lids, outside of a rack, if you have adequate room heat.

I keep the babies on paper towels until they have fed once. (After a successful feeding, I change the substrate to CareFresh.) I put a flattened toilet paper tube in each bin, and usually a small clump of the damp moss from the egg container, after hatching. The babies often choose to burrow under the paper towel. The babies also get a water bowl. I use ramekins from Target that are big enough for the baby to get into. They don't tip, and babies like to perch on them. If you are using paper towels, you have to watch to make sure the baby hasn't gotten a corner of the paper towel into the water bowl- since it will wick all the water out of the bowl. Paper towels are great for cleaning/keeping an eye on things, but for me, not worth the hassle of wet bins from babies who get the paper towels into their bowls. You can also use aspen shavings- they just seem so rough for the new hatchlings' skins. I don't like to use CareFresh longer than a month or two, so if the babies will be staying a long time, they go on aspen.

After I observe denting or softening of the eggs, I begin to check them twice daily. One day there will be a slit! You may also notice oozing from the slit eggs. Don't worry about the eggs at the bottom of the pile; those hatchlings will make it out just fine. You don't need to remove the lid of the egg container, or punch holes in it.

It takes the hatchling up to 24 hours to emerge from the egg. Try not to disturb the baby too often. If it leaves the egg prematurely, it may not absorb all the egg yolk, and will have an egg stem attached. (If this happens, do not panic- most often this can be resolved just fine if you follow my instructions.) I check three times a day once I see slits. When the eggs start to slit, I remove the layer of moss which has been covering the eggs during incubation.

After the baby emerges from the egg, I give it about 30 minutes to dry off and get its bearings. If multiple babies emerge at once, they will often gather together in a baby pile in a corner of the egg container. I remove the hatchling, weigh it, photograph it, and put it in its container and leave it alone. Some people wait until all the babies have hatched before removing them. I like to take them out as they hatch because it keeps them from rampaging around and burying/tipping the other eggs, and from startling the hatching babies so they won't come out.

I record each baby's date of birth, and weight upon hatching. I note the new baby's ID, DOH, and hatch weight in sharpie, on the bin. The clutch/hatchling ID method I use is Sire Initial, Dam Initial, Year, First or Second Clutch, Hatchling Letter. So it looks like GM2013_01A, GM2013_01B, etc. I also note dates of feedings, sheds, and whether the hatchling is a male, or in the case of a suspected female, how many times it has popped female. Fl, Fll, Flll. I note the morph on the bin. I also began using a computer record keeping system last year- Reptile Scan. The software automatically generates QR codes for the hatchlings so they are simple to scan and record with my smartphone. Each hatchling has a QR code taped to the bin, which I transfer to its deli cup when it goes to its new home.

Each baby also has its own deli cup for feeding. I label it with a simpler ID such as Bloodred Baby A, and later note the sex.

The babies will go blue immediately. It takes them about 5-7 days for the first shed. I don't feed until after the first shed. This gives them time to finish absorbing the yolk inside them, and to get hungry. It is normal for the baby to lose several grams after shedding. I don't sex the baby until it has had three meals- but, truthfully, I don't think they remember or are traumatized by it for long- I just wouldn't do anything to upset the baby, handling or anything, until it has had a couple successful meals. It's okay to feed the baby the day it sheds, or wait until the next evening, or wait until the entire clutch is ready to feed. (Some people wait until a week after the babies shed before attempting to feed, to give them even more time to use up their reserves and get hungry. This certainly doesn't hurt, and may help. I just get impatient to get that first feeding out of the way, since it is so important!)

I start out with a day-old pink, very, very hot, in the deli cup, covered by a towel or whatever. I cut several slits in the pink's back. I leave the hatchling in the deli cup for one hour, no peeking. If it hasn't eaten, I reheat, and do the same. If it still doesn't eat, I reheat and leave it overnight.

For the second meal, same thing, but uncovered (with the lid on, of course). Third meal, without slitting, just to make sure that isn't influencing the feeding, then I go back to slitting.

If the baby doesn't eat on the first try, I wait 3-5 days, and then offer a boiled pink. Thaw the pink in hot tap water for a minute, drain, pour boiling water over it, and serve, without cooling, in the deli cup, covered. If this doesn't work, please see the sticky about Hatchling Feeding Tricks.
Old 03-11-2014, 03:13 PM   #2
This is great Nanci, thanks!

Only one question I've thought of that isn't answered here. If/when one has one of those tiny little hatchlings, what is the cut off for being too small to eat even a newborn pink? And do you go by weight at hatch or weight after shed to make that determination? And what do you feed them? Pinky heads?
Old 03-11-2014, 03:39 PM   #3
Originally Posted by kc261 View Post
This is great Nanci, thanks!

Only one question I've thought of that isn't answered here. If/when one has one of those tiny little hatchlings, what is the cut off for being too small to eat even a newborn pink? And do you go by weight at hatch or weight after shed to make that determination? And what do you feed them? Pinky heads?
I've had babies as small as 4 grams eat a day-old "red."

I've also seen cornsnake hatchlings as small as 2 grams. They can eat pinky heads.

You can always cut a frozen pink or red to the appropriate size- either lengthwise or crosswise.
Old 08-22-2014, 11:14 PM   #4
I had a 3.7 gram baby this year who ate whole reds right from the start.

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