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Breeding/Egg Production & Care Any topics concerning breeding of the cornsnake, brumation, egg laying, or issues concerning problems in any step along the way.

Murphy's Laws of Snake Breeding
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Old 04-30-2005, 07:05 PM   #1
Rich Z
Murphy's Laws of Snake Breeding

Murphy's Laws of Snake Breeding
  • All of the snakes you obtain will not be properly sexed.
    Everyone makes mistakes. Sexing baby snakes is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Anyone who has told you that they have never made a mistake sexing a snake does not stay in contact with past customers.

    When you get your snakes, check the sexes immediately. It's a little embarrassing for both of you to have to call your supplier back two years later to tell them about the error. Plus you have just lost two years needlessly from your breeding plans with those snakes.
  • All of the snakes you obtain will not reach maturity and breed before some mishap occurs.
    Snakes DO escape. If there is one thing they are pros at doing, escaping is it. Sometimes you never see the escapee again and your breeding plans have been seriously impacted.

    Snakes DO die. Like all other life forms, they suffer from mortality. This could be from any number of things, such as poor husbandry, internal organ failures, accidents, etc. Keep the cage simple. Step back and take a look at it thinking that the snake is suicidal and will do anything it can to injure itself. Then remove all of the items that it could use to reach that goal.
  • Every mated pairing you plan for the snakes will not take place.
    Snakes do sometimes exhibit mate preference. This is sometimes tough to figure out unless you have a number of specimens to choose from and can play 'musical mates'.

    Just because you have a particular match in mind doesn't mean the participants or circumstances will be agreeable. It is quite possible that the female will not be receptive while the male is. Then when the female becomes receptive, the male gets opaque and may not have an interest in mating. Then by the time the male sheds his skin, the female could become opaque. If you are serious about working with a particular species or cultivar, plan on getting at least 2 males and 2 females.
  • Every mating does not produce eggs.
    For whatever reason, a female can mate, sometimes with multiple males, and then not produce any eggs. All can be cycled through with the same conditions that all the rest of the successful matings went through, but something is missing in the equation.
  • Every egg laid will not be fertile.
    This is a tough one to figure out. I have never been able to figure out exactly all of the variables going on to make every female produce 100 percent fertile eggs 100 percent of the time. You can expose the males and females to the same exact environmental conditions each year and sometimes a particular male will be the culprit in unsuccessful matings. The following year, every female he mates with produces all fertile eggs. On the other hand, some years a particular female will produce a majority of infertile eggs, although mated with a male that other females produce all fertile eggs after mating. The next year, with the same male, she will do fine.
  • Every fertile egg will not hatch successfully.
    As I am fond of saying, "Every hatching season has it's surprises. Mostly bad ones." Even discounting obvious errors in the methods someone may use to incubate snake eggs, obviously good eggs will sometimes fail. This can be as early as within a couple of weeks after the egg is laid, up to when the baby snake pokes his head out of the egg, takes a gasp of air, and then dies. This can be very frustrating since you are inclined to blame yourself. But any number of things can go wrong in the development of the embryo at any stage. After you have hatched enough eggs, you will see things hatch out that you will wonder how they ever made it that far without dying.
  • Every hatched baby will not survive.
    Nothing is more frustrating than having a baby snake just refuse to eat. After you have raised up the parents for a few years, done all of the voodoo necessary to get them to breed, and taken meticulous care at incubating the eggs to get a successful hatching, one of your 'pride and joys' is trying to starve himself to death. And, yes, a snake will starve itself to death. This is when you discover the joy of splitting the heads of pinky mice with a razor, or cutting off tails and legs of mice to shove down a snake's unwilling throat, or capturing lizards to rub things YOU want the snake to eat against them to scent it. This is the true test of your patience.<br><br>

    As a general rule of thumb, plan on the prettiest animal in the clutch to be the biggest pain to get feeding.
  • Every hatched snake will not be of the sex you want it to be.
    It is not unusual to get a clutch of snakes that is either very heavily weighted with one sex or even 100 percent one sex. There is nothing you can do about it, so yell and cuss all your want for 10 or 15 minutes and then get on with your life.
  • Every snake you sex will not be done correctly.
    Your pencils DO have erasers on them, don't they? Remember how mad you got when you found out that your supplier had mis-sexed the snakes you got? My word of advice: Don't sex more than 25 snakes at a sitting. Trust me on this.
  • The snakes that were so much in demand when you bought yours may not stay in demand.
    Remember all of those people at the reptile shows? They all had the same idea you did. Buy a few snakes, raise them up, breed them, then sell the babies. Well, guess what? If they were all successful, there are now a LOT of those snakes out there for sale. And there is probably someone else with the same ones you have that is willing to sell them much cheaper than you want to.
  • The fertility of your animals will be inversely proportional to the value of the offspring.
    The more those babies will be worth directly controls how fertile the parents are that your are breeding. A direct reversal of the usual cause and effect phenomenon we normally see, and a direct contradiction of the physical universe. It sometimes helps if you don't KNOW they are valuable, so ignorance can be somewhat of a shield.

This is not meant to discourage anyone, but is to give you an idea of what it took to get that correctly sexed pair of snakes sitting in deli cups at a reptile show to the point where they are available for you to buy. It all looks so easy from the other side of the table, doesn't it? You want to know how to tell the breeders that have been in this the longest? Look for prematurely graying hair or rapidly thinning hair. These are sure signs.
 
Old 04-30-2005, 08:36 PM   #2
oldhand
That is quite an insight into "the other side of the fence".

I'm jut glad their are breeders like you, with the differant morphs and new morphs cropping up sometimes, i know i couldn't breed the amount you do Rich.

Thanks for the insight.
 
Old 05-01-2005, 12:52 AM   #3
Drizzt80
I give this post an A+!! Great idea putting it all down in writing Rich.

D80
 
Old 05-01-2005, 05:27 AM   #4
Russell
don't I know it...

I know it, and it's a good kick in the butt for me to remind me the way it really is when it comes to breeding snakes! If I recall correctly, you posted this before, or at least something along the same lines! Cause it's all SO true! I tell myself, gee, kind of a crummy year for breeding so far, yet really, it's a normal year...if there is such a thing!
Anyhow, this post should be printed up by all breeders who go to shows and put on the front of the table somehow for all to read! Anyhow, thanks for the reminder Rich, that I just need to expect all those little bumps, and sometimes big bumps in this ride we breeders are on! LOL! But the rewards, not financial rewards that's for sure! But the rewards of seeing new babies come out, new stuff, that makes it all worthwhile for me!
Russell
 
Old 05-02-2005, 04:06 AM   #5
Rich Z
Yeah, I've posted it here and there over the years. Made this up one year after a really sucky breeding season, I think. This is a lot like playing Russian Roulette, and I keep waiting for the year that my number comes up in the cylinder.
 
Old 05-03-2005, 11:04 PM   #6
E. g. guttata
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Z
Yeah, I've posted it here and there over the years. Made this up one year after a really sucky breeding season, I think. This is a lot like playing Russian Roulette, and I keep waiting for the year that my number comes up in the cylinder.
Hopefully that doesn't happen any time soon. If that happens, then I can see this forum going away I don't want that to happen. This is one place that I really enjoy coming to, sometimes just to look at threads that have nothing to do with snakes.
 
Old 05-04-2005, 12:07 AM   #7
Drizzt80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Z
<center>
<ol>
<li><B><I>All of the snakes you obtain will not be properly sexed.</I></B>
<ul>
<li>Everyone makes mistakes. Sexing baby snakes is not the easiest thing in the world to do. Anyone who has told you that they have never made a mistake sexing a snake does not stay in contact with past customers. <br>

<li>When you get your snakes, check the sexes immediately. It's a little embarrassing for both of you to have to call your supplier back two years later to tell them about the error. Plus you have just lost two years needlessly from your breeding plans with those snakes.
Boy did this one strike home! I felt like a 'tard' today. Was looking over my two motley girls that should be ready to brumate this fall, and noticed that their tales seemed a bit thicker than should a girls tale. Took a real close look and thought man those look like males to me. Granted I haven't perfected this stuff yet, but I'm getting better. Got out the probes . . . pretty sure their males. So that's -2 girls +2 boys! Kicker is, when they arrived last Spring I double checked them when they got here. Not only did the people who sent them make an error, but I did as well, so noone to blame but myself. (Of course I was fairly new to the whole popping 'thing' then anyway . . . nothing like a bunch of hatchlings over the summer to improve your confidence!)

I've been waiting on pins and needles for Murphy to catch up to me, and I think it's starting!

D80
 
Old 05-04-2005, 03:29 PM   #8
Rich Z
Heck, I have a couple of "females" right now with question marks on them. When I put males in with them they both went ballistic, heading towards opposite ends of the cage, or one trying to dominate the other. Normally a SURE sign you put two males together. Haven't had time to probe them, and eyeballing is not conclusive.

Truth of the matter is that the only 100 percent certain way to tell if a snake is female is when she lays eggs. Everything else is based on trying to prove the animal is NOT a male, and lacking that evidence it defaults to being a female. In effect, lacking any evidence to the contrary, THIS animal is a female.

Perhaps the evidence just hasn't shown up yet........
 
Old 05-04-2005, 03:35 PM   #9
princess
On that note Rich, I have a snow I bought as a female, probed a year later as a male and then this season he didn't perform at all -not even much of a chase..well just a little but as soon as she said no he was too much of a gentleman about it!. I know I didn't perforate a female and have a 'false male' result because I did it twice on both sides and there was no resistance right down the hemipene...so I'm labeling him as a 'non-performing-probable-male'!!!

How's that one for another murphy...Female snake turns male and then won't breed!
 
Old 05-04-2005, 03:56 PM   #10
Gallagher
>>

Quite a few years ago I picked up a pair of amels ... loved my male... well to make a long story short... both females have given me eggs for quite a few years... My male turned into a beautiful female we have named female lol


Angel
 

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