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Breeding King Snakes

 

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Brumation

In order to successfully breed King Snakes you will have to put them through a cooling period. This cooling period is called brumation. Start by increasing feeding in late April to give your King Snake the extra fat reserves it will need during brumation. In May keep your heaters on but cease feeding the snakes for at least 2- 3 weeks before you cool them down in order for the snakes to empty their digestive tracts. Any left over food will rot in your King Snakes stomach during brumation which could lead to a deadly infection. In June drop your King Snakes cage temperatures to between 10-15 degrees celcius for 2-3 months. The brumation temperatures can be slightly lower or slightly higher than this. My snake room has an average winter temperature of 12-17 degrees celcius and the King Snakes brumated in this room breed successfully. In early September you can begin to slowly heat your King Snakes back to their summer temperatures. Do not heat your King Snakes up to quickly as this can affect your male King Snakes fertility.

Mating

Female King Snakes will shed two weeks after they come out of brumation. This is called the post brumation shed and indicates that your female King Snake is ready to mate. I introduce the male King Snake into the female King Snakes cage. Mating behaviour usually starts immediately and the male will mate with the female very soon after introducing them if the female is receptive. Mating can last for a few minutes to a few hours. Separate your King Snakes after they have finished mating as King Snakes can be cannibalistic. You can allow your King Snakes to mate more than once to increase the chance of fertile eggs.

Egg Laying

Female King Snakes will go through a pre laying shed 4-6 weeks after successful mating. The female King Snake will lay her eggs 10-14 days after the pre laying shed. Provide a laying box filled with moist sphagnum moss for your King Snake to lay its eggs in. The female King Snake will spend a lot of time in the egg laying box prior to laying eggs. Check the egg laying box daily for eggs. King Snakes can lay 6-20 eggs but clutches are usually smaller than 20. The number of eggs a King Snake will lay is dependent on the size of the female King Snake with larger females often laying more eggs. Once your King Snake has finished laying all its eggs you will need to move them into an incubator.

Egg Incubation

Snake eggs have a leathery shell which absorbs moisture throughout the incubation period therefore you need to incubate your King Snake eggs on a moist incubation medium. I place my King Snake eggs in a plastic container filled with a layer of perlite a few centimeters deep. The perlite is mixed with water at a ratio of 1 part perlite to 1 part water by weight. If your eggs start to dent during incubation you will need to add more water to the incubation medium. Vermiculite can also be used to incubate King Snake eggs. I do not put air holes in the incubation container but instead open the lid for a few minutes a few times a week to allow air in. It is very important not to turn snake eggs and you must keep them in the position that they were laid in otherwise the embryo will detach from the shell and die. Incubate your King Snake eggs at 27-28 degrees Celsius. At this temperature they will hatch in approximately 60 days.

Hatching

Baby King Snakes are equipped with an egg tooth which they use to slit open the egg shell. When you see several slits appearing on your eggs it means they are hatching. You will eventually see the baby King Snakes poking their heads out of the eggs. It can take several days for the entire clutch to hatch. Do not attempt to remove the baby King Snakes from the eggs allow them to hatch on their own. Once the King Snakes have hatched remove them from the incubation box and house them separately in individual plastic tubs.