Corn Snake Eggs And Incubation
Mating Corn SnakesOnce the adults have returned to normal temperatures a smaller than usual meal should be offered to get the digestive system working again, after that normal feeding can be resumed. We feed our females more than normal at this time to ensure that they have enough reserves to sustain them through the stress and strain of egg laying.
When the snake sheds for the first time after coming out of 'hibernation' that usually signals that they are ready for mating. We put the males into the females enclosure although that is only personal preference and sit back and watch and wait. If the female is ready to breed it will be obvious. The males are usually very keen and will follow the female around in a succession of jerky movements. If she is ready to mate she will lift her tail and the male will insert one hemipenis into her cloaca. They remain locked together for 10 minutes or more before separating. Once separated we return the male to his enclosure. To increase the chances of a successful mating the male is sometimes returned to the female after a rest of about 3 days for a second mating.
Corn Snake EggsThe female usually continues to eat everything that is offered for the next 4 weeks or so until the growing eggs make it uncomfortable for her. She may accept smaller meals or refuse completely.The female goes through a pre-laying shed which is an indication that the eggs will be laid in 10-14 days time. At this time we prepare an egg laying box for her, a large plastic cake box is ideal. We cut a hole in the lid about double the girth of the snake and half fill the box with damp vermiculite. The snake will burrow and push the substrate around until she has made a nest site she is happy with. If the box is placed in the enclosure when her eyes go cloudy the damp atmosphere will help with the pre-laying shed. The eggs are usually laid 1-2 weeks after this shed.The female stays in the box with the eggs and may be protective of them.
Once the eggs are removed to the incubator the female is offered a small meal. She will have a post laying shed after approximately 10 days the resume normal feeding. Hopefully we will have some pictures of this process to share with you as it happens.
Corn Snake IncubationAround the time of the females pre-laying shed an egg box is prepared. This is a plastic box about the size of a sandwich box.We make small ventilation holes in the sides and use a mixture of 6 cups vermiculite to 1 cup of water. Having tried various ratios we have found this one to be the best so far.This box is then put into the incubator so that it is the correct temperature when needed.
When moving the eggs be careful not to rotate them or pull them apart. Pick up the whole clump and place it in an indentation in the vermiculite. We have found that eggs on top of the pile tend to dry out so we loosely pack the eggs with the damp medium but we don't cover them. The lid goes on and the box is placed in an incubator set at 82 degrees F.
Ours hatch in about 60 days set at this temperature. The eggs should swell during incubation as the baby snakes inside grow. If the eggs start to collapse a long time before the expected hatching date they may be dehydrating so add a little warm water to the vermiculite and mist the eggs lightly. When the neonates are ready to emerge, slits in the eggs will appear made by the snakes temporary 'egg tooth' on it's nose. The babies head will then push through and it will usually rest at this stage to recover from it's exertion before emerging totally from it's egg. All the eggs in one clutch should have hatched in 24-48 hours. If any have not a small hole may be cut in the top of the egg to lend a helping hand. We never cease to find this whole process fascinating and miraculous.
We will photograph this happening and add them to this page as soon as possible.