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Old 12-27-2005, 06:04 PM   #1
Ball python egg incubation

Egg Container:

The Sutherlands use a Styrofoam shipping container as an egg box. The Styrofoam provides insulation against any minor fluctuations in the temperature in the incubator. A sheet of thick glass serves as a top for the egg box, allowing the eggs to easily be monitored during the incubation period without opening the container.

Incubation Medium:

They use a mixture of one part perlite to two parts of vermiculite. To this they add one part of water to five parts of the vermiculite/perlite mixture. All of these ratios are by volume. In the amounts they use for each egg container, it is 10 cups of dry perlite, 20 cups of dry vermiculite, and 6 cups of water. This is thoroughly mixed and placed in the incubator at least a few days before egg laying, to allow the entire contents of the box to come up to temperature.

Incubator Requirements:

The incubator you use will vary based on your individual needs. The basic design of any incubator should fulfill the following requirements:
1. It should prevent excess heat and humidity loss.
2. It should have a constant and reliable heat source.
3. It needs to have a thermostat to control the temperatures.

You should also put the eggs in a secondary container. If you build an incubator yourself, be certain that the heat is evenly distributed throughout. Placing the heat element at the bottom of the incubator can facilitate the even distribution of heat. Alternately a fan can be used to prevent the air from layering, but the air movement caused by a fan can desiccate the eggs if the egg boxes are ventilated.

Any incubator that is appropriate for reptile eggs will work for ball python eggs, as long as it is large enough to hold the number of eggs you anticipate producing. If you only have a single clutch of eggs, something as simple as a Havabator will do fine. A Havabator is a small, economical Styrofoam incubator that is available from numerous sources including local feeders.

Old 12-27-2005, 09:55 PM   #2
Nearly every breeder uses some form of rubermaid or sterilite containers for individual clutches. The Sutherlands practices are not practical for most people as I believe they have a room sized incubator which almost nobody has the room for. Also, when you state 89-90 degrees for incubation, that is the absolute highest end of the temperature range they should be incubated at. Ball python eggs will do just great at 85-88 degrees and you get better and more complete yolk absorption and less tiny premature hatchlings as when you crank it up to 90 degrees. Vermiculite is fine, perlite is fine, a mix is fine, no substrate is fine... what it boils down to is that there are many ways of doing things. If you see how RDR or BHB or VPI or NERD incubate bp eggs it differs from the Sutherlands and it works for them. I have experimented with humidity levels and temperatures incubating ball eggs the past few years and one thing you learn is that you do not have to do anything anywhere near perfect. Ball eggs are very sturdy and very easy to hatch compared to many herps. Heck, they put them in piles of rotting leaves in underground holes in Africa and they hatch just fine.
Old 12-28-2005, 04:23 PM   #3
Ball python eggs will do just great at 85-88 degrees and you get better and more complete yolk absorption and less tiny premature hatchlings
This is very, VERY true. For the first few years I incubated at 89.6 and there was always quite a bit of yolk left over. Last season I incubated at about 87 and I had some nice plump hatchlings, definately bigger than prior seasons.

And also as Evan stated, there are many substrates that can be used. We have never used substrate and have had very few problems.
Old 01-09-2006, 11:32 AM   #4
I feel everyone has their own methods and they all work. I also feel that 90 degrees is too hot. I maternal incubate when i can but if the need for artificial incubation arises i use a pretty old method and works great.

I incubate at all my ball python eggs at 82-83 degrees. They hatch out at an average of 67-68 days. One other reason i incubate at these lower levels is it is easier to keep humidity up. I have bee n made fun of because of my "state of the art" incubator. I use aquariums with fish tank heaters. Yes you heard that right, aquariums. I incubate all my eggs that way. Fish tanks filled with 6" of water with a circulation pump and a heater. Iris boxes from handles the eggs. You need to use DRY media in the boxes. The humidity within the fish tank is going to be very high allready.

I have never lost an egg this way and the babies tend to thrive real well. All my babies are an average weight of 80-85 grams post shed. There is never a runt of 55 gram weights that i have encountered since using this method.

I just have to laugh when i see everyone panicking or trying so hard to make it complicated. This is not complicated and nature has been doing it for millions of years without a constant temp. Fluctuations occur and it does not hurt the eggs.

I have hatched ball python eggs at 75 degree room temps before. There was no ill effects but there did not seem to be any benefits of these lower temperatures to me. There is no need to use high tech methods to incubate your eggs and if someone tells you other wise then they probably are the one selling you the incubator.

Just my opinion.

Mike King
MK Reptiles

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