Breeding Corn Snakes
BREEDING CORN SNAKES WITHOUT BRUMATION
Brumation is a natural process in snakes which may be equal with hibernation in mammals. Opinions are quite divided when talking about the necessity of brumation.
The point of brumation is to prepare snake for the next season as it triggers ovulation in females and production of viable sperm in males. Snakes that live in captivity may skip the brumation period due to artificial conditions they’re living in. And of course, the decision of the owner.
Some breeders ask a question about whether is it necessary to brumate or not in order to accomplish successful mating, fertile eggs, and healthy offspring. More important than brumation itself is that before mating season sexes must be separated. In other words, males and females shouldn’t be spending time together in the same vivarium before the mating season starts. Since the brumation period starts in mid-November and ends by the end of February, a breeder should keep the same, usual, everyday conditions during these months in order to skip the brumation.
What are the risks? The major risk of skipping brumation before breeding is the absence of breeding. But even this is not certain. According to some breeders, corn snakes respond both to photoperiod and brumation by bringing on breeding. Since it is a living organism with all of its needs and biorhythm the best advice to follow is to observe and listen to your snake’s body. If there’s a need for brumation then give them a little time. That would also save your money for a couple of months since you won’t need to buy food, supplements, and substrates. On the other hand, if they feel ready to mate without brumation, then go for it!
CORN SNAKE BREEDING SEASON BEHAVIOR
Generally speaking, after brumation period snakes are ready to reproduce themselves. Some say two or three weeks have to pass, others that after the fifth meal it is the right time for them to start mating.
Anyhow, an important sign which foregoes mating is shedding. At this time, males and females are still separated.
Shedding is a natural process of growing new skin and taking off old layers of skin. Observing carefully, one can notice the color change of the eyes which turn bluish. Old skin becomes dull and belly parts turn into tone color similar to pink. Ther signs include appetite change, some might want to hide and become overly defensive.
In females their appearance change which can point out that they’re ready for breeding. In the posterior parts of a female’s body, swelling can be notable. This indicates that ovulation happened. In other words, there is quite a number of egg cells in her body. The snake may look like it is slightly overfed, but notice that swellings are relatively soft and located laterally in her posterior parts.
If a female snake is ready for mating, the male snake is ready too. After placing them together you can notice male becoming active and very eager to interact with a new female in his surrounding. Sometimes males may make specific moves which look a lot like muscle spasms. After noticing the female, the male comes closer and they both tend to line up their bodies. Their tails move a bit up or wrap around each other. Those positions ensure the most intimate contact so the hemipenes may penetrate the female’s body.
In some cases, when breeder himself is not quite sure about sexes, it can happen that two males get together by mistake. If this happens, you will notice opposite rivalry, aggressive fighting and even bitting, just like a strength contest. Don’t be surprised, just separate the (obvious) males.
INCUBATING CORN SNAKE EGGS
Next step is incubation. It is a simple process of setting convenient artificial conditions which can help maturation of the eggs.
What you need is a container with a mobile lid and a medium placed in it. Several substances may be used as a medium: vermiculite, peat moss, perlite. Those specific materials provide good insulation so they are used for heat conserving.
Before placing the medium in the container you must clean it well. Use any kind of liquid disinfectant for cleaning.
After the female has laid her eggs, remove them gently. Be careful since the eggs are softer than bird’s eggs. It is desirable to transport them and place them in the container in the same orientation. Place the eggs in the medium then move the lid over. Provide good ventilation so that mold will not harm the eggs.
As you finished setting up the container, you may place it in the incubator. The incubator will provide the desired temperature during the next couple of weeks. It is recommended to maintain 78-84°F and expect the babies in the next two months. In some rare situations, you may need to be a little more patient, even if you followed the exact instructions. So don’t panic, just keep the same temperature until the eggs hatch.
But incubator is not a must. If you don’t have an incubator you may freely place the container in another place which meets temperature standards. That means that you can place it elsewhere as long as the temperature is at least 78°F.
Monitor the eggs. It is recommended to check up on them a few times a week. Try ventilating once a fortnight, since eggs also breathe. In addition, keep the humidity on the optimal level.
CORN SNAKE MORPHS
Breeding this significant species gave us a chance to combine individuals with various characteristics so the offspring would look a lot like one imagined. In other words, it would have desirable characteristics and appearance.
There are more than 700 morphs in the corn snake breed.
According to genetics, the number of combinations is countless. The more combined – the more varieties there are.
Every parent gives a gene for each characteristics children inherit. There’s a chance of expressing each gene named in percents.
For the dominant characteristics such as the darker color of the body pattern or darker eye color, there is only one gene enough for expressing the specific characteristic. In other words, if a parent is darker colored and another one is pale colored there’s a chance that 3 of 4 children will be dark colored. But only one of the three dark-colored individuals is the dominant homozygote for a specific characteristic (inherited the same gene for one characteristic). And the rest of two semi-dark colored children may have one dominant gene from one parent and one recessive gene inherited from another parent. In this state, the recessive gene can’t be expressed but it can be passed on to another generation.
Recessive characteristics determined by recessive genes are expressed only in the case of recessive homozygotes. It means that two recessive genes need to be inherited by each parent. Recessive characteristics are pale colored body pattern and pale-colored eyes. Generally speaking, recessive inheritance is most undesirable, since many diseases and conditions are passed on.
Wild types as general phenotypes are the basis for the rest of other subtypes. As you may notice all the single recessive types (Amelanistic, Cinder, Diffused, Lavander, Sunrise, Terrazzo) have the pale phenotype.
SINGLE INCOMPLETE DOMINANT
Single incomplete dominant (or heterozygotes) such as Het Palmento looks more pallid than wild type. Even paler Palmento is.
Single dominant types (Masque, Tessera) inherit a more colorful pattern with striking pigment.
Double, triple and quad traits include two, three or four different characteristics combined in one individual.
CORN SNAKE EGG INCUBATION HUMIDITY
The humidity is an important parameter when talking about incubation in general. It helps temperature to spread more effectively and also, provides the eggshell with enough moisture. It is important because eggs are prone to dehydration if not treated well.
You should adjust incubator to a desirable temperature and humidity one day before placing eggs in order to achieve constant levels.
Humidity level is checked by the hygrometer. It is preferably for humidity to range about 70%-90%. Some breeders advise that higher humidity level is more effective. Adjusting temperature you indirectly adjust humidity as well. If the levels of humidity and temperature are higher there’s a bigger chance that offspring will be small but aggressive. In a different situation, when these parameters are lower, children may be calmer and slightly bigger than average.
As being said before, in order to provide humidity, you’ll need water and a material which is capable of absorbing the water (such as vermiculite or perlite). For the best effect, try adding water to the medium until it becomes kind of sticky.
In a certain temperature level, the air in the tank will be saturated. As the temperature rises, the water vapor conducts and all the eggs are moisturized. Keep the humidity over 70%. Although many suggest that high levels are more effective, pay attention. Don’t exaggerate!
Make sure to provide the ventilation openings. It is advised that every two or three days the air should be refreshed.
Note: Before including eggs in the process of incubation make sure that you remove the slugs. An easy way of checking which ones are fertilized is to place them near the light and notice if there are tiny marks of blood vessels. The eggs that lack those signs should be removed.
CORN SNAKE LAYING EGGS WITHOUT MATING
Parthenogenesis or virgin birth is a common phenomenon among some species. It happens to insects, sharks, some birds, arachnids, some reptiles, and plants.
It is believed that it occurs in older females that have never mated or did so long time ago. It is a natural mechanism of continuing the species in conditions where an individual lacks male’s reproductive material, such as animals living in captivity which are capable of parthenogenesis.
Some call it natural cloning. There are no conclusions about how it actually happens and what triggers it. It is believed that hormonal (dis)balance has a certain influence, but it is not official. Also, it is suspected that some bacterial or viral infections may trigger this process. Some believe that this occurs as a product of a genetic mistake.
What happens in the body? A cell which is formed at the same time eggs were, starts behaving as sperm and carries out fertilization.
So, the mother only provides genetic material for her offspring. That means children inherit the mother’s genes/characteristics only. That applies also to sex. The products of parthenogenesis are only female individuals since there’s a lack of male chromosomes.
Don’t be afraid if it happens to your snake who’s been living with you for years with no boyfriends at all. The offspring is normal and healthy, although it may be a bit smaller than average.
Some breeders noticed that sometimes even if a male is present, parthenogenesis happens. There’s not quite an explanation about this phenomenon, but it is possible and fascinating.
MALE CORN SNAKE BREEDING SIZE
Corn snakes, in general, tend to be 27.5-47 inches long. Males are naturally bigger in size compared to females. There are also, significant differences in size between snakes kept in captivity and wild types. Those kept in vivariums are a bit smaller regardless of sex.
In certain circumstances, even during incubation period future size of an individual may be affected. It is known that, if parameters are not as high as average the future offspring may be bigger than usual and a bit sluggish.
Due to hormonal status males tend to be bigger. More testosterone affects food intake and indirectly muscle mass. The more food they eat the more developed the muscles become so the bigger they may look. Even more important is the growth hormone produced by the pituitary gland. This hormone regulates growth in complexed organisms. Its concentrations are genetically determined and correlated to other hormones so they function altogether as a feedback mechanism.
Since corn snakes are carnivores their diet is protein based. Stimulated by testosterone, those proteins are included in muscle growth so males appear bigger and longer.
Only males that are strong and big enough win rivalry over a female and by that cause are predetermined to extend the species, but that affects individuals living in the wild more, or those living in groups in captivity.
Besides genetics, space given to a corn snake determines it’s growth in some manner. They’ll grow their maximum size only if they have enough room, so the vivarium must be big enough.
The rule of thumb says that the height of the vivarium should be one-third of the snake’s length and one square foot of floor space for every foot of snake.
What is important about breeding corn snakes is the so-called rule of three: three years old, three feet long and three hundred grams heavy. These requirements need to be satisfied in order for a snake to be in shape for breeding. Stick to it and hope for the best!
Breeding Corn Snakes can be a challenging task but can be very rewarding. Money can be made if you can get this right. The Corn Snake trade in the USA is a bustling business. Thank you for reading this articles, please read CORN SNAKES – IMPORTANT STUFF YOU MUST KNOW.