When snake reproduction season hits, female snakes start changing behaviors. Here is your guide on female snake breeding behaviors.
After a long winter’s nap, it’s usually sex, not food, that is on a snake’s mind.
How snakes mate is probably a question that has kept you up at night. If so you are in luck.
Here’s everything you need to know about snake reproduction and what behaviors you can expect from both male and female snakes.
Getting in the Mood
Female snakes set mating in motion by releasing a specific mating scent. As she slithers around during the day, she leaves a trail of pheromones for males to get a whiff of.
If a mature male snake catches her scent, he will follow her trail for as long as it takes to track the female down.
When he catches up to her, it is up to her to agree to mate or not. Usually, the male will stick around until it is clear she will not mate with him.
How Snakes Mate
Mating rituals in snakes vary from species to species and also depend on where in the world the snakes are.
Garter snakes in Manitoba, Canada form a snake mating ball but don’t do this in other parts of the world, even the neighboring United States.
If snakes live in cooler climes, the mating season may be restricted to the end of spring and beginning of summer. In tropical countries, snakes may mate all year. Some snake species only mate every 3 years.
Males become aggressive during breeding season. Males often fight amongst themselves to try to win the attention of a female snake.
When a female has agreed to mate, she will lift her tail so that her reproductive organs are accessible for the male. Mating could take an hour or up to a whole day.
Once a pair has successfully mated, the female snake will usually lay eggs. Some snakes, such as boas, rattlesnakes and garter snakes give birth to live young.
Yet, most snakes lay eggs. Some species of female snakes lay eggs soon after mating and others keep the eggs inside until it’s almost time for the eggs to hatch.
Female snakes will place her eggs in a nest and leave. Some species protect their eggs until they hatch.
Taking Care of Pregnant Female Snakes
Female snakes are very shy when they are pregnant. Ensure that you give her plenty of privacy.
Ideally, your snake’s habitat will have an incubation area where a pregnant snake can easily lay her eggs. A pregnant snake will burrow into the nest to lay her eggs when she is ready.
You can make a good nest out of peat moss, sphagnum moss or vermiculite. Keep this substrate moist but not wet.
Wet moss will result in hatchlings born too soon. This could lead to birth defects in the new snakes. These birth defects could include immune deficiencies and different patterns of color in the hatchlings.
Bottom Line on Snake Reproduction
Snake reproduction is fascinating. If you own snakes, it’s a good idea to be well versed in the mating rituals so you are not caught unaware.
Especially if you have female snakes, make sure you know how to prepare for laying eggs and dealing with a pregnant female.