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Incubating Ball Python Eggs with Perlite

Sammy

New Member
5 Year Member
There are many different successful methods to incubating Ball Python eggs. Some folks use Vermiculite, some folks use Perlite, some folks use a mix of Vermiculite & Perlite and some folks use other incubation mediums altogether. Also, some folks don't use any incubation medium what so ever, which is also known as the "no substrate" method. Here I am going to cover how I personally incubate my Ball Python eggs using only Perlite.

I have had great success using just Perlite with my Ball Python eggs. Perlite can usually be found at any garden center. Make sure it is 100% Perlite without any fertilizer or anything else added to it. The bags are typically labeled very clearly. You will only need 4 basic things to successfully incubate with Perlite. The Perlite, water, a scale and an appropriately sized plastic tub with the lid (oh, and you will need an incubator). I personally like using the 12 quart Sterilite tubs for my larger clutches and 6 quart Sterilite tubs for my smaller clutches.

I personally set my scale to weigh in grams for this part of the process. First you will need to place your plastic tub on the scale and tare the scale. Which will make the display on your scale read 0 grams with the tub on the scale. Then add Perlite to the tub until the Perlite is 2 to 2 and 1/2 inches deep across the entire tub. Your scale will now show in grams how much perlite you added to the tub. Lets say for this example that your scale says you added 1125 grams of Perlite. Now you will want to add the exact same amount of water, 1125 grams by weight, to the tub of Perlite. When you are done adding water your scale should read 2250 grams. You can now remove the tub from the scale and mix the Perlite and water thoroughly with your clean freshly washed hands. Basically you just dig in with your hands and start mixing it all together being sure to get down to the bottom. Usually about two minutes of mixing is plenty if you are doing a thorough job of it. Put the lid on and you are done with this step of the process.

It is best to prepare your incubation tubs, like we outlined above, a few days in advance of your clutch being laid. This way you can take your finished incubation tub and place it in the incubator to get the Perlite/water mixture completely stabilized at the proper temps before adding the eggs to it. Keep in mind that throughout the entire length of the incubation process that I keep the lids on my incubation tubs. It holds the humidity perfectly in the tubs so you don't have to worry about keeping proper humidity throughout the incubator itself.

Once the eggs are laid it is best to move them as soon as possible to your prepared incubation tubs and get them in the incubator. Try to place the eggs in the tub exactly as you found them with their mother, you don't want to turn them upside down from how you found them. Ideally you want the eggs to be resting in the Perlite so that half the egg is buried in the Perlite and half the egg is exposed to the air in the tub. Many times you may have eggs stuck together and it will not be possible to get all the eggs buried to the half way mark. Just do the best you can in these situations. Most of the time this will not be a problem. Below is a pic of some eggs in a prepared tub ready for the incubator.

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I incubate my eggs between 88-89 degrees. It typically takes 56-60 days for the eggs to hatch at those temps. Throughout the entire incubation period I will go into my incubator every two days and remove the lid to inspect the eggs and wave my hand a few times over the eggs to allow for a fresh air exchange. This literally takes less than a minute to do and the lid goes back on the tub and the eggs go back in the incubator. Eggs do need oxygen to properly develop, so it is very important to make sure you get fresh air to your eggs every couple of days.

Approximately two weeks before the expected hatch date your eggs will start to dent in. If they start to dent much earlier than that during the incubation process you will need to add a little water to the incubation tub. A 1/4 cup of warm water should be plenty, but be sure to not pour the water directly on or too close to your eggs. You will not need to mix the Perlite and water when adding water in the middle of the incubation period. Just add the water and leave it alone.

You may also have an egg/embryo die during incubation. There are many reasons that this can happen. Properly mixing the Perlite/water mixture and making sure your temps are stable throughout the incubation period are the two biggest things you can do to make sure your eggs survive the incubation process. Sometimes an egg/embryo will die due to absolutely no fault of your own. It is life, it happens. If the bad egg is not stuck to any of the other eggs you can remove the bad egg if you wish. If a bad egg is stuck to other good eggs just leave it alone. It can not do any harm to the surviving eggs. If you are wondering how to tell if an egg is bad... trust me you will know. It will start to turn dark and then begin to mold. There is no mistaking a good egg from a bad one. Again, bad eggs can not harm good eggs in any way. So do not attempt to remove a bad egg that is stuck to a good one. You are most likely just going to end up damaging the good ones.
 
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