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FIRST REPRODUCTION

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Paul Miles one of the early pioneering herpetoculturist purchased a pair of captive hatched Boelen’s Pythons from the Miller hatching mentioned above. While raising this pair he also was able to purchase a long term female from Ron Tremper acting as a broker for Frank Retes. This female was large, approximately 10 feet, robust and clearly at a mature age and size. At the end of 1992 the captive hatched animals were three years of age and approximately 8-9 feet. Paul started to cycle the group in the late fall leaving the day time high temperature of 85 F at a constant while slowly dropping the night time low temperature several degrees every week or two. Over several weeks the night time low temperature reached 55 F. This was as low as the room would allow the ambient temperature to get at Paul’s breeding facility. During the temperature drop the male courted and copulated with the long term female but showed no interest in his sibling. This may indicate that she was not mature and therefore not releasing pheromones. The group remained at this temperature for approximately two weeks. Follicle development was evident, followed soon after with ovulation. At this time Paul started to slowly raise the night time low temperature gradually returning it to the mid to upper 70s F. During gestation the female basked throughout the day. The eggs were deposited thirty days after the pre-lay shed. Miles used a styrofoam box filled with moist sphagnum as a nest box. Paul remarked that this particular female was well mannered and did not detest during the removal of the eggs. The sixteen eggs were placed in a homemade incubator on vermiculite and incubated at a constant 89 F. The eggs were large, full, and white and remained that way until hatching 70 days later. Unfortunately only six survived, all the eggs piped but several of the hatchlings drowned inside the egg due to over hydration during the end of incubation. Artificial incubation has come along way since the time of this hatching and we now know that most tropical python eggs have to suffer water loss resulting in dimpling and brittle shells to aide in a successful hatch. Regardless of the learning curve six hatchlings was still an amazing feat. The hatchlings were marked with the typical rust colored bodies and light banding and weighed approximately 26 grams. This reproduction marked a great leap towards furthering the knowledge of what may be needed to ensure future successful reproductions.

 

While vermiculite is a good medium to incubate on, I suggest removing the eggs upon the first one pipping and placing them on a grid over damp paper towels. This will eliminate the vermiculite from sticking to the already delicate hatchling. Photo by Miles.

 

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One can only imagine the excitement and joy Paul must have felt opening the lid to the nest box the very first time. Photo by Miles.

The first ever captive produced Morelia boeleni emerging from the egg. Photo by Miles.

 

     

© 2007 Marc A. Spataro