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When deciding your approach to the captive reproduction of this species, consider that all of the recorded successful breedings share several common factors. The first and probably the most important is the lower temperatures used during the cycling period. It is safe to assume that this species can with stand temperatures within the 40-50 F range for short periods of time. The second is the age, size, and weight of the specimens being bred. Boelen’s Pythons of the age of five years or older and more than six feet long with a slender build seem to be the best candidates for successful captive reproductions. These criteria may change as captive produced populations are established.

As stated earlier, there seems to be no sexual dimorphism in this species. Several methods to determining the sex of Morelia boeleni can be applied. The best and safest is probing which should be done by a person with experience. With a male the probe will slide as deep as 7-8 subcaudal scales and a female will be as few as 3-4 subcaudal scales. Width of the tail behind the cloaca, and spur length are good indicators for sexing but are not always accurate. Males will have broader tails indicating hemipenes and spurs will be longer for courting females. Occasionally sperm plugs will be evident on shed skins which can be found at the cloaca region attached to the cloacal scale. “Popping” the hemipenes is not recommended at this time.

In the United States reproduction cycling has and can occur between the months of September and April. As with most tropical specimens, storm fronts seem to act as a catalyst for reproductive behavior. Areas that experience a change of seasons may be the best choice for successful reproductions, especially with wild-caught specimens. Temperature drops during reproductive cycling should be approached slowly. I recommend dropping the night time temperatures two degrees every week until your desired low temperature is reached. Also I would not recommend leaving the lowest temperatures for more than several weeks (two weeks has proven to be affective). Monitor the specimens being bred closely to make sure they are not experiencing any ill effects to the cycling regiment. The use of multiple males can only increase the chances of a successful reproduction but beware of putting two or more males together. I have witnessed male to male combat in this species, and while not extremely violent, this may have been an isolated case. My observation involved the two males pushing and shoving each other while hissing and eliminating urine and feces. When placing more than one male of any species together, I never leave them together for extended periods of time; also I use this technique only to stimulate particular males who show no interest in breeding. Fresh sheds or heavy misted old sheds from males will work effectively to induce reproductive behavior. Observations made by anyone who has ever had the chance to introduce mature pairs, has experienced reproductive behavior without the aide of multiple males. If fortunate enough to have a female ovulate offer several nest boxes both near a heat source and away. The first Leware breeding had shown that the female preferred the cork bark that was away from the heat source. As with any important breeding remove or replace the water bowl with a smaller sized one so that the female does not lay the eggs in it.

 

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Jamie Solas adult M. boeleni in a classic tail wrap.
Photo by Sola
.

A wild-caught female exhibiting mid-body swelling confirming that she is in deed gravid.
Phot by Baldogo.

Inverted hemipenes exhibiting sperm plugs indicating a mature male.
Photo by Baldogo.

     

© 2007 Marc A. Spataro