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THIRD REPRODUCTION

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Jim Leware, owner of Stone Mountain Reptile Farm, is working with a large group of M. boeleni. The group of eighteen specimens consists of captive produced, captive hatched, and wild-caught snakes. James Cucinotta, the collection manager states that the collection is maintained in a room that has three sides containing windows. The windows help regulate the ambient temperatures as well as the humidity. Stone Mountain Farm is located in central Florida and experiences temperatures ranging from 32 F (0 C) to 100 F+ ( C) and a relative humidity usually greater than 80%. The adult Boelen’s Pythons are housed in eight foot Neodesha Goliath cages (8 x 3 x 3) and have full spectrum and red lights as the heat source. In the morning hours, one basking lamp comes on followed by a second mid afternoon. This allows the snakes to reach basking temperatures well into the 90 F (40 C) range. The second light shuts off before the first and the snakes are maintained at night using ambient temperatures (50 F to 80 F, 15 C to 30 F). Because of the high relative humidity the snakes are not sprayed or soaked and large cork bark shelters are used as hide boxes.

 

Leware’s female choose to deposit her eggs under a large piece
of cork bark rather than the supplied nest box.
Photo by Cuccinota.

Reproduction cycling consists of using the winter season and allowing the nighttime ambient temperatures to reach the low 50 F (15 C) range. A natural shortened light cycle occurs due to the abundance of windows throughout the snake room. Males are introduced to females and Cucinotta states that the males are fast to react with courtship. Copulations have been observed lasting several days both during the day and at night. The same female has reproduced twice, once in 2004 and a second time in 2006. This particular female is approximately 8-9 feet and has a slender, muscular build. Leware states that his animals are not power fed and that they try to keep the collection from becoming obese and lethargic. This particular female layed 11 eggs in 2004 and a captive reproduction record for this species of 19 eggs in 2006. Food was refused both times during gestation. The eggs in 2004 were incubated at 87 F (30.5 C) and 85% humidity using the no substrate method. The eggs hatched in 78 days and the fresh hatchlings weighed around 20 grams. Hatchlings shed in 12-14 days and readily took pinkie mice as their first meals. The 2006 clutch used the same methods as well.

Photo by Cuccinota.

 

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A picture of Leware’s first clutch. Morelia boeleni have large eggs and relatively small clutches compared to other python species of the same size. Photo by Cuccinota.

The first boelen’s Python hatchling emerging from its shell at the Stone Mountain Reptile Farm. Photo by Cuccinota.

Fresh hatchlings have a uniformed body color that develops with more detail, including banding, after the first shed. Photo by Cuccinota.

     

© 2007 Marc A. Spataro