Snake egg cutting is a procedure that many snake breeders do, but not all. It can be done on any type of egg-bearing snake including colubrids, but today we will focus specifically on ball pythons.
In this article, we will explain the process of cutting your eggs and offer some tips on how to go about cutting your snake’s eggs if you have decided this is something you would like to do.
Snake Egg Cutting
What Time Of Year Do Snake Eggs Hatch?
Before I get into the nitty-gritty of egg cutting, I think it is important to have an understanding of the ball python breeding timeline because this will help you to determine when your snake eggs are expected to hatch.
Breeding timelines for captive ball python snakes are different from the pythons that live in the wild. This is because breeders regulate the environmental conditions, namely temperature, and humidity.
The temperature and humidity that are provided to captive snakes allow for a more predictable cycle than what is found naturally outside because there is no natural variation from season to season.
The only significant change one has to account for when breeding in captivity is seasonal changes due to daylight hours- not weather or temperature fluctuation like the wild ball python would be subjected to.
As you gain more experience, this basic understanding of your snake’s breeding cycle will help you determine the timeframe of when to potentially cut your eggs.
How Do Snakes Get Out Of Eggs?
When baby snakes are is ready to emerge from their shells, will first break through their egg sack. Once a baby snake gets through the egg sack, it will then make a slit in the egg with its egg tooth. Yes, baby snakes have a tooth.
As a matter of fact, many reptiles such as turtles, lizards, and certain snake species have an egg tooth. An egg tooth is not really a tooth, It is a piece of hard pointed skin that protrudes from their mouth, and it plays a critical role during snake the hatching process.
Why Do Breeders Cut the Eggs of Ball Pythons?
A common question I get about cutting eggs is, “why would I want to do this?” The most common answer is that most breeders simply can’t wait for the eggs to hatch on their own.
It is a time-sensitive decision for ball python snake owners to make. Cutting the egg too early can be fatal, but cutting it too late could result in drowning of the snakes inside because they are too weak to break through the shell.
The first time I did this, I felt like I was in that movie where there were 10 seconds left and I had to choose between the red wire or the green wire. Get it wrong…KABOOM!!! Get it right, and you save the day. I know, a little dramatic, but you get my point.
However, most people who cut their eggs will tell you that it’s worth the anxiety of waiting because they get to see one day sooner whether or not all went according to their breeding plan.
Is Egg cutting Bad For Snakes?
The answer to this question is not definitive as there are mixed thoughts on the issue. Some breeders will tell you that cutting your ball python eggs improves hatch rates by allowing more space for the developing eggs, while others believe that cutting eggs can lead to complications with yolk absorption or even cause an embryo to die before hatching.
How Do You Cut Open Snake Eggs?
The process of cutting ball python eggs is fairly straightforward:
- Clean and sterilize your hands
- Clean and sterilize your cutting tools
- Remove egg from incubator
- Cut the egg
- Check for response
- Place egg back into the incubator
Step 1. Clean and Sterilize Your Hands
Guys (and Gals), I can’t emphasize it enough to always clean your hands before doing any kind of invasive procedure on your snakes. Additionally, you should also put on gloves so you don’t contaminate the snake while it is still inside the egg.
Step 2. Clean and Sterilize Your Cutting Tools
Just like in the first step, you want your scissors and/or your razor blade to be sterilized as well for all the same reasons.
Step 3. Remove Egg From the Incubator
Remove the egg that you want to cut from the incubator and place it on a paper towel (marked side of the egg facing you). Once on the towel, pinch the dimple areas of the egg to form a small ridge across the top of the egg.
Pinch about a 1/8 inch seam. This helps you avoid cutting into the veins which will introduce blood into the yolk that will seep out as you start cutting.
Step 4. Cut the Egg
Next, take deep breaths and be calm—you are about to cut into an egg!
Using a sterile pair of scissors or razor gently cut the pinched eggshell along the seam that you created side of the egg until it starts to split open.
You will see the embryotic fluid start to seep out. As I mentioned in the step above, you might see some blood mixed in. Don’t freak out, this is normal.
Just keep cutting carefully along that pinched ridge you created until you have about 2/3rds of the egg cut open. Gently pull open (not fully!!!) so you can see inside.
Step 5. Check for Response
Look for movement in the egg. If you don’t see anything right away, you can try a little nudge to see if the snake inside responds.
If you see movement, then it’s a good sign that your snake is okay. If you don’t see movement, don’t panic, you just need to wait and hope.
Step 6. Place egg back into the incubator
In either case, place all the cut eggs back in the incubator because it’s not over yet. You need to let nature do its thing and wait for the hatchling to come out on its own.
Should You Cut Ball Python Eggs?
Cutting ball snake eggs is not for the faint of heart. If the egg of a ball python is not cut open at the right time, it can lead to some very unfortunate consequences.
As I stated earlier, If you cut the egg too early you could potentially kill the snake that is inside of the egg. If you wait too long before cutting into an egg, then any snake inside will be trapped and asphyxiate from lack of oxygen.
The best time to cut your snake eggs is around the 52 to 58 day window, or when you see an egg pip. Pipping is when the snake pokes its nose out from an opening in the egg’s shell.
When you see this, it means that the eggs are about to hatch and your snake is ready to come out of its egg.
When Can You Cut Snake Eggs?
Typically, breeders will look to cut their eggs around the 52 to 60-day window (depends on the breeder). There are a few rare circumstances that might force you to cut your eggs early.
For example, if you see mold developing on the eggs around the 45-day mark, you might want to think about cutting your eggs.
I once had a situation where I was away for training with the military, and there was a spike in the incubator while I was away.
When I came home, the easy hatch trays were full of condensation and the eggs looked pretty dehydrated.
That combination caused me, as a precaution, to cut my eggs two days earlier than I normally would. For me, I usually cut it between 54 and 56 which is right around the average timeframe I mentioned earlier.
Is It Safe To Cut Snake Eggs?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes. cutting your snake’s egg is relatively safe as long as you have the right type of tools and know what you are doing.
First, make sure that you use sharp scissors or blades for cutting your eggs. You want to be able to pierce through the outer membrane without any problem so it doesn’t take too much effort when making your cuts down the middle of each section on both sides.
If you are doing this for the first time, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND you seek out a more experienced breeder to assist you. YouTube videos are good, but nothing beats having someone walk you through the process.
Can You Pull A Snake Out of Its Egg?
As tempting as it may be, do not attempt to remove your snake by pulling on it to get them free, because it makes them vulnerable to injuries or death. It is best that you leave your hatchlings be and let them make their way out on their own.
It’s not uncommon for breeders to want to cut their snake eggs. The process of doing so, however, is a little different than breeding other animals because ball python eggs require special care and handling when they are being cut open in order for the baby snake to be removed safely.
I hope this article has helped you understand how important it is that you do your research before attempting any breeding procedures on your own or with someone else who doesn’t know what they’re doing!
If you have any questions about our services or would like assistance getting started with captive-bred reptiles such as these beautiful ball pythons please reach out – we love answering questions from new enthusiasts!
You can also check out my other articles on my blog.
Until next time, happy breeding!