This article is aimed to assist snake enthusiasts who are new to captive breeding snakes. The most basic step is figuring out whether your snake is male or female.
This is the most conclusive way of telling whether a snake is male or female. The act of probing involves inserting a metal probe (available at professional herpetological retailers) into the vent of the snake in question.
If the probe tip goes in all the way, it’s a boy. If the tip hardly penetrates at all, it’s a girl. It is that simple. However, there are some risks.
Probing could potentially harm the snake internally by puncturing the membrane that houses the reproductive organs. However, with a little practice and attention to detail, this method can be mastered by the average snake keeper.
Another method commonly used within the herpetological community is a technique called popping. The popping technique is really only commonly used to determine the sex of young snakes, like newborns for example.
Probing a baby snake could cause major harm to their reproductive tract and render them sterile, so popping has become the most common practice when sexing newborns.
Herpetological professionals describe the popping technique as putting your thumb on the anal scale and gently pulling the scale back to expose the vent.
With your other thumb, gently apply a slight pressure on the tail base (otherwise known as the sub-caudal surface). This should effectively “pop out” the male’s reproductive organs.
If nothing happens, or very little becomes exposed, you know you’ve got a female. However, much like probing, this is a risky technique which could result in injuring the reproductive organs of both sexes.
Caution should be used when attempting the popping method for the first time and, for safety’s sake, always have a buddy on hand to provide assistance.
Besides looking for answers internally, there are other ways of determining the gender of a snake. Python are simple to sex due to their external clues.
Most male pythons, such as the popular ball python, possess a set of claw-like spurs which they use to stimulate females during mating. These spurs are very obvious and are located near the vent of the animal. If you find those obvious set of spurs, you’ve got a male python.
Snake enthusiasts also use another external method to determine the gender of snakes other than pythons. When sexing corn snakes or other colubrids, just comparing the tail length is a good indicator of gender.
Male colubrids have longer, more slender tails compared to a female of the same species. However, this method is only accurate if two snakes are compared side-by-side. In addition, size can be an indication of different gender.
In the snake’s world, the female is usually larger, although many experts warn that this is not the most conclusive way to determine the sex of a snake.
OK, now you’re ready to move on the next step. Good luck with your future breeding endeavors!