After laying their clutch of eggs, female ball pythons coil around their clutches until hatched (after approximately 2 months). Hatchlings are immediately independent, but remain in the vicinity for months after.
Mating System: polygynandrous (promiscuous)
Ball pythons have long reproductive lives that last from about 27 months to 30 years. The breeding season is primarily from mid-September through mid-November, correlating with the minor rainy season. A clutch is from 1 to 11 eggs. The eggs typically adhere to each other. A few days before hatching they lose their adhesion. After the eggs are no longer attached and are ready to hatch, baby ball pythons slit the shells with their egg tooth and work their way out. Weight at birth is 65 to 103 grams, with an average of 86 grams. Female ball pythons reach reproductive maturity from 27 to 31 months. Males reach reproductive maturity at 16 to 18 months. Both male and female ball pythons have large cloacal spurs.
Humans can determine python sex by placing a probe through the cloacal spur and into the inverted hemipenis. The probe will travel deeper into the base of the tail for male ball pythons, spanning 8 to 10 subcaudal scales in contrast to females in which the probe may be only inserted a distance of 2 to 4 subcaudal scales.
Breeding interval: Breeding occurs yearly.
Breeding season: Breeding is from mid-September through mid-November, correlating with the minor rainy season.
Range number of offspring: 1 to 11.
Range gestation period: 44 to 54 days.
Range birth mass: 65 to 103 g.
Average birth mass: 86 g.
Average time to independence: 1 minutes.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 27 to 31 months.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 16 to 18 months.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous
Average number of offspring: 7.
Once female ball pythons lay their eggs, they consistently ball around the eggs for protection. Ball pythons also stay in close proximity to eggs to protect them from predators.
Parental Investment: female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female)
- Aubret, F., X. Bonnter, R. Shine, S. Maumelat. 2002. Clutch size manipulation, hatching success and offspring phenotype in the ball python ( Python regius ). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 78: 263–272.
- De Vosjoli, P., R. Klingenberg, T. Barker, D. Barker. 1995. Ball Python Manual. Santee, California: Advanced Vivarium Systems.
- Ellis, T., M. Chappell. 1986. Metabolism, temperature relations, maternal behavior, and reproductive energetics in the ball python (Pythonregius). Journal of Comparative Physiology B, 157/3: 393-403.