Cutting ball python eggs can save a python by allowing them to hatch from the egg even if the snake can’t do it themselves. Although it’s a controversial part of ball python breeding, it has more benefits than harm.
You can safely cut a ball python egg 50 days after your ball python lays them, but some breeders will argue that it’s safe to cut them sooner.
A good rule of thumb is to cut the egg after the first egg pips. Pipping is a crack, or in this case a slit when the animal starts hatching.
Let’s go over some reasons why we should cut ball python eggs and how we can do it safely.
Why cut open ball python eggs?
“Cutting eggs open goes against nature!”
It’s true. Cutting ball python eggs isn’t part of the natural process for hatching ball python eggs, but it can save a ball python’s life.
Ball python eggs are soft and leathery unlike a chicken egg which has a solid shell.
A ball python hatches out of the egg by using its egg tooth to tear an opening(or usually several). The slit in the egg is equivalent to a chicken egg cracking.
The egg tooth is a small, hard, triangle-shaped tooth that develops while they grow in the egg. Sometimes babies won’t develop them which lowers their chance of hatching out.
Cutting open the ball python eggs before their hatch date allows them to freely come out of the egg without having to use their egg tooth.
The added bonus is that you get to see what the ball python looks like which is helpful especially if you’re a ball python breeder.
When is it safe to cut ball python eggs?
You can’t cut ball python eggs right after they’re laid. The snakes need to develop almost to full term before you should cut them so that they have the best chance of surviving incubation.
Ball python eggs need a lot of moisture and humidity to develop fully. Cutting the eggs too early can cause the egg to lose too much moisture which will lead to death.
That is why it’s important to know when you should and shouldn’t cut open the eggs.
Ball python eggs hatch naturally about 55-60 days after the female lays them. This is the perfect time to cut open the ball python eggs since it’s so close to their natural hatch date.
Some ball python breeders have cut eggs open earlier than the 55 day mark, sometimes as soon as 45 days.
There are many breeders who have cut eggs as early as 45 days after they’re laid(mostly due to miscalculating) and the babies come out healthy and well.
Cutting ball python eggs any sooner than 45 days could be harmful to the baby snakes inside.
A good rule of thumb that I follow is to wait for the first ball python to pip. Once the first ball python pips it’s safe to say the rest of the babies are ready to come out too.
Waiting for the first pip to cut ball python eggs has been a success for the past several years that I’ve been breeding ball pythons here.
DON’T CUT BALL PYTHON EGGS TOO EARLY
The sooner you cut the ball python eggs the more of a risk you take harming the natural development of the snake.
Even though people have cut eggs as early as 45 days after they’re lay date, it’s not the best idea to cut them that early. There is still a lot that needs to happen after the 45 day mark before they hatch out.
If you accidently cut the eggs too early, just make sure that you keep the incubator or egg box humid enough for the egg to stay hydrated.
You should also look out for mold if they’re cut too early just so that you can separate them if you need to.
How to cut ball python eggs
We use a pinching technique that moves the veins and assures we don’t cut anything vital. Since the eggs are soft you can move the shell around so you can get a good position to cut.
Once we pinch the top and move the veins and the ball python to make sure they’re out of the way we cut across the egg to create a slit. After we create the slit, we can easily create a flap like we did in this video.
There are many different methods to cutting ball python eggs. Some people use blades, others use small scissor.
Nail trimming scissors are the perfect tool to cut ball python eggs since they’re small enough to have the maximum amount of control.
Use a lot of caution if you choose to use a blade because it can easily cut the baby ball python.
Some ball python breeders will even cut the top of the shell off completely. Even though this doesn’t make a huge difference in the development of the baby ball pythons we prefer to keep the shell on and just have a flap.
After cutting ball python eggs
After you cut the ball pythons eggs you have to put them back into their egg box or incubator so they can finish absorbing the yolk in the egg.
Even though it’s not too harmful to poke and probe at the snake in the egg, you should leave them alone to finish their time in there.
Once they’re ready to leave their egg they will emerge and roam around just like they would if they cut the egg themselves.
It’s common for ball python breeders to cut their ball python’s eggs late in incubation to help the snake emerge from their egg.
The hatch rate of ball pythons in the wild isn’t high, so intervening and helping the ball python can save their lives.
Ball pythons use an egg tooth to pip the egg when they’re ready to hatch. Sometimes this egg tooth doesn’t develop so the ball python gets trapped in the egg.
Cutting the ball python eggs 45 days after they’re laid has proven to be beneficial for the baby ball pythons.
It gives them the best chance at survival.