Pet Snakes – Egg Incubation For More Sociable Hatchling Behaviour

by Helen Lowbridge
pet snake hatching

When you have a pet snake, you will want your snake to get used to being handled. Some pet snake species are more suitable for handling than others. Temperaments can also vary within a species. We handle baby reptiles regularly, so they become used to interaction. This has the additional advantage of allowing us to do health checks.

An article written in 2016 found that ‘eggs incubated alone produce asocial individuals’ [1]. Wow, so what does this mean for incubating pet snake eggs?

How Does Incubation Work?

Generally, clutches of snake eggs are removed from the mother for artificial incubation. Then they are placed on a substrate to retain water and maintain humidity, like vermiculite. The temperature is set correctly and monitored by a thermostat. Ideally, a digital thermostat is best.

Many breeders choose to cut the eggs gently open when they should have fully developed. Some will wait for the baby snakes to pip the egg with their egg tooth. It can take a little while for the babies to come out of their eggs!

You might have seen Youtube videos on reptile keepers and have seen the eggs from the incubator. Or you might have seen egg pictures from a reptile breeder on Facebook. Often the eggs are laid out spaced apart in the incubation box. Much information online suggests that eggs should be separated, if possible, to avoid mould spreading but is this correct?

What Did the Study Find?

It is interesting that the emphasis is on the importance of the eggs touching, which is how they are laid naturally. The research compares eggs kept touching in a clutch with eggs separated from each other [1].

The snakes that hatched from eggs touching were more sociable. They stayed closer together, were less active and covered less distance. It also affected the metabolic rate and the amount of yolk consumed at hatching [1]. Reptiles eat the yolk to sustain them for the first day or two after hatching. A greater amount was left in the eggs of hatchlings incubated alone.

What Could This Mean For Breeding Pet Snakes?

The study suggests that it could be beneficial for snake eggs to be kept together. This seems to suggest a better start in life for the snakes, a better heart rate, better metabolism and, therefore, they are able to eat more of the yolk and can rest and stay among other hatchling snakes [1].

Perhaps this even means that snakes from clutches of eggs kept together might be more likely to be better handlers. Because if they’re seeking contact and used to other heartbeats nearby, they might be more likely to accept contact with humans. They may also be more interested in breeding themselves.

Another study also suggests that there might be additional benefits to keeping the snake eggs as a cluster when incubating them. They suggest that it can allow the eggs to share water, communicate and reduce the risk of mould [2].

So this study says that keeping the eggs together reduces the risk of mould.

Final Word

The research suggests that we need to think about how snake eggs are placed in the incubator. Hopefully, more research is done into this so we can give our pet snakes the best start in life.


1. Aubret, F., Bignon, F., Kok, P. et al. Only child syndrome in snakes: Eggs incubated alone produce asocial individuals. Sci Rep 6, 35752 (2016).

2. Aubret F, Blanvillain G, Kok PJ. Myth busting? Effects of embryo positioning and egg turning on hatching success in the water snake Natrix maura. Sci Rep. 2015;5:13385. Published 2015 Aug 21.

You Might Also Like

Leave a Comment

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy