Answers submitted from
Kool, Daemonox, Georg, Steve, RaptorIan, MikeP, KSelaphe, sotexsgp & Timo
Beauty Snake Species: Orthriophis taeniurus yunnanensis , Orthriophis taeniurus ridleyi , Orthriophis taeniurus friesi , Orthriophis taeniurus mocquardi , Orthriophis taeniurus ssp . All Orthriophis species , Orthriophis taeniurus taeniurus
What diet do you feed your breeding adults, is it solely rodent based or do you include avian prey in there diet too?
Rob Kool: Mice, rats, sometimes a hamster and very rare a day old chick.
Daemonox: Rodents, both adult mice and small weaned rats
Hans (Georg): I'm feeding my adults with Rats and big mouses
Steve: Rats, Hamsters and Chicken chicks. During breeding season, the male refuses his usual small-medium sized rats but will eat 2-3 small rats or 4-5 fuzzy rats. He never refuses chicks. I generally feed 3 rodent meals to 1 avian meal.
RaptorIan: Diet is slightly varied, primarily rodent right now with some chicks, but I am going to switch to a 50/50 diet of mice/chicks
MikeP: I fed them mice as juveniles, and switched to rats when they grew past a meter in length. I have not fed them any birds, but would consider doing so.
KSelaphe: I feed only mice and rarely hamsters
Timo: Day-old chicken and quails consist about 60-70 % and rest of the diet is rodents. Young ones eat of course young rodents when so small birds are difficult to get but when snakes are mature, birds coming to the diet.
Toby (sotexsgp): I have only fed my snakes mice, up to this point - usually f/t, although I will occasionally feed live.Â I feed my breeding females very heavily, and also have always supplemented their diets with extra calcium dusted on their mice - a practice I do not plan to continue in the future. I may also try chicks next year, as well.
What temperature do you incubate the eggs at?
Rob Kool: Around 26C
Hans (Georg): 27-28C°
RaptorIan: 80F, being in the states and all.
Mike: I incubated my first clutch at 80F (27C) with a slight drop at night. The eggs hatched in 55 days. In retrospect, this was probably a bit too warm; two of the seven hatchlings had slight defects (an odd
bifurcation of a dozen or so ventral scutes in the first third of the snake's body). I will incubate the next clutch at 78F.
KSelaphe: The incubation temperature ranges between 26 and 28 degrees Celsius
Toby (sotexsgp): My first clutch of Chinese Beauty eggs were incubated at 82* F +, and resulted in several deformities, and dead in egg babies. The second clutch (2008) was kept at 78 - 80*F, and produced all well formed babies, but several (5 of 7) died in egg.
Which incubation medium do you use?
Rob Kool: Vermiculite
Daemonox: Have only worked with Sphagnum moss
Hans (Georg): Moist sphagnum
Steve: Vermiculite base with a light covering of sphagnum moss.
Mike: Sphagnum moss
KSelaphe: Vermiculite (0,5 to 2,0 cm in size)
Timo: Vermiculite or Sphagnum moss
Toby (sotexsgp): The first clutch was buried in moist sphagnum moss, and the second was placed on top of moistened, large grain vermiculite.
What is the ratio of water to medium used?
Rob Kool: 1 to 1 in weight, for some species I will make the substrate more wet, by making the substrate fully wet, then pouring all the water on top of the substrate away.
Daemonox: No exact ratio, damp but on the drier side
Hans (Georg): “light" wet
Steve: Unknown. I soak the vermiculite then drain it leaving some water at the base of the tub then sit the vermiculite in it. That way the water is not touching the eggs but the humidity is very high.
Mike: I go more by feel and intuition than measurement - my preference for incubation media is 'damp but not wet'. When I initially set up a tray of eggs, I soak the moss and then squeeze out the excess water. I check moisture conditions every few days. This method has served me well for all manner of turtle, lizard, and snake eggs.
Timo: I don’t count but well moist but not too moist
Toby (sotexsgp): With sphagnum, I simply soak the moss in water and then wring it out until no more water comes out. For vermiculite, I used a 1:1 ratio.
Do you record the humidity levels during incubation, if so what is it?
Rob Kool: I don’t record humidity levels
Daemonox: Nope, I just remoisten the top layer of moss as it dries.
Hans (Georg): 80-90%
RaptorIan: Only general monitoring of medium to insure dampness but not sopping wet.
Mike: Not recorded
Toby (sotexsgp): Yes, somewhat. Approximately 80% - 90% humidity using vermiculite (although I am not overly confident of the humidity gauge I used).
Do you manually pip the eggs, if so at how many days into incubation or do you wait until the first one pips then intervene?
Rob Kool: I don’t as a rule manually pip the eggs, but I would do 2 days after the first one had pipped.
Daemonox: They pip on their own, if days past after the rest hatch without some pipping then I cut to see what’s going on.
Hans (Georg): I don’t intervene
Steve: I did the first year as I panicked when they were 2 days late hatching and had heard tales about their thick shells. The egg I pipped had a fully formed but dead hatchling inside. The next day, all of the other hatchlings pipped all by themselves and were perfectly healthy so I assume that my intervention caused the death of the first hatchling.
RaptorIan: I do not intervene
Mike: I will only pip eggs that have fallen behind others in the clutch. Typically I will wait 4-5 days after the first pip before opening any others. This is a rarity in my experience.
KSelaphe: Only clutches of moellendorffi, because egg shells are very hard. About 1 week before hatching or wait until the first egg is cut by the snake.
Timo: No. I have been thinking, generally speaking with most of the cases, that if those don’t hatch by themselves, something is too wrong and because I want absolutely good and healthy hatchlings for breeding, I don’t help them out. Only most strength hatchlings will survive.
I only help them if reason for that is very good and it is the only way to add for the breeding group or important for the gene pool or something like that. Not yet that needs to do with taeniura ssp.
Toby (sotexsgp): After having some die in the egg in the first clutch (2007), I decided to manually pip the eggs as soon as I saw signs of pipping in one egg, in 2008. At nine weeks I noticed numerous scratches on a couple eggs, so I decided to slit all of them open. One immediately came out of the egg, after I did this, while I noticed that some of the babies were already dead, as there was no movement when their eggs were cut. My opinion is that the eggs were so thick and tough, that the babies could not get through the shells, and by the time I noticed the scratches, they were already dead. I plan to manually pip all of the eggs at eight weeks, next year.
Have you ever experienced fully formed dead in the egg hatchlings?
Rob Kool: No
Daemonox: None fully formed, but one about halfway formed.
Hans (Georg): No
Steve: See above.
Mike: Only with corn snakes, not with the species in this profile.
KSelaphe: Several times, especially in moellendorffi
Timo: Yes but not with taeniurus ssp. Sometimes it happened and in our collection connection between fully formed dead and female fitness has been true. Few years ago when I and my collection moved to another place, it was unavoidable that females ate lesser than normally. Next year some Boiga -species, Rhynchophis and egg-laying Macrovipera had that problem or they have more unfertilized eggs. When fitness of female has been fine, hasn’t been problem especially if diet has been correct for the species (birds, frogs etc.).
Toby (sotexsgp): Yes, see above.
If you have had problems with D.I.E, did you change your incubation technique the year after and was it successful?
Rob Kool: I have very few problems incubating eggs and would not my methods
Daemonox: Nope, haven’t changed anything myself.
Hans (Georg): I have been breeding Cave Racers over 4 years with out problems with this data
Steve: The following year, I left well alone and they all hatched like clockwork.
RaptorIan: No D.I.E. problems
Mike: Not applicable
Timo: I didn't change
Toby (sotexsgp): Yes - D.I.E.. No, the change did not help in that area, although I still considered the second clutch to be more successful, since all of the neonates were well formed, without deformities.
What do you think is the underlying cause in reported problems of neonates slitting their eggs?
Rob Kool: Substrate too dry/wet, first clutch of the female, female too young/small/weak for breeding.
Daemonox: Hard to say, so many variables from mothers diet, water type, humidity level, and so on; have yet to experience any pipping problems.
Hans (Georg): At the moment I have no idea
Steve: Unknown. I have never actually had any problems other than those I have invented for myself.
RaptorIan: Maybe what should be asked is are these people providing an outside source of calcium in addition to the usual dietary fare, thereby exceeding the nominal calcium intake their snakes would otherwise have.
Mike: There is some talk in the tortoise community about the lack of natural 'bio-erosion' of eggs due to incubation in neutral ph media, making the shells harder to pip. That may be a possibility. Inadequate air exchange in the incubator may be another - it may result in a build-up of co2 and other waste gases in the egg. Waste gas exchange increases as the embryo grows; perhaps too much of it too soon weakens the embryo...
KSelaphe: I really have no idea but I guess there are many reasons, especially the absent of necessary nutrients. The neonates have no energy to cut the egg shell or even the egg tooth is deformed etc..
Timo: My opinion is that cause in problems is weak fitness of female, and then hatchlings are weak too. Of course, there has been maybe connection between rodent-diet versus bird-diet. Many times wild caught specimen breed well and after few years they have problems and problems are normally difficulties to hatch. My work isn’t done yet but I believe if specimens in captivity eating only rodents, fat rodents, when normally eat mostly birds in situ then problems maybe arise.
Toby (sotexsgp): Too many possibilities IMHO. Maybe they need higher humidity, better aeration, different diet for breeding/gravid females, lower temperatures...?
Have you any advice that you could give to folks who are planning on breeding this species, or who have encountered problems?
Rob Kool: I don’t incubate the eggs any different to most species that I breed; therefore I am sorry I have no specific advise that I can pass on.
Daemonox: Not really, haven’t been working with the species for very long at all.
Steve: I have found that female freisi will eat small fuzzy mice from their first meal with no problems at all. Males however will eat them but seem to have a low frequency of regurgitation. I have had 3 regurgitations all from males with none from females. The regurgitation was some 3 days after feeding leading me to believe that they had trouble digesting the size of the food. I immediately changed to 3-4 pinky mice for the males for three meals and had no further problems. The following year I fed the males pinky mice and the females small fuzzy mice and never had any problems at all.
One of the most endearing things about CB freisi hatchlings is their TOTAL lack of fear. They quite simply ignore you unless you stop them trying to go where they want at which point they quickly bite from annoyance. I have never had any of my hatchlings back away from me or show any fear of me whatsoever and they are full to bursting with inquisitiveness. They really do give the impression that they are happy to be alive.
Hans (Georg): I think its important that the humidity isn’t too low -- I cover the clutches with moist sphagnum
RaptorIan: I do not recommend exogenous supplementation of their diet with calcium or vitamin/mineral supplements. No cooling period has been necessary in my experience, only a plentiful and REGULAR supply of food combined with a sufficiently powerful Low Pressure weather front in December has induced breeding, and even the low pressure front was not necessary. My snakes mate all year round, but do not always produce eggs. I'd say every third cycle of attempted matings has generated clutches.
Also, when dealing with a clutch in the incubator, increase the humidity levels in the incubator to 100% if they are not already there to assist in egg slitting. The eggs are thick but exhibit a high level of permeability to water compared to other rat snakes I've kept. I have hatched 4 clutches, each with 100% hatch rate so far. And no infertile eggs have yet been produced.
Mike: O. t. mocquardi appear to be very arboreal serpents; big arboreal snakes need room to climb and move around to maintain proper muscle tone. I recommend providing bamboo and other furnishings to give them climbing opportunities, and large plants in the enclosure help them to feel less exposed. This is a montane species that favors temperatures between 75-80F (24-27C). They like to bask after a meal or while developing eggs, so a basking platform under a heat lamp is necessary. I have observed copulation throughout the year, but it appears to me that a brief period of cooler temperatures and reduced light helps to stimulate follicular development.
KSelaphe: There is many advice but it is difficult to summarize here. Important is to keep the adult breeders with good food, because light weight animals are bad breeders and the embryos will develop poorly (see problems with dead neonates in the eggs). Incubate the eggs of all Orthriophis with a high humidity or in a moist medium like vermiculite (not wet !!!), because the egg shells of Orthriophis eggs are extremely thick.
Timo: Giving a lot of food then when specimen need to eat, after winter and after breeding (especially females) because those breed fatty of the year before. Giving to specimen a right winter, if they need low temperature, then they need to get that. Giving to specimen as right diet as you can, depending what it eat in situ. Giving to specimen as natural climate as possible. Example dry/rain season or cool mountain climate or very hot/humid forest climate and so on
Toby (sotexsgp): Please keep records of your data (temps, humidity, incubation length, etc.) and share them on the Foundation. Don't give up after experiencing problems - keep trying.