STAGE 1 : ENDING THE SUMMER CYCLE...
Ok, so were now in late august ( 25-08-2003 at 22:13 !! ) and I wanna see if my snakes are upto some breeding.. I have to plan ahead if I want to make a succes of it.. In the coming 3 months starting from the first of Sept., I'll seperate the male from the mating-females, slowly start lowering the temperatures and giving them a shorter daytime lightcycle. I'll feed them less than before.( I Completely stop feeding in the second week of November ).
Currently I have to take the following actions :
# male and mating partners seperation : ( planned at 01-09-2003 )
# Every week I'll decrease the light cycle by 45 minutes ( three notches on my timers )
Meaning that it will go from 17 hours summertime as it is now, to 8 hours at the end of November. That also implicates a lowering of the average temperatures. It will drop slowly but surely to some 26 to 28 degrees. But also the ceramic heaters will go on a lower usage, letting the temperatures drop to around 25 degrees at the end of November ( that is day AND night temp ). If I wanna go lower, I simply replace a bulb with a lower wattage, thus giving off less heat. But 25 is far enough for me :-)
Giving ecothermal animals less heat, will result in a slower digestion of prey items. A prey that usually takes 9 days to digest, can make up as much as 14 days, or more, when it is colder. That is VERY important to remember for later on.. But it is also one of the reasons that I feed em not in winter times. Meanwhile I spray a little less, giving them the next 2 months to notice the change in humidity and light cycle... making sure there biological clock is getting the signs it needs.. Keep in mind that pythons that are cold are prown to everything they can have... NO DRAUGHTS !!!!!!!!
So I am halfway in the first prep month ( m/f seperation was at 01-09 ) and slowly the lighting period decreases. I also had some extra vitamins in the drinking place added. Vitamin A and D3. I replaced it after 3 days for normal water. They will get into molting because of that vitamin boost, but it is generally good for the snakes. The temperatures are still in the "normal range" and I am feeding the seperated snakes a bit more. The male had 9 rats this morning, and the 2 females will have a huge rabbit asap. Getting them well fed is a must befor you start the breeding preperations. Although the snakes must be completly empty ( no leftovers !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! in the digestion tract, they WILL start to rot !! )when I lower the temperatures to winter values, they must have a fat reserve to go into the winter stage. This slightly increased feeding will give that to em.. I now also have to make 1000000 % sure they are all in top shape when breeding is attempted, and I will monitor these snakes very carefully. If there's any doubt in their condition, there outof the program. I only breed the best snakes I have, so there will be less change of problems.
UPDATE 09-10-2003 :
Feeding is more frequent at the breeding snakes... get em well fed remember. So as we still maintain temps around the normal values, and only the ammount of light is decreased, the snakes will digest them still fine, than at lower temps. I am also changing the visible light with IR heat bulbs. The heat they give is fairely much, but when the ammount of ligt goes back, they still need a heatsource. This they cannot see as visible light, so the day night cycle is not disturbed. The enclosure in my livingroom is empty ( Morrison in QT ) so I can clean it out for the winterperiode. It will have a major overhaull...
Morrisons enclosure has brand new walls, new stones, new waterfall, a bigger ( total of 70 liters ) watertank and a new floor ( cover ) so when it is dried up, he will be in for a surprise :-0
Morrisons tank has finished the trial runs on temperature and humidity, and is ready to have Morrison back in there... But since he is coming up for a molt, I'll let him in the QT until he has a new coat... I do not move snakes in shedding process unless needed. Meanwhile upstairs, Melanie has molted, Amanda is getting ready to, and Deana also... Looks 100 % OK so far... The snakes are responding to the vitamins that I added to their drinking water... A and D3 to support them, cause feeding is every 2 weeks now... and they indeed show signs of a climatological change... and that's an added bonus... O yeah we are heaving kids next summer :-)
Summer cycle has ended, snakes are ready for the next step...
to be continued..