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Posted by Rich G.cascabel on January 04, 2003 at 13:18:38:

In Reply to: Re: Blacktail breeders?? posted by Blackwater on January 04, 2003 at 06:01:10:

After the female accepted the male a couple years went by with no breeding observed.I had had lots of success with avrious colubrids, especially montane kingsnakes, and my thought process was along those lines. The molossus were kept in four foot long enclosures with an ambient temp of 65-75F (just the natural day/night variation in my room) with a warm area provided by a below cage heat tape at one end. The snakes almost always seemed to prefer the cool end. They were fed a medium rat every two weeks. I had seen many rattlers get obese with more frequent feedings so I didn't want to feed any more often than that. I knew I needed to change something in order to get results and I tried many techniques in cluding misting the cages when it rained outside etc. but still no luck. I have to give credit to Frank Retes for the ideas that made the breakthrough for me. Although I have never talked to him in person, I read his interview in Vivarium and was really impressed with the methods he was using for monitors. I decided to look at crotes in a different way. They have melanophores and change color from light to dark like lizards so why not treat them like lizards. So I provided a basking lamp and a two level basking area under the lamp, consisting of a large flat rock laying across two other rocks. The lamp was focused partially on the rock and partially off, giving the snakes the choice to choose direct heat on top or to be able to lie under the shelf with only a chosen portion of the body exposed under the light.

I also got to pondering if it were possible for a female not only to store sperm, but to choose when she would ovulate and utilize the sperm, and what would be the indicators to make her decide it was time? You always hear about sufficient body weight, sufficient food quantity etc. My female had both but she was not breeding. I thought that perhaps it was meal FREQUENCY that was the true indicator. I started feeding much more frequent smale meals, an adult mouse every four or five days to not only teh female, but the male also. I hoped more meals would not only boost sperm production but would induce more frequent defecation and help void old sperm. These changes made the difference the first summer they were implemented. The male started using his basking site in the early spring and then quit until mid Aug when he started again. The female never used hers until she shed around Aug 24. After shedding she went straight to the basking rock and spent three solid days. On Aug 27 she started moving about the cage a lot and I put her in with the male. The bred sever times for the next two days and then quit. I left them together till Dec 1st and then separated them for hibernation. When I brought them out on April 1st the female when straight to the basking spot and stayed till the end of July when she gave birth. She was fed on the 4-5 day schedule during this time. She didn't even leave the rock to feed. She just grabbed her mice from the rock and then resumed her coil. This is a regular pattern now. Although I occasionally put them together during the spring and early summer, they coil together compatibly but there is no breeding. I have tried putting them together on Aug 25th and the male showes interest but she just whips her tail and moves away. When I re-introduce on Aug 26th -28th she will breed, just like clockwork. And I can always tell when she is gravid the next spring from the fact that she utilizes the basking rock and her body position. When not gravid, or just preparing to breed, she NEVER uses the basking spot and prefers the cool end.

:If you began with wild caught animals, did you have difficulty getting them to eat in captivity? If so, what techniques did you employ to encourage them to feed? What kind of feeding schedule are you maintaining them on now (for either cb or wc)? Are you brumating the adults? Do you use a wet/dry or warm/cold cycle to get them to breed? Are your animals fall/winter breeders or spring?

It seems to me that molossus vary according to locality as to how easily they accept food in captivity. Some localities seem to be great feeders. Others(maybe most) are a real pain. I was lucky with my two adult snakes and the fed well from the beginning.....

:I could go on for a few hours, and I know that many of these questions seem like I've never kept a rattlesnake before. Truth is, I've never kept a Black-tailed rattlesnake before, despite my best efforts to beg, borrow or steal some, and I want to do them right from the beginning. I am contacting an wholesaler in Florida that is supposed to have some babies for sale to see about getting a "group".... my favorite color phase is that platinum-blue color out of Texas....

:Thanks for your willingness to reply. I *REALLY* appreciate your input and it is refreshing to see a thread that doesn't include a bunch of nonsense in it....


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