Mites, eggs and hibernation plans

We’re just finishing up the second mite treatment for the collection: after four days, we’ve removed the dichlorvos and are putting the water dishes back in. We’ve found quite a few dead mites in some of the cages, plus, I’m afraid, one small live one, in the ball python’s cage. This means that we’ll almost certainly have to do a third treatment. I suspect that the first dose (see previous entry) wasn’t long enough (it was three days instead of four), and the gap between it and this, second treatment was too long as a result of the vacation in the middle of it (they should be two weeks apart; it was three). Note for future reference. But we are killing mites — hopefully faster than they’re breeding. Cross your fingers.

The eggs aren’t doing well at all. Two of the four black pine snake eggs have gone off, but the two remaining eggs might still be viable. If they hatch, they should do so in a couple of weeks. It’s evem worse on the corn snake front. Pretzel’s first clutch of eggs was a total write-off, and her second clutch isn’t doing any better: all but one of the eggs has collapsed.

That makes this Pretzel’s second year of substandard reproduction, so it’s probably time to separate her from the over-enthusiastic Trouser and retire her from breeding. It makes no sense to have her double-clutch each year, leaving her utterly gaunt, when the eggs don’t even hatch.

I’ve also decided, I think, not to hibernate the potential breeders this winter. It just doesn’t get cold enough in the basement for the hibernation to help their fertility any. Not being cold enough means their metabolisms don’t slow down enough: they lose weight when they shouldn’t. My working hypothesis is that it will probably be better for their fecundity to feed throughout the winter — and put on a good amount of weight — than to spend hibernation insufficiently cold. It will certainly be better for them, full stop.

But with each passing year breeding snakes seems less and less of a priority. It’s labour, capital and space intensive, and there’s no money in it. (I make more in a week from the Web than I did all last year from snake breeding, gross, and this year looks no different.) Frankly, I’d much rather write about them at this point than try to build a visible snake-breeding business. If they reproduce, I’ll sell the offspring, but it will be very much a sideline.