Sandboa breeding problems...


Dear VPI,

I have a question I just had a litter of Kenyan sandboas born this morning, 15 babies, 3 preemie, and 21 slugs. Aaaahhhggg!!!

This was her first litter. I have raised them both from babies. I have two questions. 1) I put the babies in some damp paper towel until they shed there umbilical cords, is this a good thing or should I put them right into aspen shavings, I figured until they shed for the first time in around a week or so I would keep them in some damp paper towel? Any other precautions I should be taking with the babies and the mother? 2) My other question is why so many slug to baby ratio, is this cause the male didn't submit enough sperm to fertilize all the ova?? Thanks for any help you could give me. Sincerely, Joe.

Dear Joe,

1. We keep our sandboas in aspen bedding, even gravid females. When they deliver in the aspen we leave the mother and babies all together and undisturbed for 12-24 hours and then put the babies on damp paper towels for a couple of days. Then they are put on dry paper towels (in high humidity) until they shed--then into shoe boxes with a very shallow layer of aspen on half of the floor space.

2. Your female ovulated prematurely--that's why there were slugs mixed with babies.  She also gave birth prematurely, the reason why there were preemies in the litter.  

The reasons behind that are difficult to know with certainty. It might possibly have happened because of she was handled at the wrong time; it could be that her cage was too warm; probably the most common reason for both premature ovulation and premature deliveries in boas are that the females are too fat.  DGB.

Dear VPI,

In response to my female ovulating prematurely, I don't handle the females through the gestation at all, So it must have been to warm, I keep my animals in a combination of aspen and sand. They are in sweater boxes with aspen with a 4 inch piece of flex watt going across connected to a Helix that I keep around 93 to 95 degrees on half of the sweater box going across from one end to another, the sands have the other half with no heat except from what is generated from the heated area. How do I avoid premature ovulation on in the future? Thanks for all your help.   Joe.

Dear Joe

Wow, I'd say that with a setup like that it's possible that you are overheating your female. A four-inch wide Flex-Watt strip at 95 degrees is really heating up the area. You're either going to have to super-ventilate your sweater boxes to let out heat, or reduce the amount of heat you put under your box. Our sand boas are in a room that in the winter varies from 60 degrees F to about 75 degrees. We use a 3/4" heat tape under the very back edge of a sweater box to create a 90 degree heated area.  

And don't lightly take my warning about fat females not being good breeders--it's easy to make a big female sandboas really fat. They look really cool, but they pass lots of slugs and dead babies. Bigger is not better and fatter does not mean more babies. DGB.