Feeling for follicles


Dear VPI,
I hope you don't mind but I want to ask you something. Could you please explain palpating for follicles in as much detail as possible including images if possible. My female ball python is showing signs of been gravid, and I'd like to make sure. How long does palpating normally take?

My snake has stopped eating and she has been mating. After 2 observed rounds of copulations, she shed. I could smell a sweet smell in the cage. Matings carried on after the shed, though have now stopped I think. They both stopped eating, and for the last few days she has been basking in the water bowl and sitting under the heat light for prolonged periods. So I have been told that palpating is the last sign. I'm so exited. I hope to hear from you soon.
Best regards, dan

Dear dan,

Palpating follicles is a matter of running your thumb down the belly of your snake in the area of the ovaries to feel if there are follicles present and how big they are. The follicles can be felt as smooth rounded objects inside the body, tightly bunched together. They are not in the center, some are on the left side, some on the right.

Sorry, I don't have pics. We don't rely on it--in our experience, it is not a particularly exact science. I have met people who do actually seem to be able to do it, especially with thinner-bodied colubrid snakes. Generally, however, it's been my experience that most people who go on and on about how they palp their females couldn't feel grapes in a sock.

Our book would be a big help to you. The chapter on breeding and the chapter on incubation have more text by themselves than most books on the market. There are detailed pictures and diagrams of the reproductive organs of ball pythons.  DGB