The care and release of rescued Southern African Pythons

By: Carl Schloms

Over 40 Southern African python eggs were brought to the Dangerous Creatures exhibit of uShaka Sea World by Nick Evans. The eggs were being incubated by a female python and had been found by residents of Zimbali  Estate. Unfortunately the female had to be removed because the nest was too close to people.

The 18 undamaged eggs were placed in our incubator by the Dangerous Creatures team. Our incubator is run with a thermostat and the eggs were kept at a constant temperature of 31.5 degrees. The eggs were kept dry and humidity was monitored.  We candled the eggs as we were unsure as to how long the mother had been incubating the eggs. By candling an egg you can determine if the egg is viable and estimate the development stages.

In this instance the hatching process began after 40 days and continued for a week. The incubation period for pythons is approximately 65 days. Juvenile snakes will often remain in the egg for  a few days before they emerge.  In the end 11 healthy babies emerged and these were released in the Zimbali Forest Estate. It is hoped that these will find safe places to live, far from humans.