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Snake Gender Determination

SNAKE SEXING METHODS
by Alan W. Zulich
http://www.pythons.com/probing.html

 

This is for information purposes ONLY.
Under NO circumstances should this be done by an untrained individual.

Even then great care must be taken when performing either of these operations. Failure to do so will result in pain, internal damage to the snake, and even death.


General Snake Anatomy:


Introduction:

The gender of a snake may be determined by a few different methods, depending on the species. For example, male boa constrictors and pythons have spurs on either side of the vent, or cloaca. But the majority of snakes do not show clear (external) sexual dimorphism

Two commonly used methods to determine the gender of snakes are described below. They are “Popping” and “Probing”. Again note: under no circumstances should this be done by an untrained individual. Even then great care must be taken when performing either of these operations. Failure to do so will result in pain, internal damage to the snake, and even death.

Popping:

A juvenile snake may be sexed by the “popping” of the hemipenes. In this technique, the male sex organ is everted from the cloacal region of the snake posterior. Invert the snake, holding it steady with the left hand. This hand should apply finger pressure to the area above the cloaca. Roll the thumb forward toward the cloaca, putting pressure on the tail that will cause the hemipenes to evert from the pocket.



Probing:

Again note: under no circumstances should this be done by an untrained individual. Even then great care must be taken when performing either of these operations. Failure to do so will result in pain, internal damage to the snake, and even death.

The process of probing is more complex. Selection of the appropriate size probe is the first step. The probe may puncture the posterior end of the hemipenis if too small, or may not allow for ample movement if too large. A general rule of thumb is to select a blunt, stainless steel, ball-tipped or tapered probe with a diameter of approximately one quarter the diameter of the anal plate. The anal plate may be seen if the snake is turned over.

The next step is to select a lubricant (K-Y jelly, Vaseline, or mineral oil) to lubricate the probe before insertion. (Be sure to choose a lubricant that does not contain spermicide!)

Place the probe into the cloaca, on either side of the midline. Then rotate the probe anteriorly, with gentle pressure in the downward direction. If the probe has been inserted properly, it will move towards the tail, then stop once it reaches the end. Mark the probe to indicate this length and withdraw it slowly from the cloaca.

Try to assess the depth of penetration in relation to sub caudal scales. Males usually probe nine or more sub caudal scale lengths, while females probe between three and eight usually. Hold the probe up next to the tail to assess the pocket depth. Probe depths for particular species are available in other publications. This is how the presence of hemipenes is determined.






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