Snake Babies

These are the first pictures of the snake babies, born from 26/7/98 onwards. I haven't tried to show all 18 of them, since they look more or less identical at the moment. It's likely that they'll look like Cornelia when they grow up, since Sam's coloration may be caused by a recessive gene, but there's no way to tell at this stage. All of the first four pictures were taken with a Canon F1 using Kodak Ultra Zoom 800 film and a 50mm lens with extension tubes.

peeping outThis is the first glimpse of the emerging baby snake; it uses an egg tooth (not visible) to cut some gashes in the side of the egg, then sticks out its mouth and nostrils to inhale. Usually some froth is visible first; this is a mixture of egg fluid and exhaled air.
take a better lookNow it's time to take a look around. The baby can spend some considerable time in the egg before it decides to come out completely; while it's waiting it pops its head out for an occasional look around. If anything looks dangerous it zips back into the shell.
a small worldOne of the hatchlings with a UK pound coin to show its size; the coin is roughly 7/8" wide, about 22mm. This particular snake was the fiercest of the hatchlings; when I tried to pick it up for the first time it lunged at me several times and bit me twice. Fortunately its teeth aren't sharp enough to break skin. If this was a venomous snake I'd probably be in hospital...
take a napWhen all's said and done it's an exhausting world for a baby snake; this is probably their most typical pose, settling down for a nap.
Update 1st August 98: All of the original 18 have now hatched, and the first four have shed their skins. Another two eggs have begun to hatch, bringing the total to 20! There are 3 more eggs, but all look very dubious. (no picture)
after one shedUpdate 5th August 98: Almost all of the babies have shed, and are starting to show the first signs of their adult colour. Roughly half have accepted their first meals. Here's one of the babies, aged 11 days, after its first shed. This picture was taken with a Casio digital camera, and isn't as sharp as I'd like. The blue and yellow objects at lower left are pieces of sponge in a cut-down film can, a reasonably safe water supply the babies can't drown in. None of the remaining eggs is showing any signs of hatching. Sadly, I've lost two hatchlings; one died, probably through overheating, the other escaped from a defective box and has not been found.
Scanned snakeUpdate 3rd October 98: I've now sold some of the first batch. Their adult coloration is much more pronounced, reddy-brown with black borders on a lighter background.
Another eight have hatched from the second batch, and all have eaten; they look identical to their siblings at that age (see pictures above).
Due to work pressures etc. I haven't had much time for photography, but I'll add another photo ASAP. Recently I found a web site, which has pioneered the rather bizarre technique of scanning cats. Seemed like a nice way to get a good picture of the underside of a baby snake... In this picture the snake is under a plastic bag, held fairly loosely by some books (one is in the picture, the red shape at the top.) There is plenty of air. The vertical line is a fluorescent light above the scanner, the other colours are probably polarisation effects in the plastic of the bag.
Cobb &
Murphy Update May 1999: This is a VERY bad photo of the two young snakes I've kept; Murphy is the last of Sam & Cornelia's young; named for Robocop, but turned out to be female. Cobb is an unrelated male snake I was given as a swap for one of the other hatchlings. He is a little younger than Murphy and has some albino genes which make his background skin colour more grey than brown. At the moment they're about 18-20" long, and living in a plastic tank which is kept inside Sam's old vivarium. When they're a little bigger, and can't get out through the ventilation grille, I'll move them into the vivarium. (This was done in July 1999)
The next Generation Update June 7th 1999: Cornelia has just laid another 20-odd eggs; another very bad picture, due to poor light and too many white objects mucking up the exposure. This is more or less how she looked after the last batch were laid.
She laid another 12 or 13 at the end of July 1999. 19 of the first batch hatched in August 1999; all seem to be doing well.
9 of the second batch hatched in late September 1999; all are doing well; most of the first batch are now sold. All of this year's babies seem to be much redder than last year.
Murphy laid 6 eggs in November 1999; they did not hatch, which probably means that Cobb is not fully mature and is "firing blanks".
As of January 2000 all of the 1999 hatchlings are sold.

Cornelia laid 24 eggs of which 22 hatched in September 2000; as of December 2000 four remain unsold.

Murphy laid 6 eggs of which 4 hatched in October 2000; as of December 2000 none have been sold.