Are you curious to know the sex of your snake? If you are planning to breed your snakes, you really have to know if your snake is a boy or a girl as you do not want to commit the mistake of joining two snakes of the same sex in one enclosure. However, sexing a snake is not as simple as it sounds.
There are three ways to find out if your snake is a boy or a girl. You can make an educated guess by looking at the characteristics of their tail. You can get accurate results when you use the popping or probing technique. The popping and probing techniques are best done by professionals.
In this article, we are going to discuss the different ways how to know if your snake is a girl or a boy. We will also talk about certain snakes that are easy and difficult to sex. Further, you will find out if male and female snakes have differences in behavior. So read on!
Table of Contents
How To Determine The Sex Of A Snake
It is a bit difficult to sex snakes as they do not have exposed genitalia. At the same time, male and female snakes may look similar.
Even if your breeder told you that a particular snake is a male or a female, that information may prove to be wrong as the snake develops.
In order to be sure, you really have to handle and examine your snake. With that said, before you try any of the techniques, you should be comfortable and confident in handling your snake.
Similarly, your snake should have been already trained to be handled. (Just to avoid sudden nips and bites)
1. Check The Characteristics Of The Tail
There are a lot of snakes, especially larger ones, like pythons that you can sex, by just looking at their tail. Keep in mind that you are only making an educated guess with this one as it is not 100% accurate.
What you should take note of is the shape and the length of their tail. Take a look at the following:
- Tail is long, thick, and suddenly tapers out, it is likely that it is a male snake.
- Tail is short, stout, and gradually tapers out, it is likely that it is a female snake.
You can also count the scales from the vent (cloacal) of the snake to the tip of the tail. This can be done on adult snakes, results may still be inconclusive on younger snakes.
- 30-35 scales from vent to tip is female
- 40 and more scales from vent to tip is male
In this study, it was found that this method of identifying the sex of the snake has 95% confidence. Out of the 132 snakes they studied, 90% were identified using this method.
Therefore, even if this method is not 100% accurate, it is still a good way to sex your snake. This is a good technique to do, especially if your snake is not that trained to be handled as the process is a bit quicker than the other techniques and, most importantly, non-invasive.
2. Popping Technique
This technique involves manipulating the vent of your snake, by way of pushing against the upper and bottom parts of the vent in order for the hemipenes to pop out.
This may sound horrifying as a part of your snake’s insides are forced to come out of its body, but this process should not harm the snake when done correctly. Thus, not many people use this technique because it is difficult.
You can accurately sex your snake with this technique as you are able to view its sex organ. If you see two hemipenes pop out of the vent, then you have a male snake. In the absence of the hemipenes, you have a female snake.
When popping your snake, you should never twist the tail and forcefully pop out the hemipenes. You should only do a firm push against the vent.
Again, as this is a difficult process to master, it is best to let professionals do this if you feel like you will hurt your snake when trying this out.
Never attempt this technique, especially when your snake is stressed, as it will only add more stress to it if you do it unsuccessfully. You can check this article to see the sign that your snake is stressed.
3. Probing Technique
Another technique that has 100% accuracy in determining the sex of your snake is probing. This involves using a probing tool that you will insert inside the vent of your snake.
A lot of owners prefer this method compared to popping as it is easier to do. If your snake is trained to be handled, this can be a one-man job.
However, if your snake has the tendency to wander your body while handling it, you need another person to secure your snake.
Tools that you need:
- Alcohol/Hand sanitizer
- Lubricant (use water-based lubricant not oil based)
- Probing stick
Here are the steps:
- Choose the appropriate size of probing stick.
- Sanitize your probing stick with alcohol or hand sanitizer. You should also sanitize the probing stick in between probing different snakes.
- Hold your snake securely and find its vent.
- Slide the probing stick under the skin that is covering the vent.
- Let the probing stick slide down.
- When you feel resistance, stop inserting the probe.
- Mark the part of the probing stick that is at the opening of the vent.
- Take out the probing stick.
- Line the probing stick with the tail of your snake.
- Count the scales of your snake starting from the vent, in accordance with how deep or how shallow the probing stick dropped inside your snake.
- If you count 1-3 scales to the place you marked the probing stick, your snake is female.
- If the scales are 8 and above, your snake is male.
- If the scales are 4-7, it is still undetermined if your snake is a male or a female.
During the probing process, the hemipenes pocket may pop out, thus confirming that your snake is male. There are also rare instances when the sperms plugs will come out of the vent, so you can easily tell that your snake is male.
Are There Snakes That Are Difficult To Sex?
Generally speaking, all snakes can be sexed. The only exception is the Brahminy Blind snake which is parthenogenic. This is the only snake that can lay eggs and also produce live young without the need of a male snake. Therefore, all Brahminy Blind snakes are female.
Given that all snakes can be sexed, it is however a different story when it comes to ease of sexing. There are certain snakes that are more difficult to sex than others.
An example of this is venomous snakes like snakes that belong to the cobra and the viper family.
If you want to sex these snakes, you really need a lot of hands on deck to make sure that you are not bitten during the process. In a lot of breeding facilities that deal with venomous snakes, they sedate the snake to either probe or pop them.
There are also snakes that are non-venomous like the green tree python and other constrictors. However, they are known to be vicious biters even when they are trained in handling. A lot of breeders fell prey to the green python bite while doing the probing method.
Lastly, on smaller snakes, it is hard to do the probing technique. You must find a small enough probing stick so as not to hurt the snake. Examples of these snakes are Kenyan Sand Boa, African Egg-Eating Snake, Mexican Milk Snake, Western Hognoses, etc.
Do Male And Female Snakes Have Differences In Behavior?
Is it easier to keep a male snake compared to a female snake? The answer is, that neither is easier to take care of than the other. This is because there is not much difference in behavior between male and female snakes.
If there is a difference, it is always in relation to their external and internal characteristics as well as their reactions to reproduction.
Two studies were conducted that noted these differences, but, both studies concluded that when it comes to behavior in general, both male and female snakes behave the same way.
Here are the studies:
When it comes to snake temperament, it was observed by a lot of breeders that the snake’s temperament does not adhere to the stereotypical temperament of a type of snake. Rather, they usually take after the temperament of their parents.
Therefore, it boils down to your preference whether you want a male or female snake. It is good to note that people tend to shy away from female snakes due to the fact that they can have infertile eggs that they cannot expel.
When this happens, you need to take a trip to the vet so they can manually remove the eggs. Additionally, most female snakes are larger than male snakes (we explain everything on that here).
So if you are not planning on expanding their enclosure, it is better to get a male snake.
You can determine if your snake is male or female by looking at the characteristics of its tail. You can also do invasive techniques like the popping and probing techniques.
When popping snakes, you should be careful to not twist and bend the vent and the tail of your snake. It is best if you leave this technique to the professionals if you are not trained to do so.
The probing technique is easier to do. The rule of thumb is if the probing stick went deeper inside your snake (8 scales and above) your snake is male. When the probing stick is just shallow (1-3 scales) your snake is female.