I had to stay up late because of a surprise upon coming home from work at 10 pm. I have been attempting to breed ball pythons for the past several months. Initially I was very optimistic, but towards the end very pessimistic. I had been pairing up 3 different females with one male. 1 of the females was very fat to begin with. I could safely assume the others didn’t become pregnant, but with this particular one I couldn’t tell because of her girth. Well, just when I figured the chances of 1 out of 3 were too slim, I did a routine cage cleaning and when I opened hers, my heart skipped a beat to see 2 big eggs. Immediately I rushed to set up the incubator (which they must be in A.S.A.P). Before discovering this, I had been gone for 2 days, so they could have been laid any time since then.
The urgency I felt was unreal. But also, I was scared to make any mistakes. At 11.30, I felt that the incubator was at the right temperature and humidity to move the eggs. I removed the female (who was coiled around 5 more) and moved the eggs one at a time into the incubator. 2 of the eggs were dented, which means that they were not properly humid. I panicked and got a spray bottle of water and sprayed them. The water was room temperature, but even so it dropped the temperature in their container from 90 degrees to 80. This is about 9 degrees too cold, and if they stayed in those conditions they’d be stillborn. I turned the thermostat up very high to compensate. After only a few minutes the temperature was 99. I decided to slowly drop it instead of panicking again and making it too low. Over a period of about a half an hour, I brought it down to 89, where it should be. The eggs became undented almost instantaneously. Things evened out and stopped swinging back and forth so much.
At this point, there’s no way to tell if they’ll go full term but I can only hope so. 2 thoughts occurred to me during this ordeal that surprised me. One was simply how much concern I had for the well-being of a species that wasn’t my own. There certainly was a monetary investment to this project that was at stake, but in that moment I wasn’t thinking about that, only that I didn’t want to be responsible for the non-birth of these snakes. I thought about how if these were spider eggs, most people would be happy to step on them. If these were turtle eggs, someone might coddle them only to make soup. And if these were copperhead rattlesnake eggs, someone would be chopping them up with a shovel right now. Sad that we only show empathy and care when the thing belongs to us.
The second major thought that occurred was even more troubling. I thought, ‘if humans laid eggs, abortion would be like throwing these eggs in the trash’. Now, you don’t have to point out to me all the problems with this. One, humans don’t lay eggs, and the womb of a real person with rights is different than a machine plugged into an outlet. But the general concern for the propagation of life was pretty foreign to me until that thought. Although I still keep a pro-choice outlook, it quickly wiped away my dark sense of humor about it and total disregard for those with the opposite view.
All in all, this was a humbling experience. I feel like a big pussy. If anyone could be emotionally detached from this experience, it would be me; and I’m not.