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 Cerastes cerastes CB 2008

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Jon Kendrick
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PostSubject: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Mon 2 Feb - 22:13

Last year was my third breeding season with my Cerastes cerastes and I'm very pleased with the improving results. The two seasons prior have been trial and error for me as I have been unable to locate any detailed information regarding their captive propogation anywhere (though books do say they are regularly bred in captivity ???). Though my experimentation I finally feel that I am closer to having these creatures figured out.

2008 Clutch number one resulted in 20 F2 babies from 23 eggs. 2008 Clutch number to resulted in 23 F1 babies from 23 eggs (F1 male x LTC female).

Just a few quick figures to add to my brief story above;

2006 - 5% hatch rate from 19 eggs
2007 - 48% hatch rate from 23 eggs
2008 - 93% hatch rate from 46 eggs (first year with second female)

And now some pictures.......


















Parents of the F2's (both CB 2001).....



A few of the youngsters started feeding on live, unscented pinks within the first few weeks of hatching. Since then I regularly offer live mouse pinks in between trying about everything else I could think of (whether it made sense or not). I've tried insects (crickets), Natal Rat pinks, lizard scenting, frog scenting and I am running out of ideas. It seems there are a few people here that have bred them and/or know others that have and I'm curious to know how others babies were kept and started? I have force fed them a few times, but with so many this is not something I want to regularly practice. In my opinion, this is the sort of mind numbing repeatative activity that is likely to result in envenomation.

Thanks for looking and in advance for any thoughts/advise Smile

JonK
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Henning Vehmeier
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PostSubject: Re: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Tue 3 Feb - 3:21

Hi Jon

my CB of Cerastes become there first Pinky Mice after 8 Weeks. Not earlier. In this 8 weeks the RLF/Humidy is at 60-70 %. A friend told me that little cerastes in wildlife the first weeks live in there cave where they are born.
With this intervall i have good resault. From ca 20 Cerastes 15 eat alone, the next ones
feed the next 2 weeks without any problems.

I hope you understand my bad english. Smile

Regards

Henning
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Jon Kendrick
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PostSubject: Re: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Tue 3 Feb - 4:58

Hello Henning,

I waited until their first shed before offering live pinky mice. The first clutch hatched around September 17/2008 and the second around September 24/2008. Only a few ate right away, a few more started to eat in December, and even a couple more in January, but still very few of them have eaten on their own considering I started with 43 babies.

What temperature do you keep yours at and how are they set up? I have tired a few different things, but they are all housed individually in 4.5" diameter deli cups on about 3/4" of substrate and a small bottle cap for a water dish (though I only offer water every 2-4 weeks. I have found that they didn't do well on paper as substrate and don't do well at all if kept too humid (or too dry for that matter).

Even the ones that eat don't eat regularly. Some have only eaten once a month, some more often.

Thank you for your information! I can understand your English just fine, no worries Smile

JonK
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Rainer Fesser
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PostSubject: Re: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Tue 3 Feb - 14:55

Hello Jon,
I bred C. cer. many years ago and no longer have any of them.
Like yourīs, some of the babies ate pinkies right after their first shed. Most of these ate regularly in short intervals and grew very quickly, some others started within a few months. With some of the others I was successful with pinkies scented with lizards (Acanthodactylus scutellatus, a species of lizard that I had found where I also found C. cerastes). I had to forcefeed some for a while, a few up to over a year. Some of these started to eat pinkies, the last ones started to eat when they were big enough to swallow very small mice (hoppers) that moved quickly in the terrarium. The movement of the mice triggered their biting-reflex and the rest was like in adults - searching and swallowing.
I kept mine like the adults. Terrarium, sand and rocks, heated by a lamp. Temp. From 45° Celsius underneath the lamp to room-temp. in the cooler parts of the terrarium. The snakes were under the lamp in the morning, moving to cooler places later.
I could make a few eat by themselves by letting them bite a hopper, scenting a pinky with the dead hopper and offering it.

Good luck,
Rainer
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Jon Kendrick
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PostSubject: Re: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Tue 10 Feb - 22:35

Thank you for the reply Rainer,

Do you, or anyone else, know about the breeding season in the wild? Time of year/season? I'm considering hibernating some of the little ones that aren't eating with the adults this year and see if they will eat upon warming up. This is a trick I've heard North American colubrid breeders talk about from time to time and thought it may be worth a shot.

Related to the movement stimulating a response, I considered that when I tired offering the Natal Rat pinks. I'm not sure if you are familiar with this species, but they are born running, only staying in one place while nursing (it's kind of funny, actually, to see the little pinkies/fuzzies find their way around). Given this species is supposedly one of the most abundant rodent species in Africa I thought I would get a good feeding response with them. Most of the time, even my excellent mouse pinky feeding babies won't even strike and kill the Natal Rats, let alone eat them.

Though I have changed around substrates types and depth, sand is something that I haven't tried due to the season here (and I don't like commercially available sand). I'll see what I can do to find some today I think....

Thank you again for your input, both of you! I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

JonK
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Rainer Fesser
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PostSubject: Re: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Wed 11 Feb - 16:48

Hi Jon,

my C. cerastes started breeding a short time after I had taken them out of hibernation (12°Celsius, ca 4 months, totally dry. water-bowl with small opening, they could drink but not crawl through and spread any water in the terrarium).
I could watch C. cer. in the wild in southwestern Tunesia (rocky desert bordering to sandy desert) in march. We found a male trying to mate with a femaleand could watch them for almost 1 hour until they disappeared. As we did not take any animals I donīt know whether there was any copulation or eggss resulting from that encounter.

Hibernation: In many of my ratsnakes (especially Elaphe dione from Siberian populations)it is normal that the babies donīt eat until their first hibernation. Also in several of my european Vipers many of the babies only start to eat by themselves after their first winter. But in my C. cer.-babies I had no success with this method.
I also have Natal Rats. The C. cer. did not eat them sooner than normal mice (Mus musculus) though many of my other Vipers (especially V. ammodytes) rather start eating by themselves with Natal Rats than with Mus musculus.

Cheers,
Rainer
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Jon Kendrick
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PostSubject: Re: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Wed 11 Feb - 21:53

Hi Rainer,

I'm not sure I expressed my thoughts very well in that last post. I was wondering how close "winter" is to following the hatching season in wild, with the though that it may make sense for them to hatch only to hibernate right away emerging the following Spring when food is more abundant. These thoughts are purely based on speculation as I have no idea what seasons or weather patterns are like through out their natural range, and I imagine are quite variable too.

The other really strange thing I've noticed that I didn't mention previously is that some of the non-eaters look emaciated while others look just fine. The ones that have eaten for a few months look fantastic, obviously. I just offered live pinky mice again last night and had another first time eater take one...... confused

I obviously still have something to figure out with this species, and as frustrating as it can be at times I truly enjoy working with them.

Thank you for the input on the Vipera. A friend sent his pair of V. a. ammodytes to me this year to play with. I'm hopeful I'll be able to get them to reproduce, and knowing that would be another species that could make use my abundant supply of Natal's is comforting. On a somewhat related note, I've experienced many of my Rattlesnakes won't even strike a Natal Rat. I've been surprised several times with the various feeding responses (or lack there of) to Natal Rats I've experienced in my own collection. Anyway, not to drift to far off topic.

Thank you again for your response!

JonK
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Rainer Fesser
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PostSubject: Re: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Thu 12 Feb - 3:23

Hi Jon,
I understood your question like it was meant.
If I take my data of breeding C. cer., put them together with the time when I saw that pair in nature (mid-March), add a little time because maybe nights in spring are cooler in Tunesia than in my snakeroom, I would expect babies in that area in the second half of June to beginning of July (6-8 weeks gravidity, almost 7 weeks incubation). That is far too early for hibernation. And: Young lizards are abundant at that time of the year, the lizards hatch sooner than the cerastes. I suppose they mainly prey on lizards in the beginning and later add more and more rodents to their diet.

Some of my adult V. ammod. donīt like the Natal Mice. Bad experience. If these mice get bitten they often bite into anything they can get and some of my Vipers got bitten so hard that they became afraid of these mice.

Good luck with the babies and may all of them start to eat soon,
Rainer
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paddy fritz



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PostSubject: Re: Cerastes cerastes CB 2008   Tue 24 Mar - 20:21

Nice photos Jon, as always.
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