Congratulations on your new snake! But is it a boy or a girl! Who knows? Find out how you can tell the gender of a snake.
If you are a new snake owner, you may want to find out the gender of your snake. Whether you want to find out for breeding purposes or simply get to know your pet better, it is pretty normal to ask how you can tell the gender of a snake.
How Can You Tell The Gender Of A Snake?
From visual inspection to probing and ultrasound, there are several methods for telling the gender of your snake. While some techniques may be simple, they may not be accurate, whereas other more intrusive methods give you the most accurate results about your snake’s gender.
Sometimes pet parents may want to know how to tell the gender of a snake. The problem is that determining the snake’s gender is not as straightforward as it is when it comes to figuring out the gender of cats and dogs.
On the outside, both male and female snakes look similar. But there are internal differences that can help you determine your snake’s gender.
However, you can only figure out these differences with a bit of experience and a lot of care. And while there are several methods to find out your snake’s sex, some methods can be used to decide the snake’s gender from day one, but other methods require snakes to reach sexual maturity.
Being snake breeders, we have ample experience in determining the snake’s gender using different methods, and that’s what we share in this post. Let’s learn more about different methods through which you can tell the gender of your snake.
While some methods may be more suitable for beginners, others are expert-only methods of determining the snake’s gender.
How Can You Determine Your Snake’s Gender?
There are several different methods for determining a snake’s gender. Some of these methods are very simple but perhaps not as accurate. However, other methods on the list are more intrusive or more expensive, but they are more accurate.
We start with less accurate, more beginner-friendly methods and move on to expert-only and most accurate methods of determining a snake’s gender.
Spotting the Visual Differences
Let’s start with the most basic method of determining your snake’s gender. Visual examination is the simplest method which is also not intrusive, so it is safe for you and your pet. However, since there aren’t always as noticeable physical differences between the two sexes, it is not the most reliable method of determining your pet’s gender.
You can use visual examination to determine the gender of certain species of snakes. For example, Python females are four times larger than their male counterparts, whereas, for rat snakes, males are around 14% larger than females.
Moreover, you can also determine the sex of the snake by looking at the skin color. Certain species have an apparent difference between the sexes, with male snakes being more vibrant and colorful compared to female snakes.
A visual examination may not be the most accurate method for every specie of snake, but if you happen to have a snake species where the sexes have noticeable physical differences, this is by far the best and most hassle-free way to determine your snake’s sex.
Examination of Pelvic Spur
Snakes have pelvic spurs on the bottom of their tails. These spurs are remains of what used to be behind limbs before the species evolved.
While these spurs no longer serve the purpose of hind legs, they are still used when mating to hold onto the mating partner. Moreover, they are also used for fighting to hang onto the opponent.
Since these spurs have evolved over the years, they are not always easy to see. However, they are located on either side of the cloaca. If you are comfortable holding and touching your snake, this is a good method to determine your snake’s gender.
Most primitive snakes, like constructors and pythons, have apparent spurs on the inner side of their tails near the cloaca. If you observe and notice the spurs, you can determine that your snake has pelvic spurs. But this information alone is not enough as both genders of several species of snakes have these spurs.
The important part of making this method work out is to find out how large the spurs of each sex are and what they should look like. For example, in pythons, the male snake typically has larger spurs compared to females.
The examination of pelvic spurs makes a reliable method of figuring out the gender of certain species.
Inspecting the Snake’s Tail
This method of determining the snake’s gender involves a visual examination of the snake’s tail. The male snakes possess reproductive organs inside their tail.
These sex organs are called hemipenes which are circular-shaped organs that you can find under the opening. Since male snakes’ sex organs can be found in their tails, their tails are typically wider and thicker than females.
However, it is not always easy to tell whether your snake has a bigger tail unless you have a female snake to compare your pet with. If you don’t have two snakes of different genders, you can rely on the pictures over the internet to determine your pet’s gender.
Before we get into the details of this method, know that it is one of the expert-only methods of determining your snake’s sex.
When done inappropriately, you can seriously injure your snake. Moreover, this method is most appropriate for determining the gender of young snakes.
The popping method requires you to run your finger and apply pressure on the underside of your snake where the sex organs are and try to push them to come out through the snake’s anal opening.
The method is most effective in determining the sex of younger snakes because grown-up snakes have developed enough muscle to keep their sex organs inside the body, and the method cannot push their sex organs outside.
If you cannot afford to get an ultrasound and you have to determine the gender of a younger snake, the popping method may be the most reliable method of finding your snake’s gender.
Another expert-only method to find out the gender of a snake is the probing method. The technique involves inserting a thin metallic rod known as a snake probe into the cloacal opening of the snake while the snake is awake.
The probe can be inserted further in male snakes as their sex organs (called hemipenes) are located on either side of the opening. Therefore, the probe will drop down further into the spaces.
However, that’s not the case with female snakes. The probe will only get down the opening to an average of 1-3 scales, whereas the drop is of an average of nine to fifteen scales among males snakes.
However, when using this method to determine the gender of a snake, make sure that someone is holding your pet still, and you use an appropriately sized snake probe to determine your snake’s gender without hurting it safely.
Perhaps the most popular and reliable method of determining the sex of your snake is to get an ultrasound which relies on the use of high-frequency imaging on a computer screen.
Using an ultrasound, which is often done in a veterinarian’s office, you can see inside your snake’s body and determine whether it’s a male or a female.
If you have tried other methods and have failed to find out the sex of your snake, resorting to ultrasound will provide the most accurate answer. The images may not always be very clear, but they are always clear enough to give you an idea of your pet’s gender.
However, this reliable method of finding your snake’s gender makes it the most expensive method, which is likely to cost you a significant amount of money.