HOW TO PREPARE A LAY BOX | Back to Caresheet Index |

::How to Prepare a Lay Box

In the wild most snakes that lay eggs will want to deposit them somewhere warm dark and damp, whether it is in a compost heap as often preferred by grass snakes, a burrow of some animal or a mossy fork of a tree. In captivity if the female does not find an adequate laying site she may well retain the eggs and become egg bound. This may lead to need for surgery or in the extreme can be fatal. However some snakes will just deposit eggs anywhere and usually most inconsiderately on the heat mat.

What ever type or size of container you use, make sure it is clean. For larger animals if it has handles remove them, as the snake will often get stuck in them. (We once had a python get stuck in the handles of a plastic crate that was being used as a water bowl at a show)

The lay box size will depend on the size of the snake. A Burmese python for example will need a large tub such as a child's plastic toy storage box .e about 60 -90 cm x 60 - 90 cm and 60 cm plus deep, this should be filled half full with damp vermiculite, peat/compost (messy) or moss. With the lid off to allow access.

Smaller snakes such as corn snakes and Kingsnakes will require an ice cream tub. It can have the lid on or off, but I find these snakes a little coy, and they seem to prefer lids on. Take the tub and cut a hole either in the lid or the side wall about twice the diameter of the snake. Half fill the box with either damp vermiculite or damp moss.


The substrates can usually be purchased more cheaply at garden centres rather than pet shops. Vermiculite and moss are commonly used for hanging baskets.

Most Rat snakes and Kingsnakes will lay about 10 - 12 days after a shed. To prevent the snake laying in the water bowl remove it on approx day 9.

If the snake have sat in the box for a few days and then come out, rummage through the moss etc as the eggs may be buried, or the substrate has dried out a little s and needs redamping.

Unlike bird eggs reptile egg do not like to be turned, so when removing from the lay box for incubation try to keep them the same way up.

If the eggs are laid in a clump, don't try to separate them, incubate them as a clump.

©K. Hollingsworth