Determining the sexes of snakes using a probe
Before explaining how the probing procedure is achieved, I thought I should first explain here how the tail structure differs between the two sexes and for those of you who do not know this difference this will give you a much clearer understanding of why the probing procedure works.
Male snakes have a pair of sexual organs that are called the hemipenes
. Each hemipenis
is situated inside its own tubular sheath or cavity that is found underneath and inside the tail of the snake. This tubular cavity runs from the tail vent, towards the end of the tail to a distinct of approximately twelve subcaudal scales
The female also have two tubular cavities inside the ventral section of their tail like a male but it does not have any sexual organs there. Because of this, the cavity is only slight, with an approximate cavity depth of about 3 to 5 subcaudal scales. Because of these distinct differences in depth between both sexes, the use of a probe inserted into these cavities to gauge this depth is ideal. Probing would have to be the most commonest method used today to determine the different sexes of snakes.
I have always found that although snakes don't seem to enjoy the actions of probing their stress is short lived and with practice can be done very quickly without any dramas.
When I have resorted to probing I find it quick and easy to place the subject in to a cloth bag or pillow slip and then only allow the back end of the snake to protrude.