Hardbelly is a hatching issue that affects approximately 1%-3% of the hatchlings I make each season. It’s also a common abnormality that we saw with captive-hatched imports back when thousands of normals babies were brought out of Africa.
Hardbelly occurs when a hard lump of yolk is absorbed into the hatchlings belly during the normal absorption process. (Healthy yolk should be soft and have a yogurt like consistency.)
Without intervention, hardbelly hatchlings will die in about 10-14 days as the hardness grows to completely block the lower part of the body.
Quick intervention can be very effective though, especially if done in the first few days of hatching and if the initial hard mass isn’t too large. Often the snake will skip its typical first shed after this process.
If the cloaca is torn during the removal of the mass, the snake can be treated with injected antibiotics (from your reptile Vet) and topical antibiotic ointment. I’ve had success in these cases as well as long as the tear is relatively superficial.
I hope this video helps save some Ball Python hatchlings in your collection!
Warning, some graphic content, if you have a very weak stomach and the content doesn’t apply to you, give this video a pass.