Relevant Male Snake Anatomy
Male snakes have a pair of hemipenes (sex organs) that normally sit (inverted) inside the snake from the cloaca down along the tail on either side of the snake's midline.
Since the sex organs are held internally, sexing visually is difficult, but there are visible clues. Because of the presence of the hemipenes, these visual clues relate to the shape and lenght of the tail:
- Male: tail thicker and longer than in females, and also tapers less evenly to the tip (thicker for a bit then suddenly thinning).
- Females: tail thinner and shorter than in males, and tapers smoothly, evenly and more quickly.
Probing a snake involves inserting a thin metal rod (probe) into the vent or cloaca. The probe can be inserted further in males due to the presence of the spaces in which the hemipenes sit. This method is best left to the pros because inserting the probe incorrectly can badly injure the snake.
In very young snakes, the hemipenes can often be visualized with a fairly simple maneuver called popping. It is recommended that you do not try this yourself either, though; if done incorrectly, the snake could be injured (or at best you might just get the sex wrong).