Python Shocks Experts After Laying 7 Eggs Without A Male Partner
A 62-year-old ball python surprised zookeepers when she laid seven eggs despite not being near a male python for more than a decade.
This snake might actually be the strongest, most independent woman on Earth. Sorry, Beyoncé.
The ball python hasn’t been given a name, but if it did it should be Queen, because she defied the expectations of experts at the St. Louis Zoo in Missouri when she laid the eggs on July 23 this year.
Not only does her lack of contact with a male make the pregnancy impressive, but so too does the fact that ball pythons usually stop laying eggs long before they reach their 60s. The fact she overcame both obstacles proves there’s life in the old girl yet!
Two of the snake’s babies unfortunately did not survive, but three remain in an incubator while the remaining two were used for genetic sampling. The surviving babies are expected to hatch in about a month, Fox 13 News reports.
While it might seem difficult for a female to reproduce without the help of a male, Mark Wanner, manager of herpetology at the zoo, said it unusual but not especially rare for ball pythons to reproduce asexually.
The snakes also sometimes store sperm for delayed fertilisation, meaning the ball python could have been holding on to her man’s goods for 15 years while waiting for the right time to give birth.
How the eggs were created will be revealed through the genetic sampling, which will indicate if they were the result of sexual or asexual reproduction, called facultative parthenogenesis.
Wanner said the snake is the oldest in a zoo ever documented giving birth, adding, ‘She’d definitely be the oldest snake we know of in history.’
The only other ball python in the herpetarium at St. Louis Zoo is a male that’s about 31 years old. The snakes aren’t on display to the public.
This isn’t the first time this female snake has given birth either, having also laid a clutch of eggs in 1990. That particular clutch is thought to have been conceived with the male, because at the time the snakes were put in buckets together while keepers cleaned their cages.
The female gave birth to another clutch of eggs in 2009, however those babies did not survive. The snake was given to the zoo in 1961 from a private owner.
Hopefully the snake’s most recent clutch will survive and will grow up to be as cool as their mum.
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Fox 13 News
Saint Louis Zoo/Facebook