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Do Snakes Lay Eggs In The Ground - Amazing True Facts

October 27, 2020
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Having a pet snake is one of life's greatest pleasures but pet owners may have a lot of questions relating to how these incredible creatures lay their eggs.

Most commonly, people wonder whether snakes lay their eggs in the ground.

Snakes tend to lay their eggs underground or cover them with loose sand and soil. Snakes cover their eggs to protect them from predators and help keep them at optimal temperatures and conditions. Snake then often abandon the eggs and allow them to emerge from the nest some 5-6 weeks later.

In this article, we are going to be looking at where snakes lay their eggs and why - these amazing true facts are sure to surprise you!

Where Do Snakes Lay Their Eggs?

Snakes do not give birth to live young in the way that mammals do and instead lay eggs. But did you know that 30% of snake species do not lay eggs and do give birth to live young? These species include some rattlesnakes and other vipers.

However, when we think of giving birth to live young, we often imagine this in the mammalian sense where the baby will remain in the womb until delivery. In snakes, the babies are still inside and egg but these will hatch inside the mother's body. After this, she will then give birth to them.

In the wild, the snake must protect her eggs from predators and so will usually lay them under the ground. She will cover them with sand and soil as an added layer of protection, because in the wild, even being underground is not 100% safe.

Unlike some other animals that lay eggs, the snake will usually abandon the eggs once she has covered them. The babies take around six weeks to emerge from the eggs and at this point are responsible for taking care of themselves. This behaviour is common in various species but for some, it is absurd! Pythons and cobras do not tend to abandon their eggs.

snake eggs
Snake nest with eggs

How Many Eggs Do Snakes Lay At Once?

The number of eggs that a female snake will lay at any one time largely depends on the species.

For some snakes laying one egg at a time is very common, whereas other species might lay hundreds of eggs in a single clutch. What's more, the frequency can differ vastly between species. There are some snakes that will only give birth every few years.

Furthermore, the gestation period of a snake is completely different depending on the species. Some snakes are pregnant for just a couple of months but there are species whose gestation period is far more resembling that of a human!

Some pythons will carry their young for around 80 days although it is more common for these reptiles to gestate for around 28 to 45 days.

Do Snakes Lay Eggs In Captivity?

One of the most common worries for exotic pet owners is not whether snakes lay eggs in the ground but whether they can expect their beloved pet to start laying eggs in captivity.

Much like any other animal, snakes cannot reproduce without a male and a female mating. The way in which snakes do this is rather interesting and since you're here for amazing facts - the male snake has two reproductive organs, unlike other animals who just have the one.

In snakes, these are known as the hemipenis and both are inserted into the female where sperm is released, therefore impregnating her.

It may seem odd to think that male snakes have a extra reproductive organ but this is commonly believed to be down to the female's ability to store his sperm for long periods of time.

Female snakes can keep the males sperm inside their body for up to five years, so that they can become pregnant as and when they please.

But what is even more mind-boggling is that the female can store sperm from several males and decide which she would like to have her babies with. Incredibly, females are also able to use the sperm of more than one male at a time, giving her the freedom to have multiple babies from different fathers!

So, if you are keeping a snake as a pet, the chances are that she won't start magically having babies, unless of course, you have recently adopted her and she had mated before she came to you.

It is worth checking when you adopt a snake whether or not she has been exposed to a male - if she did present as being pregnant down the line, at least you will have had a heads-up. You should also be prepared to check your snakes tank regularly for any signs that she has laid eggs.

However, in some cases, female snakes have been known to lay eggs without ever having mated. For the most part, these will not contain viable embryos and will likely be an anomaly, but since snakes are vastly complex creatures, it won't surprise you to learn that there have been reports of females giving birth without ever having being near a male!

This is quite common in the flowerpot snake who is asexual. These astounding animals have the ability to impregnate themselves. They do this by using a process which is known as parthenogenesis.

In this case, the snake almost produces a clone of herself but there are other species such as the cottonmouth snake from North America that has been known to asexually reproduce and give birth to a non-identical male baby.

Final Words

Snakes are some of the most amazing and interesting creatures on the planet and the way in which they behave is largely misunderstood.

Many people wonder if snakes lay eggs in ground or elsewhere and most snakes will use the ground to protect their eggs since they tend to abandon them.

There are many snake mating behaviours that are unique to this animal and are fascinating to say the least.

If you own a snake and are concerned that she may begin to lay eggs, you should be mindful to check her tank. However, whilst it isn't unheard of for these creatures to reproduce alone, this is unlikely so snake owners can rest assured that they won't have a litter of young to rehome.

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