Snakes are common animals in the wild. Heck, you can even see them in your garden or backyard. Many are afraid of them while few are interested in them.
How do they reproduce?
How do snakes give birth to offspring?
Now, this is a common question among people who aren’t snake lovers. Let’s start with the obvious question…
- Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
- Do All Snakes Lay Eggs?
- How Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
- When Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
- Where Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
- At What Age Can A Snake Lay Eggs?
- How Many Eggs Do Snakes Lay?
- What Do Snake Eggs Look Like?
- Are Snake Eggs Hard Or Soft?
- Snake Egg Hatching
- Viviparous And Ovoviviparous Snakes
- Snake Eggs Vs Lizard Eggs
- Snake Eggs Vs Bird Eggs
- Python Eggs
- Final Thoughts
Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
Yes, they do. This is how snakes reproduce. The majority of the different species of snake known to man reproduce by laying eggs.
Do All Snakes Lay Eggs?
Not all snakes lay eggs. Even though the majority reproduce that way, some give birth to live snakes. Now there are three different ways in which a snake can reproduce. The box below explains them.
How Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
There are myths about snakes laying eggs through their mouth. That’s not true. Snakes lay eggs through the cloaca.
They’re able to expel the egg from the uterus with the help of uterine and cloacal contraction. The eggs come out with sticky substances all over them which makes them stuck together in a pile when laid.
There are several behaviors a snake will exhibit when it’s time to lay eggs. Such as twitch-like movements and rapid breathing.
When Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
Breeding season varies between snake species. A snake wants to breed when the environment is warm enough and food is readily available.
However, for many snakes across the United States, their breeding season falls between May and August.
A huge influence on snake breeding is environmental factors such as rainfall, sunlight, temperature, etc. Breeding can only take place when the snake deems the environment comfortable enough.
Although, it has been known that snakes that live in tropical areas can breed all year round. While those that live in colder climates breed in spring, thereby making it possible for the eggs to hatch during summer. Warmth is very important to snake eggs.
Where Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
Snakes don’t care much about where they lay their eggs, unlike other reptiles. They don’t go around digging to lay their eggs except a few like pine snakes.
They lay their eggs in natural cavities such as mounds, burrows, or under logs. Sometimes they can surround the eggs with moist soil to provide warmth.
At What Age Can A Snake Lay Eggs?
Just like every other animal, a snake can only reproduce when it has reached sexual maturity. There’s a lot of variables that determine the age of sexual maturities such as species, nutrition, health, and size.
However, in most cases, this is around 2 – 3 years of age. Remember a snake can live for about 10 – 15 years.
How Many Eggs Do Snakes Lay?
Most snakes lay eggs in clutches, that is, a group of eggs laid at the same time. Each clutch can contain anywhere from six to a hundred depending on the species.
Although, some species of snakes only lay one egg at a time, and others lay eggs only once every three or so years.
What Do Snake Eggs Look Like?
Now, let’s get to the gist of it. How can you identify snake eggs if you see one?
To the majority of people, it is difficult to tell if an egg is that of a snake or any other animal. Only snake experts and lovers might be able to tell.
It’s even harder to tell the different species of snakes from the egg. However, snake experts possess this quirk. I mean, why are the experts?
Well, let’s talk about the characteristics of a snake egg. We’ll do that under these headings.
Colour Of Snake Egg
Most snake eggs are indistinguishable when it comes to color except for a few snake eggs that have known patterns. They’re either white, off-white, or beige.
When these eggs have a blue or green color, then it is a sign of an unhealthy egg. The embryo might even be dead.
Snake Egg Size
Snake eggs vary by species and size of the snake that laid them. One striking feature about snake egg is that it grows in size as it matures.
A snake egg absorbs water from the surrounding area and expands as time passes. Therefore a snake egg can range from 1 inch to about 4 inches long in extreme cases.
Any suspicious egg in your backyard or garden that measures less than 1 inch long is less likely to be a snake egg, maybe other reptiles.
Shape Of Snake Egg
Unlike birds, snake eggs are oblong-shaped. This makes it different from the rounded egg laid by birds.
Snake eggs have a rubbery or leathery feel and are one way of differentiating them from eggs of other animals.
Are Snake Eggs Hard Or Soft?
Snake eggs are not hard like chicken eggs. Hard eggs are usually laid by animals that need to sit on top of them for incubation. The hard shell helps bear the weight of the bird.
On the other hand, snakes are cold-blooded and don’t need to incubate their eggs. Their eggs get the needed warmth from the surrounding.
Therefore, the soft shell becomes important. This is because heat can easily pass through the soft shell into the egg as needed.
So when you poke a snake egg, it bounces in and out showing you how soft and rubbery it is.
Snake Egg Hatching
Snake eggs can’t remain eggs forever, right?
When the time is right, a baby snake comes out of each egg, assuming conditions are right. This takes an average of 60 – 90 days.
Infant snakes usually have razor-sharp tooth. They use this to break the soft rubbery shell of their egg to escape. This tooth falls out once the baby snake leaves the egg. Because the teeth only serve one purpose, it has been termed “egg tooth”.
Viviparous And Ovoviviparous Snakes
As said earlier, these are snakes that give birth without laying eggs. Hence they give birth to live baby snakes.
The viviparous snake does not form an egg at all. The baby snake develops in the mother’s womb just like humans do. And eventually, the female snake gives birth to a live baby snake. Some examples are the anaconda and garter snakes.
On the other hand, ovoviviparous snakes do form eggs, however, they don’t lay the eggs. The eggs are hatched in their wombs and they expel live baby snakes. Examples are the Boas and rattlesnakes.
Now, these snakes that give birth to live offsprings have a few advantages.
- They don’t have find a place to lay eggs.
- The developing snake can easily be kept warm inside the mother than outside
- Viviparous snakes are better at thermoregulation than egg laying snakes.
Snake Eggs Vs Lizard Eggs
Frankly, there’s not much difference here. A lizard egg can pass for a snake egg to the untrained eye.
However, the one difference is their size. Snake eggs are usually about 1 inch long in size but can be up to 5 inches long, like in the case of python eggs.
Lizard eggs are generally smaller than 1 inch, measuring about 1 – 3 cm.
They’re both oblong, rubbery, and leathery to touch, with a soft shell.
Snake Eggs Vs Bird Eggs
At this point in the write-up, you already know the difference between the two. The main difference between them is the shape and shell.
Bird eggs are more roundish, unlike oblong snake eggs. The shell of bird eggs as we know is hard and rigid to support the weight of the mother bird while she’s incubating.
In contrast, the snake egg is soft, rubbery, and pliable. If you poke a snake egg, it bounces in and out making it feel gooey.
This is necessary because the snake egg depends on the surrounding for warmth. The soft shell also allows it to absorb water as time passes making it bigger.
Additionally, most snake eggs are uniform in color while bird eggs come in several colors.
Pythons lay very big eggs compared to other snakes. Each python egg measures about 4 – 5 inches and weighs about 65 – 100 grams.
Female python can lay up to eleven eggs at once. Although they lay at least six eggs each time.
Pythons are known to lay the biggest eggs as you can see. The largest snake egg known is from the Burmese python.
I’m sure you didn’t know all this about snake birth before now. Is your mind blown?
One thing you should know is that most snakes give birth by laying eggs. They commonly lay soft and pliable eggs. However, some can still lay eggs with a rigid shell.
Apart from size, snake eggs can hardly to differentiated from the eggs of other reptiles like lizards. It is also difficult to tell the species of a snake just by looking at the egg, at least to the untrained eye.
Viviparous and ovoviviparous snakes do not lay eggs, they give birth to live snakes. Although viviparous snakes do not form eggs at all while ovoviviparous snakes do.
There’s quite a lot to know about snake birth especially if you’re breeding your own. If you’ve never seen a snake laying eggs, here’s a video of one.