Ever wonder if larger snakes, like the boa constrictor, lay more eggs than smaller snakes?
Or if, just the opposite, they have fewer offspring at once because they are so large?
Neither is true.
The answer to the question of how many eggs does a boa constrictor lay is actually none!
These giant snakes are among the roughly 30% of the snake population not laying eggs. Instead, female boa constrictors give birth to live babies and usually have between 10 and 65 babies in a litter. The average litter size is 25.
Boa babies develop inside their mother attached to a yolk-sac and are each housed inside a clear membrane.
The gestational period can range between 5 to 8 months.
Female boas push their babies into the world through their cloaca, which is the opening at the vent near the tail.
The babies referred to as neonates, then break through their membranes to take their first breaths of air.
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How Do Boa Constrictors Reproduce?
Boa constrictors’ method of reproduction is almost strictly sexual; however, at least one case of asexual reproduction is reported in a boa.
These snakes are considered sexually mature by the time they reach 3 to 4 years of age.
During mating season, pheromones are released from a female boa’s cloaca, attracting male boas.
The male wraps its tail around the female’s, and the reproductive organs are inserted into the female’s cloaca.
They may remain locked together like this for a few minutes to a few hours.
In the wild, this process would recur several times over the following 2 to 3 weeks.
A female can hold viable sperm inside of its body for up to a year.
After mating, the female will then ovulate.
This is typically evident because the snake will develop a bulge similar to what it looks like after a meal.
A few weeks after ovulation, she will go through a shed lasting around 2 to 3 weeks.
How Long Is The Gestation Period For A Boa Constrictor?
The gestation period is tracked, starting with the shed occurring after ovulation and usually lasts between 5 to 8 months.
Temperature plays a part in how long a boa will remain pregnant, or gravid.
Gestation requires the mother to be in a healthy physical condition because it takes a toll on her body.
While carrying their young, it is not uncommon for female boas to refuse meals.
If A Boa Constrictor Doesn’t Produce Eggs, How Do Their Offspring Develop?
Boa constrictors are considered a viviparous snake, meaning they create offspring without the added hassle of laying and properly incubating eggs.
Boas are among the 30% of snake breeds that do not lay eggs.
Egg-laying snakes make up 70% of the snake population and are referred to as oviparous.
Female boas hold their young inside their bodies during gestation.
The babies are fed through a placenta and a yolk-sac.
They grow inside clear mucous membranes they must break out of at birth.
How Do Boa Constrictors Give Birth?
When a boa is ready to give birth, they generally have a spurt in their activity level a few days beforehand.
You will also notice a wax-like stool about a day before they give birth.
Occasionally a baby or two might emerge with this stool.
This is normal.
The birthing process for a boa consists of pushing their young out via the cloaca.
Babies emerge while still inside their amniotic sacs and have to break through after they are born.
Some weaker neonates are unable to do this and may die if there is no intervention by the mother, who may flick her tongue at the sac to break it, or by a breeder.
Without intervention, only the strong neonates will survive. This is just a part of nature.
After giving birth, the mother boa needs to have a quiet place to rest and recuperate.
If your pet boa gives birth, it is best to move her to her own space after being sure she is done with the birthing process.
Make sure to use caution handling a boa when it has just given birth.
It is easier to deal with the babies when mom is separated.
Don’t feel bad for splitting up mom and her babies.
Baby boas are born with survival instincts and are capable of living independently from birth.
In the wild, mother boas typically do not care for their young beyond protecting them for the first few days after birth.
How Many Babies Does A Boa Constrictor Have?
Mother boa constrictors can give birth to litters ranging in size from 10 to 65 babies, although the average litter size is around 25.
During the birthing process, if any eggs are not appropriately fertilized, they will also pass through the cloaca.
These are referred to as slugs.
They are soft and oval-shaped, and a yellowish-brown color.
While rare, it is possible to have a snake give birth to 100% slugs.
This is a snake breeder’s worst nightmare.
Captive female boas can produce anywhere from 3 to 5 litters within their lifetime.
How Big Are Boa Constrictors When They Are Born?
Boa constrictors are usually around 20″ inches long at birth.
They will experience their first shed at two weeks of age.
After the first shed is complete, they will have their first feeding and continue to grow rapidly and frequently shed over the next three years until they reach sexual maturity, aka adulthood.
Next time you want to stump your friends, ask them how many eggs do boa constrictors lay?
You now know this is a trick question, and the answer is zero.
They are viviparous snakes, meaning they give birth to live babies.
Litters can range widely in size from 10 to 65 babies (or neonates), with an average of around 25.
Neonates are capable of fending for themselves after birth.
A healthy female boa in captivity can have between 3 and 5 litters in her lifetime.