Do you want to learn how to breed your snakes?
Are you checking to see if your snake lays eggs or gives birth to live young?
Contrary to popular belief, not all snakes lay eggs.
If this is the case, which snakes lay eggs and how do they do it?
Most snakes lay eggs, including snakes from the Colubridae and Elapidae families. These snakes, known as oviparous snakes, use a versatile opening called a cloaca to lay eggs.
Snake birth is a fascinating process which differs depending on species.
This article will further break everything down for you to better understand how and why snakes lay eggs.
Table of Contents
How Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
After fertilization happens, eggs begin to grow inside a female snake’s body in a part known as the oviduct.
The egg gradually enlarges using layers excreted from glands called shell glands.
As the egg grows, the yolk sac provides nutrients for the growing baby snake.
Once the eggs are ready, they’ll pass through the cloaca into the outside world.
Most snake species will abandon their eggs after laying them.
They usually find a sunny spot to keep the eggs warm and pick a well-hidden location so the eggs don’t become a feast for nearby predators.
This could sometimes be an underground nest or an area hidden by leaves.
A group of snake eggs laid simultaneously is known as a clutch, which can contain anywhere from one to one hundred eggs depending on species.
How Often Do Snakes Lay Eggs?
Depending on the snake species and the availability of mates, snakes will generally lay eggs anywhere from twice a year to every three years.
Most snakes will lay eggs about once a year, such as pythons.
While the length of time it takes for eggs to hatch varies, most baby snakes will hatch in 2 months.
What Are Baby Snakes Called?
Baby snakes have different names depending on their stage of development.
Newly hatched snakes are called hatchlings.
Newborn snakes are neonates.
Once they get a bit older, baby snakes are called snakelets.
These young snakes can hunt and feed immediately after they hatch, which is why snakes abandon their eggs and allow their young to fend for themselves.
How Can I Identify Snake Eggs?
Unlike bird eggs, snake eggs do not have a hard shell. Instead, their shells are generally softer and have a leathery appearance.
This makes snake eggs less protected, as even small manipulations can damage the egg and result in harm or death.
The shape of the eggs, which is oblong, is pretty similar to bird eggs.
They’ll also be similar in color, ranging from white to off-white to beige.
The sizes range broadly.
They’re as small as 1″ inch (2.5cm) to as large as 4 to 5″ inches (13cm), usually python eggs.
If you’re curious about whether or not an egg is a snake egg, hold it up to a light.
The embryo silhouette inside is round-shaped, though many reptile embryos have this appearance at some point in their development.
When Do Snakes Breed?
After brumation, female snakes will become active for breeding in the spring.
Because snakes are cold-blooded, they prefer to conduct these types of activities during warmer weather.
This ensures proper conditions for both breeding and laying eggs.
Eggs require warmth to stay alive, and baby snakes need the opportunity to bask in sunlight when they’re born.
Male snakes attract the attention of female snakes by fighting other males.
Though they’re not usually looking to kill the other snake, the “winner” of the fight will successfully engage the female snake.
The process of mating can last anywhere from one hour to one day.
After mating, female snakes generally lay eggs after a few weeks or months.
Do All Female Snakes Need Mates To Reproduce?
There are a few species of snakes who reproduce asexually.
For example, flower pot snakes can produce healthy female offspring who are genetic copies of their mamas.
Alternatively, female snakes can store sperm in their cloaca for up to six years.
The sperm remains viable for reproduction and may be used at any time to fertilize eggs.
Why Do Some Snakes Give Live Birth?
Snakes who birth live babies are called viviparous or ovoviviparous.
Viviparous snakes will directly give birth to live snakes, while ovoviviparous will incubate eggs inside themselves, which hatch, allowing them to deliver live babies then.
This adaptation arose in snakes for a few different reasons.
First, maybe the snake lives in a much colder climate.
Since eggs need warmth to grow a baby snake properly, it’s not a good idea to lay nests of eggs in cold temperatures.
Growing the babies inside the mama’s warm interior will provide the babies a higher likelihood of making it to birth.
Rattlesnakes are one of the species which give live birth.
This is likely because rattlesnakes protect their young better when they’re growing inside than when eggs are outside, exposed to predators.
Not many predators will attempt to attack a venomous rattlesnake, making their bodies excellent places to grow baby snakes.
Sea snakes also give birth to live babies.
They spend their entire lives in the water.
Since eggshells are permeable to water, laying eggs underwater would be a terrible idea.
All the baby snakes would drown.
Instead, sea snakes give birth to live snakes.
Live snakes will be birthed, surrounded by a thin membrane.
They’ll then use their sharp teeth to tear apart the membrane and wriggle their ways to freedom.
If you wondered which snakes lay eggs and how they do it, you now have a little better understanding.
Most snakes give birth by laying eggs, but every snake species has its unique methods to do so.
This knowledge is especially useful for snake owners who are thinking about breeding, in which case this website is full of helpful knowledge and tips to help you better understand these amazing creatures.