Nature finds a way for captive snakes to reproduce without a mate

The yellow-bellied watersnake kept captive in Missouri likely gave birth by parthenogenesis.

Source: Lady snake gives birth after being alone for eight years, doesn’t need men

“Virgin” birth in snakes is not unknown but it is the first time it has been recorded in this species. It appears that polar bodies act like sperm and “fertilize” the egg. There is no genetic contribution from a male but the genetic code is not necessarily a replicate of the female. That is, it’s not a clone.

Parthenogenesis does not occur in mammals. In reptiles, copperheads, cottonmouths, reticulated pythons, and Komodo dragons have been known to parthenogenetically reproduce.

The yellow-bellied water snake at the Cape Girardeau, Mo., Conservation Nature Center gave birth, sans male snake. (Candice Davis/Missouri Department of Conservation via AP)

The yellow-bellied water snake at the Cape Girardeau, Mo., Conservation Nature Center gave birth, sans male snake. (Candice Davis/Missouri Department of Conservation via AP)

  4 comments for “Nature finds a way for captive snakes to reproduce without a mate

  1. Ronald H. Pine
    September 20, 2015 at 1:36 PM

    There are other reptiles than the ones listed above, including other snakes, such as the Burmese Python, that have been shown to reproduce parthenogenetically. There are some sorts of lizards that simply have no males whatsoever and so always reproduce parthenogenetically. Also, the Brahminy Blind Snake, which I have encountered in Hong Kong and Hawaii (yes, there are now non-captive snakes in Hawaii) has no males.

  2. RayG
    September 20, 2015 at 4:40 PM

    No. I’m, I’m simply saying that life, uh… finds a way

  3. busterggi (Bob Jase)
    September 21, 2015 at 8:14 AM

    Men may not yet have been able to reproduce w/o women but it isn’t for lack of trying.

  4. Kurt
    September 22, 2015 at 10:49 AM

    We now have Brahminy blind snakes in SoCal. They are very cool.

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