While most snakes are known for delivering eggs, some will give birth to a live young. The incubation process of eggs will occur inside the body of their mother. These are the ovoviviparous types of snakes. One good example would be the rattlesnake, wherein the female will carry the eggs for about three months before they will hatch inside their body. Thus, making it look like they are giving birth like mammals.
Which Are the Egg-Laying Snakes?
Generally, reptiles are egg-layers. The eggs of the snake are not hard like most birds. They are rubbery that allows them to stretch and protect the baby snake inside until it was nourished by the yolk. There are around 200 species of snakes that you can find in the US, and most of them are oviparous, which include an array of snake species like rat snakes. Among the venomous snakes in the US, only the coral snakes will lay eggs. The other three will give birth to a live young.
Snakes that belong in the Colubridae family are egg-layers. Even the venomous members of the Elapidae family, like Taipan, Mambas, and Cobras, will deliver eggs. One genus of sea snake, Laticauda, are known for also laying eggs. Usually, the female snakes will abandon the eggs as soon as they lay them. However, some of them will play an active role in incubating the eggs, such as the king cobra. The mother cobra will even look after the little one until they are capable of surviving on their own.
Which Snakes Give Birth to Live Young?
Not long ago, some experts believe that there are viviparous snakes, wherein they will nourish the embryo through a placenta. Once the embryo has matured, it will be delivered alive together with the placenta. Today, they discovered that those snakes are actually ovoviviparous. The eggs will be incubated and hatched internally. Rinkhals or Rinkhals Spitting Cobra are examples of snakes that give birth to live young. Their defense mechanism has helped them develop this kind of reproduction process. Since it would be difficult for the eggs to incubate in the water, sea snakes will also give birth to live young. Only the Sea Kraits will lay eggs since they will occasionally leave the water to speed-up the digestion process. Other ovoviviparous snakes are Boa Constrictors, Anacondas, White-Lipped Snakes, and Rattlesnakes.
The way that snakes reproduce will depend upon the species. Around 70% of the snake species are oviparous, wherein the mother snake will lay eggs. Usually, they will build their nest in areas that receive a steady amount of heat to assist in the incubation process. Most mother snakes will not have anything to do with the incubation and will immediately abandon the nest. The rest are ovoviviparous. Since the eggs will develop inside the snake's body, it will make the eggs less vulnerable to outdoor elements and predators. This kind of reproduction process is also observed in other animals such as stingrays, sharks, and some insects.
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