An extremely independent senior ball python at a zoo in the US is the latest subject of hot gossip among workers and experts after she laid a cluster of eggs despite not being near a male for two decades.
The 62-years-old serpent, known as 361003, laid eggs in 1990 which was conceived with the male she possibly hocked up with inside a container where they were kept while their cages were being cleaned.
But the last time she laid eggs, that is on 23rd July 2020, records say she has not to brush with a male for the last two decades. Yet she sheepishly laid the eggs.
According to to Saint Louis Post Dispatch the eggs are due to hatch in about a month.
This senior specimen is also remarkable because ball pythons typically stop laying eggs long before they’re in their 60s.
Three of the eggs are in an incubator and two have been taken for genetic sampling. Two more eggs did not survive according to the report.
This specific female ball python has only another partner of the same species in the zoo, which is a 31-years-old male numbered 389054.
Extremely independent lady
Turns out, while ball pythons mostly lay eggs after coitus, that is after mating, these amazing creatures are also capable of what is called facultative parthenogenesis.
It means, the snake can reproduce asexually as well, which happens as a result of the female storing sperm for delayed fertilization, manager of herpetology at the zoo in Missouri, Mark Warner told the Guardian.
Similar reproductive feats can be also seen in other species like Komodo dragon and specimens of rattlesnakes.
Genetic sampling will confirm whether the X factor produced sexually or a asexually. “She’d definitely be the oldest snake we know of in history,” to lay eggs, Mark Wanner said. “In fact, she’s the oldest snake ever documented in a zoo.”