It looks like we’re not sleeping tonight after footage revealed a snake giving birth to 11 babies.
In a recent video, viewers can see a momma snake giving birth to her babies. The video also showed a rare case of reptilian live birth. A rehabilitation zoo known as the Northern Colorado Wildlife Center shared a video of one of its snakes welcoming its live young into the world.
“Sometimes, when we help one animal, we end up helping many. One of our current plains garter snake patients became a mother today to 11 adorable, slithering, babies!” said the center in the caption alongside the video.
“Garter snakes typically have between 10 to 40 babies at a time so while a tad on the smaller side, her 11 are within the normal range,” it continued.
While most snakes are oviparous, meaning they leave large packs of eggs behind, some species are known to be viviparous. This means they undergo live births instead.
Snake species that lay eggs like this include garter snakes, water snakes, most vipers, boas, sea snakes, and death adders. All snake species reproduce through internal fertilization, meaning the male’s sperm is inserted inside the female’s reproductive tract.
Egg-laying snakes develop the eggs inside their bodies, coating the embryos and their nutrient-filled sacs with a layer of calcium, similar to various birds. After laying eggs, the mother may incubate her clutch and look after her nest. Or, she may leave the nest and leave her young on their own. For instance, pythons wrap around their eggs and coil their bodies around the eggs to keep them warm.
Live births in snakes associated with colder climates
However, Viviparous species don’t develop eggshells. Instead, they feed their internal young with placenta and yolk sac nutrition.
However, real viviparity is hard to distinguish from a rarer approach called ovoviviparity, where eggs develop inside the mother. However, they hatch before the babies are born. In both cases, their babies are born inside an embryonic sac.
According to National Geographic, viviparity is a rare trait across reptiles, with that only around 15 to 20 percent of the nearly 9,000 total species of snakes and lizards having the characteristic.
Experts believe that live births are associated with species that reside in colder climates. These temperatures are too cold for eggs to survive outside the mother’s womb.
However, the plains garter snake, the species in the video, is viviparous and people find them in parts of the US. A family found the momma in the video with lacerations, possibly from a lawn mower accident.
“She’s healing well from her injuries and she, along with all of her babies, will be released in a few weeks time!” said the center.