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Do you know there are 3,900 species of snakes across 52 genera in the animal kingdom?
All these species are classified into more than 20 recognized families of snakes. Snakes are found on all continents in the world except for Antarctica and a few countries like Iceland, Greenland, and Ireland.
Snakes belong to the class Reptilia and the suborder Serpentes in the animal kingdom. These carnivorous creatures have a long elongated body that is covered with scales. Snakes do not have any limbs, and scales on their body help them slither around. The length of snakes varies across species, from the tiny Barbados thread snake which measures around 4.1 in (10.4 cm) to the mighty python, which can be as long as 22.8 ft (6.95 m). Contrary to popular belief, a majority of snakes are non-venomous. Only about 375 of the 3,900 species of snakes are venomous. Venomous snakes use the venom, not as a means of self-defense but to subdue and hunt their prey. The most poisonous snake in the world is the inland taipan.
Diets of these reptiles vary as per the species; some feed on insects and small animals like rats, frogs, and birds, while the giant variety of snakes can consume big animals like pigs and deer. Non-venomous snakes feed on their prey by swallowing them alive, or they subdue them by constriction. Some species of snakes prey on other snakes also. Snakes like pythons and anacondas can live without consuming food for almost a year.
Most snakes are nocturnal, with some exceptions that are diurnal. They use their tongue to make sense of the world around them. Snakes are ectothermic, which means they are cold-blooded animals. They use external sources to regulate their body heat and temperature. They are known to shed their skin at regular intervals. This varies with the species, but typically it is about three to six times a year.
In this article, we will learn more about how eggs of various types of snakes look. Knowing how to identify snake eggs has its benefits. If you are a snake enthusiast and are interested in learning more about snakes, knowing how to identify snake eggs will increase your knowledge. If your home is in an area where snakes are common, identifying snake eggs is vital for your safety.
To explore more information on snakes, check out our articles on when do snakes hibernate and how do snakes move.
Most snakes lay eggs, but a few species give birth to live young. Given the huge variety of snakes, it is understandable that snake eggs from different species will vary in size. Snake eggs are usually white, beige, or off-white and are oblong in shape. Their size can range from 1-5 in (2.5-12.7 cm). Eggs grow in size as the embryo grows.
Snakes do not lay their eggs just anywhere. They usually prefer sheltered spaces like holes dug in the soft ground, dirt, burrows, dead leaf heaps, or natural cavities in rotting wood to lay eggs. They choose warm, humid, and moist places; the warmth is crucial for the incubation of eggs and helps them come to term and hatch. Most species of snakes lay eggs and abandon them, except for some species of pythons, who are known to stay around eggs and incubate them until they hatch. Typically, the space where snake eggs are laid acts as a natural incubator. If you chance upon snake eggs in the wild, it is best not to touch or disturb them.
If you find eggs in your backyard or your locality and need help in identifying if these eggs are indeed snake eggs, then follow these steps. Snake eggs have a similar appearance to other reptile eggs. So, first, check the shape and size. If it is oblong but smaller than an inch, it is probably a lizard egg. If the size is bigger than an inch, gently feel it. Snakes found in South America and North America have eggs similar to bird eggs. So, it is critical to identify if the egg is a bird egg or snake egg before deciding on the further course of action. Bird eggs tend to have hard shells, but snake eggs have leathery shells. That is one way to differentiate them.
Snake eggs are generally buried under dirt, so if you have found them on the ground or in a nest, you can use an advanced technique called candling to identify these eggs. Handle the egg gently and examine it under bright light. You will be able to see the outline of the embryo inside the egg. The snake embryo is generally round. Typically the shape of snake eggs is oblong, but some snakes species from Asia and Africa have eggs that resemble ginger roots. If you are not sure, immediately seek the help of snake experts at your local wildlife center to remove eggs.
It is easy to differentiate a bird egg from a snake egg. A snake egg is soft compared to a bird egg; the shell will have an indent when touched. They are typically oblong in shape and have a rubbery feel, while bird eggs are generally oval and have hard shells.
The incubation period for snake eggs varies depending on the species. On average the incubation period is 60 days which means it takes that much time for the baby snake to hatch from the egg. Once hatchlings emerge, eggs look like ruptured soft shells. If you come across eggs that look like snake eggs - oblong shape, leathery texture, but are green or blue in color - chances are they are not snake eggs. If they are indeed snake eggs, they have gone bad, are dying, and are unlikely to hatch.
Snakes that reproduce by laying eggs are called oviparous. Not all species of snakes are oviparous. Only 70% of the known species of snakes produce offspring by laying eggs.
These reptiles can be divided into three categories depending on the snake reproduction mechanism: oviparous, ovoviviparous, and viviparous. Eggs of oviparous snakes undergo an incubation period before they come to term, and baby snakes hatch. Rat snakes and cobras are oviparous. King cobras are also known to construct nest sites and stay around their eggs until hatching. In ovoviviparous snakes, eggs remain inside the reptile's body for the entire gestation period, after which mothers give birth to live young. Eggshells remain inside the body of the mother even after hatching. Rattlesnakes have this reproduction mechanism. In viviparous snakes, there are no eggs in any stage of gestation. Babies develop in the womb of the mother and are born live. Anacondas fall in this category.
The size of snake eggs varies across the reptile species.
The larger the species of snake, the bigger its egg is, and vice versa. For the smaller variety of these reptiles, the egg size is about 1 in (2.5 cm), and for bigger snakes, the egg size can range between 2-4 in (5-10 cm).
The number of eggs in the clutch of this reptile varies across species. Large snakes like the python can lay 100 eggs in a single clutch, whereas small snakes like colubrids have a clutch size of around 10-30 eggs. Thread snakes are tiny snakes that lay only one egg at a time. Also, some snakes reproduce only once a year, while some lay eggs once every three years and some lay eggs multiple times a year. Let's learn about egg sizes of a few species of snakes. Do you know the size of ball python eggs? A ball python can lay 6-11 eggs in a clutch. These eggs are about 3-4 in (8-10 cm) in length. The weight of these eggs can range between 2.3 to 3.6 oz (65-102 g).
The length of brown snake eggs is about 2 in (5 cm). They usually lay their eggs in a patch of soft dirt and use their body to move the dirt to make a sheltered space for these eggs. They prefer a secluded, warm and moist space to lay and bury their eggs. The ground acts as the incubator of these snakes' eggs.
The size of grass snake eggs ranges from 1-1.2 in (2.5-3.0 cm) in length. Like other snake eggs, grass snake eggs are also oblong and are matte white in color. Grass snakes generally lay their eggs in compost piles. The natural heat of these locations is essential for the survival and incubation of their eggs. The mother doesn't have to dig to create a nest-like structure as compost piles protect her eggs.
Garter snakes fall under the ovoviviparous classification. The length of their eggs ranges between 2-3 in (5-8 cm). The mother snake carries eggs in her body and acts as the incubator until their hatching. Babies emerge live from their mother's womb.
The length of blacksnake eggs ranges from 1.5-2 in (2.5-5 cm). These reptiles prefer rotting wood, animal manure heap, or rotting vegetation to lay their eggs. Instead of digging a nest-like hole in the dirt, they prefer warm, rotting piles of vegetation as it provides the right environment and heat that eggs need for survival.
Eggs of rat snakes are about 1 in (2.5 cm) in length. They prefer warm and secluded locations to lay their eggs. They use tree hollows, compost, and manure piles as their egg-laying sites.
The length of eggs of corn snakes lies between 1.5-2.5 in (3.5-5.5 cm). They look for wet, warm areas for laying their eggs.
The first thing to check out to identify snake eggs is the texture and feel of the eggshell.
Birds eggs have a hard shell, but snake eggs are soft and have a rubbery texture. When touched, snake eggs have a slight give. Therefore, it is essential to leave snake eggs in their natural settings if they do not pose any threat to you. If you need to handle the egg for identifying, you have to be very gentle and not handle it for more than a few minutes. The soft shell of the egg is crucial for the snake's survival.
Snakes that produce offspring by giving birth to live young are called viviparous.
They comprise a small number of species of snakes. At no point in their reproduction process are eggs involved.
Babies in this category of snakes develop in the mother's womb through a yolk sac and placenta. When the gestation comes to term, babies are born live. Boa constrictors, vipers, sea snakes, and anacondas are species of snake that give live birth.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our article about what do snake eggs look like, then take a look at what do bed bug eggs look like or vine snake facts.
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