Reticulated Python Confirmed To Have Mothered Babies via Parthenogenesis

October 23, 2014

A reticulated python that mothered six babies at Kentucky's Louisville Zoo in 2012 was confirmed to be the sole parent of the brood, according to a story on the National Geographic website. Thelma, an 11-year-old, 20 ft. long retic laid fertile eggs through a process known in scientific circles as parthenogenesis, whereby a female becomes gravid without a male ever present.

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According to the article, the 200-pound snake giving becoming gravid without the aid of a male marks the first time that parthenogenesis has been witnessed with retics. Her offspring were confirmed to be conceived via parthenogenesis by researchers who published their study with DNA evidence last summer in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 

The zoo’s curator, Bill McMahan, speculates that optimal living conditions for Thelma probably helped her to become gravid. He told NG that he fed her really large meals (40 pounds of chicken) and lived in a very large enclosure with plenty of heat pads. 

Three of the offspring look just like her while the other three are a super tiger morphs, bright yellow with black stripes. 

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