Yellow-Bellied Water Snake Gives Birth via Parthenogenesis

September 18, 2015

Parthenogenesis, or giving birth without a male present is a rare but not uncommon occurrence in the reptile world. 

KFVS12 News

A yellow-bellied water snake that has been kept alone in its enclosure for the last eight years gave birth to a pair of healthy snakes two years ago and has given birth again, though the offspring did not survive. 

yellow bellied water snake

Candice Davis/Missouri Department of Conservation

This yellow-bellied water snake has given birth twice in the last 8 years without a male.

The snake lives at the Missouri Department of Conservation's Cape Girardeau Conservation Nature Center and an intern found the dead baby snakes in July.

In addition to certain reptiles, parthenogenesis occurs in certain fish, insects, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Reptiles that are known to reproduce via parthenogenesis, including the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), reticulated python (Python reticulatus) New Mexico whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus), certain geckos and certain boa constrictors.

John Virata keeps a western hognose snake, a ball python, two corn snakes, a kingsnake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased for $5. His first pet reptile was a green anole that arrived in a small box via mail order. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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