Oldest Known Snake In A Zoo Lays Eggs Without Aid Of Male Snake

Ball Python Witheggs
This 50-year-old ball python laid eggs at the St. Louis Zoo, without the aid of a male. Photo by Saint Louis Zoo.

A 50-year-old ball python (Python regius) living in the Saint Louis Zoo has laid eggs, but hasn’t been with a male ball python in more than 15 years, the zoo wrote on its Facebook page.

“On July 23, something incredible happened at the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium at the Saint Louis Zoo — a ball python laid eggs! That might not sound too thrilling to some, but to our Herpetarium staff it definitely was,” the zoo wrote.

The zoo said that the ball python is known to reproduce sexually and asexually. Reproducing without a mate is called facultative parthenogenesis. The eggs are now in incubation and the zoo is sending samples for genetic testing to determine how the ball python became gravid.


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Parthenogenesis occurs in certain fish, insects, amphibians, reptiles and birds. Some of the reptile species that are known to reproduce via parthenogenesis include the Komodo dragon (Varanus komodoensis), reticulated python (Python reticulatus) New Mexico whiptail lizard (Cnemidophorus neomexicanus), certain geckos and certain boa constrictors.

Checking Ball Pythoneggs

Checking if the eggs are viable. Photo by Saint Louis Zoo.

The ball python is one of the most popular pet snakes in the reptile trade and is also one of the most colorful thanks to captive breeding efforts that produce the reptiles in a dazzling array of colorations and patterns. It is a fairly docile snake that is known to curl into a ball when it feels threatened, hence the name.

Categories: Snake Breeding, Snake Information & News