This is the second time in as many years the snake has immaculately conceived

By Alex Heigl
Updated September 17, 2015 09:32 PM
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Perhaps one day, some religious sect will be celebrating the immaculate snake-ception.

But until then, we’re just going to have to marvel at the miracles that have taken place at the Cape Girardeau Conservation Center in Missouri. Specifically, the miracle taking place inside the Center’s female yellow-bellied water snake, which has just given birth for the second time without the aid of a male companion.

“I wouldn’t say that’s it’s common in reptiles, it can happen in reptiles,” naturalist Michelle Randecker told KFVS 12. “It’s more common [in] insects.”

The snake is eight years old — a little long in the tooth for an unmarried reptile of her age — and two of her offspring from last year’s virgin birth are doing well at the Center. Sadly, this year’s did not make it.

The process by which the snake is doing this is called parthenogenesis, which is indeed common with bees, wasps and stick insects but also with amphibians, birds and some species of fish. (You may also remember it from Jurassic Park.)

“This yellow-bellied water snake is the first that we know of, of yellow-bellied water snakes reproducing by parthenogenesis. There’s no other record of a yellow-bellied doing this,” Randecker added.

Good job, snake. You’re a worthy foe.

Until I learn how to reproduce asexually.