A 62-Year-Old Zoo Python Laid Eggs Even Though She Hasn’t 'Been with a Male in Over 15 Years'
"On July 23, something incredible happened," the St. Louis Zoo announced earlier this week
Life finds a way!
"On July 23, something incredible happened," the Missouri zoo wrote on Facebook, noting that another facet that makes the news so thrilling is that the snake in question is "over 50 years old," making her the "oldest snake documented in a zoo."
Ball pythons usually begin laying eggs between the ages of 4-6, and stop before their sixties, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The zoo went on to offer two explanations for how this possibly could have happened.
"Ball pythons, native to central and western Africa, are known to reproduce sexually and asexually, which is called facultative parthenogenesis," they wrote, noting that "snakes are also known to store sperm for delayed fertilization."
For now, the eggs remain a mystery, but the zoo's staff is working to get to the bottom of it!
"As the keepers continue to incubate the eggs, they will be sending off samples for genetic testing," the post concluded.
As for how the eggs are doing, three remain incubated while two were used for genetic sampling and another two did not survive, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Mark Wanner, a zoological manager of herpetology at the zoo, went on to tell the outlet that if the remaining snakes survive, they’ll hatch in around a month. "That would be pretty incredible," Wanner remarked.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch also reported that the female snake has laid eggs on two other occasions, once in 1990 and again in 2009.