Python Babies Nurtured by Snake Mom in First-Ever Footage

Friday, March 16, 2018
Python Babies Nurtured by Snake Mom in First-Ever Footage
Python Babies Nurtured by Snake Mom in First-Ever Footage

New footage shows southern African rock python mothers caring for their young. Discovery of this mothering behaviour by scientists from South Africa's Witwatersrand University is a first among snakes that lay eggs. Nurturing also happens in some snakes that give birth to live young. Like other pythons, this species incubates its eggs.

But unlike their relatives, southern African pythons can't internally raise their body temperature. Instead, they darken their colouration. As the study author Graham Alexander explains, that may allow more efficient sunbathing.

The mother leaves an aardvark burrow where it's laid its brood and suns itself until it’s near the peak temperature it can survive. Then it returns to the nest to transfer the warmth to the eggs. And the warming process continues after the young have hatched. The offspring move to within the mother's coil to take in the heat, helping them process nourishment they received while in the egg.

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