ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Staff at the Saint Louis Zoo still aren't quite sure how it happened, but a female ball python had laid eggs – and she hasn't been with a male python in more than 15 years.
And to make things ever crazier, the snake is more than 50-years-old and ball pythons are known to lay eggs when they're only 4- to 6-years-old.
At this point, it's a bit of a mystery how he became pregnant and laid the eggs in late July, but the Zoo does know it must have happened in one of two possible ways.
- Ball pythons, native to central and western Africa, are known to reproduce sexually and asexually, which is called facultative parthenogenesis and does not require a mate.
- Snakes are also known to store sperm for delayed fertilization.
Without genetic testing, Zoo staff won't know if this ball python reproduced sexually or asexually, but they intend to find out. They'll do this by sending off samples of the eggs to be tested.
Zookeepers will continue to incubate the eggs until they hatch.
The ball python at the Charles H. Hoessle Herpetarium at the Saint Louis Zoo is also the oldest snake documented in a Zoo – at 62-years-old, reports the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
The Zoo posted some photos of the python and her eggs:
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