An Adult ball python that shouldn’t lay eggs did at a St. Louis Zoo

a ball python curled up

An Adult ball python laid seven eggs at St. Louis Zoo reported Zoo management in a statement on Tuesday.  The problem? That python was 62 years old and way past its prime.

The statement further read, “that might not sound too thrilling to some, but to our Herpetarium staff, it was. This particular female snake is over 50 years old (the oldest snake documented in a Zoo) and has not been with a male in over 15 years!’

As the St. Louis Zoo explained, this is an unusual case because a python female stops reproducing before 60. In this case, the snake is over 60. Moreover, it had not been near to a male for the last two decade

This news triggered many questions in the minds of the people. Some said if the female ball python had not been near a male for the last two decades, how were the eggs fertilized?

The Zoo manager for herpetology, Mark Wanner, said that the snakes could reproduce sexually and asexually. But, asexual reproduction in ball-pythons is unusual and is more common in Komodo dragons and some rattlesnakes.

He continued that the snakes can sometimes store the sperm for delayed fertilization, which might have happened in this case. 

“It is unusual but not rare for ball pythons to reproduce asexually, and” the snakes also sometimes store sperm for delayed fertilization,” said Mark. 

adult ball python of the albino type curled up hiding its head
The adult ball python laid eggs on July 23. Out of the seven eggs, three are in the incubator. Two were separated for genetic testing to learn the reasons for this unusual reproduction. Whereas the reaming two could not survive.  

‘Without genetic testing, Zoo staff won’t know if this ball python reproduced sexually or asexually, but they intend to find out,’ reads the statement.

‘As the keepers continue to incubate the eggs, they will be sending off samples for genetic testing.’

Currently, there are two ball pythons in the St.Loise Zoo. One is this female. The other is a 32-year old male. But, the male is in a separate compartment of the herpetarium. 

The female has been at the Zoo for more than 50 years now. It came to the Zoo in 1961 from a private owner. At that time, she was 3-year old. She is currently 62, and the oldest snake we know of in history,’ said Mark, the Zoo manager.