What Snakes Give Live Birth?

Snakes may have similar body plans, but they are among the most diverse species on earth. So with nearly 3,000 snake species worldwide, its unsurprising to find these reptiles in varying sizes and diets.

In this case, the snakes nourish their developing young via a placenta or yolk sac, something thats unusual among reptiles. Image Credit: Cormac Price, ShutterstockThese snake species are also known as ring-necked spitting cobras.

These snakes are native to Asia, Africa, Europe, and Central, North, and South America. Image Credit: Patrick K. Campbell, ShutterstockThe Colubrid family of snakes typically lays eggs. They are viviparous, which means their young meet all requirements for development inside the placenta or the yolk sac.

Water snakes live in wet regions like freshwater ponds and swamps, the most likely reason they adapted to this reproduction method. Otherwise, it would have been risky and hard to find a dry and warm place to lay and develop their eggs. These snakes have an interesting reproductive cycle as swarms of males are usually attracted to the same female during the mating season.

Mother Garters give birth to between three to eighty baby snakes and usually stays pregnant for two to three months. Image Credit: Luis Cesar Tejo, ShutterstockElapids such as cobras, kraits, coral snakes, and their relatives lay eggs. The former subspecies are native to Amazon and South-eastern Brazil, while the latter lives in South Central America, Venezuela, and Colombia.

Image credit: Pixabay Rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous, which means that the mother incubates the eggs inside her body before giving birth to live baby snakes. This suggests that these snakes only developed to give birth to live young to achieve better neonatal survival rates. Predation, cold temperatures, lack of dry and warm land, and scavenging are some of the conditions that caused them to evolve.

Oliver (Ollie) Jones A zoologist and freelance writer living in South Australia with his partner Alex, their dog Pepper, and their cat Steve (who declined to be pictured). Ollie, originally from the USA, holds his masters degree in wildlife biology and moved to Australia to pursue his career and passion but has found a new love for working online and writing about animals of all types.

What kind of snakes give live birth?

Water snakes, rat snakes, and garter snakes are some of the members of the large colubrid family. Water snakes are among the few members of the colubrid family that give birth to live young. They are viviparous, which means their young meet all requirements for development inside the placenta or the yolk sac.

Do all venomous snakes give live birth?

The highly venomous king cobra builds a nest for her eggs, and even stays with the hatchlings for a while after they have hatched. Conclusion: Most of the world’s snake species (about 70%) reproduce by laying eggs. But vipers, rattlesnakes, boas, and most of the sea snakes give birth to live young.

Do copperhead snakes give live birth?

Luckily, MassWildlife Herpetologist Mike Jones was able to document a live birth. … Copperheads are ovoviviparous, which means they give birth to their young encased in an amniotic sac, rather than laying eggs like many other snakes. After giving birth, a copperhead mother does not care for her young.

Death adders will usually resort to playing dead when they are threatened, and they rarely bite, even though they are capable of striking in less than one-tenth of a second.

Keep reading to learn about the 11 different species of snakes which give live birth. However, sea snakes differ from other Elapids such as cobras, adders, and mambas because they give live birth.

A sea krait usually seeks out land to mate, digest its food, and lay eggs. Rinkhals are very aggressive creatures, and this behavior is thought to be why these snakes developed the ability to give live birth. Their natural habitat includes Asia, Africa, Europe, and North, Central, and South America.

This is likely due to their habitat consisting of wet areas such as freshwater ponds and swamps. Snake eggshells are also thin and fragile, which creates a drowning risk if they are laid near a body of water. Water snakes are viviparous, and their young develops inside of a placenta or yolk sac.

As if their mating habits werent different enough, female garter snakes are also capable of storing sperm for several years. They increase the viability of their offspring by only releasing sperm to be fertilized when environmental conditions are favorable. Female garter snakes give birth to anywhere from 3-80 babies, staying pregnant for 2-3 months.

Female boa constrictors are usually pregnant for 4-5 months, and then they give live birth to around 10-60 neonates. Death adders are a member of the Elapidae family, including cobras, kraits, and coral snakes. Most Elapids lay eggs, but death adders differ because they give birth to live young.

White-lipped snakes are viviparous, and it is believed they evolved to give birth to live young because of the frigid temperatures in their native habitat. A gravid white-lipped snake can get into the sun to warm itself and, in turn, the babies growing in its body. This ability allows the developing embryos to achieve much higher temperatures than in a nest underneath some leaves and soil.

The Amazon Tree Boa is an arboreal snake species, and they give birth to live young. The other subspecies, corallus hortulanus cooki, lives in the southern areas of Central America and Venezuela and Colombia. Amazon Tree Boas become sexually mature at three years old, and they are pregnant for 6-8 months before giving birth.

Once the embryos are fully developed, they will hatch, and the rattlesnake will give birth to live neonates. Rattlesnakes are highly venomous, and it is much easier for a snake to use this self-defense mechanism than it would be for her to protect a nest of eggs. A majority of snake species are oviparous, which means they reproduce by laying a clutch of eggs.

A viviparous snake gives birth to live young without developing eggs at any point in the process. The baby snakes receive all of their nourishment through the mothers placenta or yolk sac. These snakes usually give live birth, and the eggs remain inside of their body where they are reabsorbed.

Oviparous snakes have a different parenting method since they need to keep watch over their eggs after laying them. Snake eggs are a prime target for predators, so they must be looked after until the babies hatch. Snakes who give live birth can easily keep their young warm by moving into the sun and curling their bodies around them.

Many live-bearing snakes live in cool climates, so it makes sense for them to warm their young more easily. Live-bearing snakes can live closer to bodies of water, whereas the wet conditions of these areas are not ideal for eggs to thrive. If a snake egg gets wet, the shell may be damaged or develop a harmful mold or fungus.

If you are getting a male snake, it makes no difference whether or not it lays eggs or gives live birth. You will be able to make your decision based on the snakes care requirements, size, appearance, and personality. Dystocia is a very serious issue, and in most cases, if veterinary care is not sought as soon as possible, the snake may die.

With live-bearing species, you do not need an incubator because the gravid snake develops the embryos inside her body. This gestation period usually lasts for several months, and it takes a significant toll on the females body. A live-bearing female will take much longer to recover and restore her fat reserves after breeding than an egg-laying species.

It is a common misconception made by reptile lovers and nature enthusiasts alike that all snakes lay eggs. Eight main types of oviparous snakes give live birth.

From the moment they are born, the Amazon Tree Boa litter is completely independent. Each baby snake is around two feet long when born and can already move, hunt, and swim by itself.

During especially wet seasons in tropical South America and the Andes, Anacondas can give birth underwater. With a gestation period of eight months, Boa Constrictor mothers give birth to anywhere from 10 to 64 babies. The Garter Snake is very common and also called the Colubridae in the genus Thamnophis family.

Though the size stays relatively consistent, the number of litters born per year can fluctuate. They are venomous pit vipers from the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus Crotalinae subfamily. They like dry and hot regions and are often found in the Southwest of North America and Mexico.

While Rattlesnakes gestate around 25 eggs internally, only four to ten of them are born live as baby snakes. This has evolved due to the difficulty of survival and low water intake in dry desert locations. Most Rattlesnakes give live birth in the July, August, September, and October months.

Most baby Sea Snakes are half the size of the mother when born and follow her to learn to swim. Immediately at birth, the baby snakes can hunt, swim, bite, and eat. However, baby Water Snakes cannot thrive in captivity, and females must breed in the wild.

It is a tiny black or gray snake that is extremely venomous and dangerous to people. White-lipped Snakes are named for a white line that can be found around their mouth or lip area. It is unclear exactly why White-lipped Snakes give birth in the cold, but it has proven successful at avoiding cold-avoiding predators.

This evolutionary trait has helped these important and fascinating snakes stay alive and thrive.

How Snakes Reproduce: Oviparous, Viviparus, and Ovoviviparous

There are three distinct methods of a snake’s reproduction method. They all vary depending on the snake species. They include:

Oviparous

Most snakes are oviparous, which means that they reproduce by laying eggs. Therefore, the snakes must incubate and keep the eggs warm until the hatchlings emerge from the shell.

Viviparous

Viviparous snakes give birth to live young. There are no eggs involved at any stage of development.In this case, the snakes nourish their developing young via a placenta or yolk sac, something that’s unusual among reptiles.

Ovoviviparous

You can think of ovoviviparity as a “cross” between an egg-laying snake and one that gives live births. Ovoviviparous snakes develop non-shelled eggs inside their bodies, where the young develop from. But the young ones are usually born alive without the eggs or eggshells because they remain inside the mother.It means that the eggs hatch inside the mother, and the baby snake emerges with no shell. Amazing!

Sea Snakes

Sea snakes belong to the Elapidae family of snakes alongside snakes like cobras, mambas, and adders, although Elapids generally lay eggs.These snakes live underwater and rarely or never visit the land. Unfortunately, snake eggs won’t incubate and develop underwater, so most sea snakes incubate inside their bodies.The Krait is the only sea snake species that lay eggs. It visits land to mate, digests its food, and lay eggs.

Rinkhals

These snake species are also known as ring-necked spitting cobras. Although Rinkhals are related to egg-laying cobras, they are ovoviviparous.They probably developed this reproduction method due to their incredible self-defense mechanism. Predators would have to face mother Rinkhal to get her eggs, and they know better not to.

Vipers and Pit Vipers

Most vipers and pit vipers, except a few snakes like the bushmasters, are live-bearers. These snakes are native to Asia, Africa, Europe, and Central, North, and South America.Vipers and pit vipers are all venomous reptiles. They also prefer environments with a cool climate.

Water Snakes

The Colubrid family of snakes typically lays eggs. Water snakes, rat snakes, and garter snakes are some of the members of the large colubrid family.Water snakes are among the few members of the colubrid family that give birth to live young. They are viviparous, which means their young meet all requirements for development inside the placenta or the yolk sac.Water snakes live in wet regions like freshwater ponds and swamps, the most likely reason they adapted to this reproduction method.Otherwise, it would have been risky and hard to find a dry and warm place to lay and develop their eggs. In addition, snake eggshells are thin, so it’s easy for them to drown.

Garter Snakes

Here are other snake species that give birth to live baby snakes. Garter snakes are ovoviviparous reproducers and a member of the colubrid family.These snakes have an interesting reproductive cycle as swarms of males are usually attracted to the same female during the mating season. This creates a kind of a massive breeding ball, hosting up to 25 males for one female!That’s not all, as the females are capable of storing sperm for years. They release them to fertilize their eggs only if the living conditions become favorable.Mother Garters give birth to between three to eighty baby snakes and usually stays pregnant for two to three months.

Boa Constrictors

Boa Constrictors, just like other Boas except for the Calabar Boa snake, are livebearers. Baby snakes develop inside their mother’s body for about four to five months before the mothers give birth to a litter of around 10 to 60 neonates.However, unlike the other Boas who developed this method, possibly due to their predecessor’s living conditions, no one knows why Boa Constrictors are viviparous.

Some Elapids

Elapids such as cobras, kraits, coral snakes, and their relatives lay eggs. However, others like Acanthopis, also known as Death adders, give live birth like sea snakes.

White-lipped Snakes

White-lipped snakes are sub-species of elapid snakes. They should be reserved for experienced owners because of their temper.These snakes are small in nature and viviparous. White-lipped snakes must have evolved to give birth to live young because of the freezing conditions in which they live.

Anacondas

All species of Anaconda, from the yellow Anaconda, green Anaconda, darkly-spotted Anaconda, and the Bolivian Anaconda, reproduce live young ones. Thus, they are viviparous, just like their Boa cousins.Anacondas must have developed this method due to their predecessor’s environment. This birthing method favors these snakes because they are aquatic.Plus, they are fierce, so any predator such as opportunistic birds and critters who feed on anaconda eggs would have to face a pregnant anaconda mother to reach the eggs.

Amazon Tree Boa

The two Amazon Tree Boa subspecies, Corralus hortullanus hortullanus, and the Corallus hortulanus cooki give birth to live young that are independent of their mothers.The former subspecies are native to Amazon and South-eastern Brazil, while the latter lives in South Central America, Venezuela, and Colombia.These snakes become sexually mature at around three years old and have a 6-8 month gestational period.

Rattlesnake

Rattlesnakes are ovoviviparous, which means that the mother incubates the eggs inside her body before giving birth to live baby snakes.These snakes probably developed this form of reproduction because they are very poisonous and defensive. Therefore, the eggs stay inside her rather than in a nest so that no one messes with them.

Which Snakes Give Live Birth?

Eight different types of snakes give live birth. From the Amazon Tree Boa and large Anacondas to small Sea Snakes, they range in shape and size.Though commonly unknown, some snakes give live birth instead of laying eggs. Rather than hatching, a pregnant female snake will birth the baby snakes like a mammal.The snakes that give live birth like this are called oviparous snakes.

Amazon Tree Boa

The Amazon Tree Boa is also known by its scientific name, corallus hortulanus. It is native to South America and commonly seen by people in the south of Colombia.Though there are no subspecies of the Amazon Tree Boa, this snake comes in many different forms. It can be orange, orange, and yellow with spots, gray, and even brown.Amazon Tree Boas are oviparous snakes that give live birth. They are medium-sized and often kept as illegal exotic pets.When they give birth, they have anywhere from eight to 14 snake babies at once. Each female Amazon Tree Boa has only one litter per year. This begins at about the age of three years.From the moment they are born, the Amazon Tree Boa litter is completely independent. All the snakes slither away and leave their parents for good. No parenting is done whatsoever.

Anacondas

The Anaconda is also known as the Green Anaconda or the Giant Anaconda. It is a genus Eunectes type of Boa. Anacondas can live on land and in the water and are semi-aquatic.Anacondas are the biggest snakes in the world and are known for their good swimming capabilities. They are also a type of snake that gives live birth.Anaconda babies are surrounded by a mucous-like sack rather than eggshells. This means that their birth is live and does not require brooding or incubating.When Anaconda snakes have a live birth, they often birth 12 to 14 snakes at once. Each baby snake is around two feet long when born and can already move, hunt, and swim by itself.During especially wet seasons in tropical South America and the Andes, Anacondas can give birth underwater.

Boa Constrictors

Boa Constrictors are also called the Common Boa or Red-Tailed Boa. They are commonly found breeding in Argentina and Mexico. However, they are very adaptable to many climates.Boa Constrictors are oviparous snakes that are also terrestrial and arboreal. This means that they can live or give birth both on the ground and in trees.When Boa Constrictors give birth, they always give live birth. Like Anacondas, the Boa babies are both with a mucus sack around them and must push their way through.With a gestation period of eight months, Boa Constrictor mothers give birth to anywhere from 10 to 64 babies. This is dependent on the food source amount each year and location.The average number of live baby Boa Constrictors born is 25. They are all completely self-sufficient at birth.

Garter Snakes

There are many different types of Garter Snakes, a majority of them giving live birth. The Garter Snake is very common and also called the Colubridae in the genus Thamnophis family.Garter Snakes usually reside in North America and Central America. They tend to enjoy warmer climates and can often be found in residential gardens.Garter Snakes are small and grow only up to around three feet long. Though many people are afraid of snakes, including Garter Snakes, they are harmless.When giving birth, Garter Snakes have anywhere from 20 to 40 babies at one time. Though the size stays relatively consistent, the number of litters born per year can fluctuate.

Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnakes are considered one of the most dangerous snakes in the world. They are venomous pit vipers from the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus Crotalinae subfamily.These venomous snakes are oviparous and give live birth. They like dry and hot regions and are often found in the Southwest of North America and Mexico.While Rattlesnakes gestate around 25 eggs internally, only four to ten of them are born live as baby snakes. They are born at 10 inches long and do not require the care of their mother.A Rattlesnake will only have a litter once every two or three years. This has evolved due to the difficulty of survival and low water intake in dry desert locations.Most Rattlesnakes give live birth in the July, August, September, and October months. Their babies won’t have full rattles until they are at least a year old.

Sea Snakes

Sea Snakes are of the Hydrophiinae smith phylum family and are also often called Coral Snakes. All except one of them give live birth.Sea Snakes always give birth in the water. They seldom come to land for any reason at all. Most baby Sea Snakes are half the size of the mother when born and follow her to learn to swim.When Sea Snakes give birth, they have only around two to nine babies at a time. The record amount of Sea Snakes ever born at once is 34.Since sea snakes do not give birth in the same place year after year and swim away quickly after doing so, Sea Snake birth is seldom witnessed or recorded.

Water Snakes

Water Snakes are small, striped, brown, and black snakes. They are non-venomous and live mostly in the waters surrounding North America.Water Snakes, unlike Sea Snakes, dislike salty water. They can also survive both on land and in water, unlike Sea Snakes.When Water Snakes have offspring, they do so through live birth. Females begin to give birth to babies at around two years old and have one litter every three years.Contrary to some other snake species, Water Snakes do not eat their young. Immediately at birth, the baby snakes can hunt, swim, bite, and eat. They require no maternal care.Baby snakes tend to be small at under one foot long. This makes them seem like cute pets. However, baby Water Snakes cannot thrive in captivity, and females must breed in the wild.

White-lipped Snakes

The White-lipped Snake is also called the Drysdalia Coronoides. It is a tiny black or gray snake that is extremely venomous and dangerous to people.White-lipped Snakes are named for a white line that can be found around their mouth or lip area. They are native to Australia and Tasmania.White-lipped Snakes easily tolerate the cold. Therefore, they do not give live birth, but instead lay eggs out of survival necessity.It is unclear exactly why White-lipped Snakes give birth in the cold, but it has proven successful at avoiding cold-avoiding predators.White-lipped Snakes usually give birth anywhere from March through the end of April. Two to eight babies are born with each annual litter.

Why Some Snakes Give Live Birth

The reason that some snakes give live birth is dependent on climate. If a snake is living in a climate that is slightly too cold, it will not lay eggs.Snake eggs will likely freeze and die if not warm enough. Due to this danger, most snakes living in cold climates give live birth to their babies. The babies are then able to slither off alone.Newly born snakes and lone snakes have a better chance of survival. This is especially true in places with a colder climate. The baby snake can create a burrow or protective home to survive.Another reason some snakes give live birth is to avoid predators. If a snake lays eggs in a vulnerable habitat or ecosystem, scavengers could come and eat the eggs.Snake eggs often get eaten while the mother is away feeding herself. Snakes do not get a choice about the type of birth they give. This is why they have evolved.Snakes that live near egg-eating predators have evolved to give live birth. This allows the baby snake to move and climb out of harm’s way.

Snakes and Brooding Patterns

Oviparous snakes make up around 30% of all snakes. The other 70% will always lay multiple eggs. If faulty eggs are laid that do not hatch, snakes will typically consume those eggs.Similarly, oviparous snakes are known to eat their young. They will do this only if their offspring is stillborn or has a defect upon its live birth.Some egg-laying snakes will stay with their eggs until they hatch. This is known as brooding. While some egg-laying snakes do brood, most oviparous snakes leave their babies once born.