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 small Garter Snakes to the infamous Boa Constrictor, experts have recorded these snake breeds giving live birth like a mammal.
To learn more about the kinds of snakes that give live birth and how they do it, continue reading below.
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.
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 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.
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 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 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 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.
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.
Whether to avoid predators or due to climate, there are 8 snakes that give live birth.
This evolutionary trait has helped these important and fascinating snakes stay alive and thrive.
Other articles you may also like: