Ratsnake eggs and embryo

Ratsnake eggs and embryo


Since I was just writing about snakes giving birth and laying eggs last week, I thought I would share with you an exciting find made by Karen Sommerlad and David Cobb of Sunderland. Just last week they were moving their compost pile and discovered 14 snake eggs. Twelve had already hatched and two were nonviable.

I rarely get reports of snake eggs and have found them myself only a couple times. So finding any snake eggs in the wild is exciting. In this case, they were even more exciting since they were Eastern Ratsnake eggs, an S2, state-threatened species and the eggs were from a population on the margin of the ratsnake’s known range in Vermont. My wife Kris and I picked up the eggs this morning. One of the nonviable eggs contained a 3/4 developed and slightly rotten embryo, but the other contained a fully formed dead embryo. I dissected the egg and had my wife Kris take a series of photos as we removed the shell and stretched out the embryo. The eggs were roughly 24X43 mm (1 by 1 3/4 inches) and the embryo was 280 mm (11 inches) long. Notice where the yolk sac is still attached (the snake’s belly button).


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