Do All Snakes Lay Eggs?

Although they are reptiles, not all snakes lay eggs – around 30% of snake species (like this boa constrictor) give birth to live young.
Although they are reptiles, not all snakes lay eggs – around 30% of snake species (like this boa constrictor) give birth to live young.

Most snakes lay a batch of eggs – ranging in number from one or two to as many as a hundred – and abandon the nest soon afterward. About 30 percent of snake species, however, reproduce with live births, just like mammals. Viviparous snakes such as boa constrictors, vipers, and green anacondas develop their young through a placenta and a yolk sac, and can give birth to as many as 150 baby snakes.

A third type of birthing process involves both eggs and live births. These snakes produce eggs but keep them in their oviducts until they’re ready to greet the world as fully developed baby snakes.

The lowdown on snakes:

  • The world’s smallest snake resembles an earthworm. The thread snake grows to about 3.9 inches (10 cm). The largest snake in the world, known as the reticulated python, can span 30 feet (9 m) when fully developed.

  • Size doesn’t matter to snakes. They can eat animals that are twice their size, according to National Geographic. Contrary to popular belief, though, snakes do not "unhinge" their jaws. Instead, they have very stretchy ligaments that allow them to open their mouths wider than their bodies.

  • Snakes use a forked or split tongue to smell and taste chemical compositions in the air. They don't have eyelids or ears, and their eyes don't move. Vibrations transmitted through the ground keep them aware of their surroundings.

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    • Although they are reptiles, not all snakes lay eggs – around 30% of snake species (like this boa constrictor) give birth to live young.
      Although they are reptiles, not all snakes lay eggs – around 30% of snake species (like this boa constrictor) give birth to live young.