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A sad sight

January 30, 2013
by

1-DSCN3930A car skidding to a halt, rapidly reversing and roaring off on the dirt road right outside our place alerted us to the likelihood of a snake being run over. Sure enough, on inspection we found a mangled Common (or Eastern) Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis), complete with 8 undamaged eggs. The Common Brown Snake is oviporous and can lay up to 35 eggs with an average clutch of about 15. It got us pondering some questions: are all the eggs formed at once with a single fertilisation, or over a longer period with multiple fertilisations, or can the female snake retain sperm for fertilisation at an appropriate time? – any answers or comments would be appreciated.

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If this snake kill was deliberate, it is not only senseless, but also illegal, as snakes are protected under the  Wildlife Act – we wonder if the driver is aware of this (or even cares!). But perhaps we should be generous and assume the snake was accidentally run over and the driver reversed to put the injured animal out of its misery.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Steve Junghenn permalink
    January 30, 2013 8:55 pm

    Female snakes can mate with several males and numerous times before they actually achieve fertilization of their eggs, at which time they become gravid. Depending on the maturity of the female snake can also determine the size of the clutch of eggs or number of live young they have. Eastern Brown snakes are an egg layer and can lay up to 30 eggs in a clutch. It is not uncommon for any female reptile species to store sperm from a single mating for several months and then produce fertile eggs.
    Just a point of interest, Tiger snakes and Red Bellied Black snakes, which we also find around our area, produce live young.

    I am not as generous with my assumption of the car drivers intention and from the damage to the snake, the intention is obviously not sympathetic towards the snake.
    Often you can accidently drive over a snake and not do significant life threatening damage ,unless you skid on it. Steve Junghenn

    • January 31, 2013 8:14 am

      Thanks for the information Steve – really interesting stuff.
      Be assured, our first reaction to the ‘accident’ was not generous!

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