How do Snakes Reproduce?

California snakes have developed various breeding methods depending largely on their environment. As with every animal there is competition between males for a female they want to mate with. This can lead to displays of violence with neck biting being a common means of domination.

Male Los Angeles snakes will become entwined and try to pull each other down, and tower over each other. The male who wins the battle for the female’s affections will then proceed to mate with her. This is done by means of forked hemipenes that are stored, inverted, in the male’s tail. He uses these grooved, hooked or spined organs to grip the walls of the female’s cloaca. All snake fertilization is internal. They don’t have external fertilization like frogs or fish. This is a much more economical means of fertilization and ensures a better chance of young being born.

Most Los Angeles snakes will then lay eggs and abandon them. Not many snakes will even bother to make a nest for their eggs. Some snakes however, like the king cobra will construct a nest and stay with the eggs until they hatch. Most coil themselves around their egg clutches and stay with them until the baby California snakes emerge. The female pythons will only leave their eggs to lie in the sun a bit, or drink some water. They will even shake to generate heat to help the eggs incubate. Some species of snakes are ovoviviparous. This means that they have eggs, but carry them inside their bodies. So they keep their eggs safe and warm until they are ready to hatch. This is how garter snakes reproduce. The boa constrictor and green anaconda are fully viviparous and give birth to live young. They feed their babies through a placenta and a yolk sac much like mammals. In warmer climates it is more usual for snakes to lay eggs allowing the heat from the environment to incubate and hatch them. However, in colder climates it is necessary for snakes to keep their eggs warm, and so they have developed the means to carry the eggs inside their bodies or to carry live young. California snakes have developed over millennia into very efficient creatures. They have found ways to make their reproduction work in their favor regardless of the environment.

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