Snakes lay eggs on both land and water. Sea snakes lay eggs in the water, and they are the only reptiles that do so. Most snakes, however, are terrestrial, and lay eggs on land, in discrete holes in the ground.
Most snakes, like the pine snake, typically burrow a hole in the ground, and this is where they lay eggs. They make slight depressions in the sand or soil, and then this hole serves as their nesting chamber.
About 30% of snakes don’t lay eggs at all, and rather give live birth.
Key points covered in this article are:
- Snake eggs are usually found by humans in foliage, holes and logs.
- The eggs are typically not more than 1 inch long.
- Snakes lay eggs at varying times of year, depending on the species and climate.
- Many snakes abandon their eggs as soon as they’re laid.
Read More: What Do Snake Eggs Look Like?
Where do Snakes Lay Eggs?
Snakes like to lay eggs in warm, moist, and protected locations. There’s a good chance you might find snake eggs in your yard. But, those eggs are going to be in a hidden location like under roots or foliage.
Common places where snakes lay eggs include in compost piles, rotting trees, inside and under logs, beneath leaf piles, divets in the forest floor, and among tree roots.
Snakes will lay eggs wherever the conditions are right. The most important part of their decision making is that they find a spot where the eggs can be naturally insulated from cold weather, and hidden from predators such as birds.
Some snakes will even use their tail to dig a small hole in the ground so the eggs are well-insulated.
Don’t reach in to touch the eggs (it’s best to avoid them entirely) or you might be in for a nasty surprise! While most mother snakes do not protect their eggs, some do, and there may still be a snake who has recently laid her eggs nearby.
It’s best to leave the eggs alone and let nature take its course. The eggs will remain there for between 55 and 60 days (unless a predator find them!) before they hatch.
How Many Eggs Does a Snake Lay?
The average consensus is between 6 and 30 eggs. However, know that there is a variation to this number according to the species. Some snakes lay more eggs than others. For example, the reticulated python can lay up to 80 eggs at a time.
Read More – What Do Snake Nests Look Like?
Here are some notable snakes and their known average egg count:
|Snake Name||Size at Birth (Inches)||Clutch Size (Typical Eggs in a Nest)|
|Ball Python||10 – 16 Inches||1 – 11|
|Hognose Snake||5 – 9 Inches||4 – 23|
|Corn Snake||10 – 15 Inches||10 – 30|
|King Snake||8 – 11 Inches||3 – 24|
|Gopher Snake||12 – 18 Inches||2 – 8|
|Milk Snake||5 – 10 Inches||2 – 17|
|Reticulated Python||24 – 30 Inches||15 – 20|
One of the most unpredictable in terms of egg count is the Eastern Racer. This snake species can lay between 3 and 30 eggs.
How Snake Eggs Hatch
One study about the grass snake shows that snakes develop what is called an egg tooth in order to chip their way out of the egg. Once they are out of the egg, this egg tooth sheds too.
But in the case of the grass snake, this tooth does not get replaced.
In this study, the eggs went through electron microscope scanning. The scientists found out that the egg tooth of the grass snake, inside the egg, has four developmental phases. Unlike normal teeth development, the egg tooth starts its development in the snout.
The development of the egg teeth starts early, about the same time as the real ones. Eventually, hard tissues will develop. This set of teeth is what the snake would use to crack the egg and get out of it.
Related: A List of Snakes that Lay Eggs
What Month do Snakes Lay Eggs?
There is no single answer to this, as there are more than 3,000 species of snakes. The seasons during which they breed depend on their respective habitats.
The tropical natricine snake (Tropidonophis mairii), breed and lay eggs during the drier months of the year. This breed is common in the Australian tropical flood plains.
On the other hand, the coral snake typically breeds at the onset of the rainy season. They lay eggs in the middle of the season, and the eggs finally hatch at the beginning of the dry season.
Some snakes lay eggs in April, and they do this in bushes and plants if they live in a city. If there is a snake egg, it is likely that the mother snake is not there, but one cannot be to sure.
Do Snakes Come Back to their Eggs?
On some occasions, mother snakes will care for their eggs, but other species will leave the eggs as soon as they are laid.
Eggs need to incubate to develop, mature, and hatch. Typically, reptiles produce the heat needed to incubate the eggs. What this means is that the mother comes back for them. The mother wraps herself around the eggs to provide this heat.
Some snakes, however, leave the eggs as soon as they are out of the mother’s body. They never return. In this case, the eggs rely on the environment’s temperature for incubation. The eggs are also in danger of predation.
In captivity, human snake handlers provide the incubation. They use light sources to manage the development and maturity of the eggs.
Many snakes are precocial, which means that they can survive on their own from the moment they’re born. They only need to stay hydrated after hatching. Then, after a week or two, they will shed and start hunting.
Baby snakes, which are called snakelets, are carnivorous. They do not eat plants. Instead, once they reach a stage where they need to feed, they hunt for insects, baby mice, tadpoles, and small fish. At their size, they are still subject to predation from baby crocodiles, frogs, and other snakes.
Some snakes in the python and viper families act like a brood hen. They wait until the eggs hatch, and then they take care of their young until they are matured enough to hunt. Pythons are aggressive, and they will strike at anyone who come close while they are guarding their eggs.
The Key points covered in this article have been:
- Snake eggs are typically small, not more than 1 inch. Bigger snakes lay bigger eggs that are about four inches long.
- Snakes lay eggs at varying seasons and rates. They lay eggs on soil and water, but are usually found by humans in holes and logs.
- Some studies show that snakes inside the embryo develop a special kind of teeth whose main purpose is to break the eggshell.
- Many snakes leave their eggs and never come back, and the snakelets are left to fend for themselves. Yet, some species in the viper and python families have a maternal instinct; they incubate and protect the eggs and care for their young.
For more on baby snakes, check out our baby snake guide.
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