Do Snakes Lay Eggs? (The 3 Reproductive Methods)

The simple answer is yes. Snakes do lay eggs, however, not all snakes do.

Around 70% of the increasingly known 3789 species of snakes discovered lay clutches of eggs and the other 30% give birth to live young. 

Keep reading this article to learn more about snakes and their reproductive process.

The 3 Ways Snakes Reproduce

Although snakes either lay eggs or give birth to live young, there are actually 3 ways they achieve this.

Oviparous

Oviparous is the most common method of reproduction in the Serpentes world. This is when they lay clutches of eggs, like other animals who lay eggs, they’ll need to be incubated, cared for, and protected until the hatchlings are ready to hatch.

Viviparous

Viviparous is a method of reproduction in snakes where no eggs are used. This means they birth live young, like mammals. 

Typically, viviparous snakes tend to be the more dangerous or are better when it comes to defending themselves from predators.

Ovoviviparous

Ovoviviparous is actually a mixture of both the previous methods. They do give birth to live young, however, they also create eggs but do not lay them.

Ovoviviparous snakes will incubate the eggs from inside their bodies and will eventually hatch inside as well. Causing the hatchling to be birthed live just like a viviparous snake would.

This is an uncommon reproduction method, but it is used by other species such as the Blue-Tongued Skink.

Fun Fact: Snakes smell with their tongues.

How Many Eggs Do Snakes Lay?

To put it simply, the range of eggs laid in a clutch can be 1 – 100+, with the current known record being 111 discovered in a Python nest in the Florida Everglades ecosystem in 2022.

There is no parenting involved when the eggs hatch, all hatchlings must fend for themselves as soon as they emerge.

How Many Live Young Do Snakes Birth?

Similar to egg clutches, there is a range of how many snakes are born at once but the number is not as high. The range for live snakes birthed typically is 10 – 30. 

Some snakes, like Boa Constrictors can birth up to 60 live snakes at once.

Fun Fact: Snakes don’t have eyelids. They sleep with their eyes open and are unable to blink. They have a thin membrane over their eyes preventing them from drying.

25 Oviparous Snakes (Lays Eggs)

  1. Pythons (Pythonidae)
  2. Kingsnakes and Milksnakes (Lampropeltis)
  3. Rat Snakes
  4. Gopher Snakes, Pine Snakes, and Bullsnakes (Pituophis spp)
  5. Racers (Coluber spp)
  6. Hognose Snakes (Heterodon spp)
  7. True Cobras (Naja spp)
  8. Dwarf Pipe Snakes (Anomochilus spp)
  9. Calabar Boa (Calabaria reinhardtii)
  10. Round Island Boas (Bolyeriidae)
  11. Vine Snakes (Thelotornis)
  12. Coachwhips (Masticophis)
  13. Keelback Snakes (Rhabdophis ssp)
  14. Ringneck Snakes (Diadophis punctatus ssp)
  15. Boomslang (Dispholidus typus)
  16. Green Snakes (Opheodrys spp)
  17. Catsnakes (Telescopus spp)
  18. Coral Snakes (Calliophis, Hemibungarus, and, Sinomicrurus)
  19. Egg-Eating Snakes (Dasypeltis spp)
  20. Flying Snakes (Chrysopelea spp)
  21. Grass Snakes (Natrix Natrix ssp)
  22. North American Ground Snakes (Sonora spp)
  23. Mud Snakes (Farancia spp)
  24. Mambas (Dendroaspis spp)
  25. Sea Kraits (Laticauda spp)

13 Ovoviviparous/Viviparous Snakes (Births live Young)

  1. Adders (Vipera berus ssp)
  2. False Coral Snake (Anilius scytale ssp)
  3. Madagascaran Boas (Sanziniinae)
  4. Boa Constrictors (Boa ssp)
  5. Tree Boas (Corallus ssp)
  6. Rainbow Boas (Epicrates ssp)
  7. Sand Boas (Erycinae)
  8. Garter Snakes (Thamnophis spp)
  9. Copperhead and Cottonmouths (Agkistrodon spp)
  10. Anacondas (Eunectes ssp)
  11. Water Snakes (Nerodia ssp)
  12. Earth Snakes (Virginia spp)
  13. Broad-headed Snakes (Hoplocephalus spp)

Summary

In closing, the exploration of snake reproduction reveals the Serpentes world is not only defined by their striking appearances and behaviors but also by their intricate means of ensuring the survival of their species. 

The question “Do snakes lay eggs?” is merely the starting point on a journey that unveils the complex tapestry of life’s evolution and adaptation, where every species finds its own way to thrive in the ever-changing embrace of the natural world.