Snakes, in general, are not so good parents, and most of the snake species leave their offsprings alone without giving any care. But now, a new study has revealed that pythons are an objection in this case, and this snake species used to do a bit of parenting. The study report is now available in the Journal of Zoology.
The study was led by Graham Alexander, a reptile researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. The research team has been spending more than seven years observing South African pythons which can grow up to sixteen feet long. Using infrared cameras installed in burrows, the team monitored the activities of eight snakes which laid eggs.
The video of the recording from the burrows literally surprised the researchers. In the initial days, the mother snakes turned from their normal mottled brown to a dark black which helped them to absorb heat from the sun. After basking in the sun for some time, these snakes slither back to the burrows and used to coil the hatched eggs to keep it warm throughout the night.
After the birth of the young snakes, the mother python repeats the same thing, and keep its 40-50 babies warm throughout the night. The snake continued this for two weeks and said adios to the babies, as they were capable to live on their own.
The new study report indicates that biologists have to learn more about the ways in which reptiles like snakes do parenting.
"Research is showing that snake reproductive biology is far more complex and sophisticated than we previously thought, and there is a range of behaviors that have been recorded in several species that can be classed as maternal care. For example, biologists are discovering that females of many types of rattlesnakes show maternal care of babies. In some species, mothers appear to even cooperate by taking shifts to look after young," said Graham Alexander in a press release.
It should be also noted that this is for the first time that an egg-laying snake has been found giving care to its little ones.