Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Memphis Zoo to Livestream Births of Rare Snake Species

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 12:59 PM

click to enlarge MEMPHIS ZOO
  • Memphis Zoo
Rare Louisiana snakes are set to hatch over the next two weeks at the Memphis Zoo and the zoo announced Wednesday that it will livestream these births.

Memphis' zoo is one of four conservation centers in the country selected to increase this uncommon snake's breeding population in captivity.

Over the past seven years, the zoo has already bred 10 to 20 Louisiana pine snakes each year, before releasing them to a restored habitat at a national forest in Louisiana.

Twenty-eight eggs possessing what zoo officials call the rarest snake in North America were laid in May at the zoo and have been incubating in tubes with special mineral ever since.

“Hatching in snakes is a protracted event,” said Central Zone curator at the Memphis Zoo, Steve Reichling. “First they slit the leathery eggshell with a sharp tooth that grows on the tip of their snout. Then, they rest for up to a day while they absorb any remaining yolk into their body. Their egg tooth falls off, before finally slipping out of the egg.”

The zoo, working with seven other zoos in the country, will release six of the newly-hatched snakes in the fall and spring, while raising the rest in captivity in an effort to continue increasing the breeding population.

“We are thrilled to welcome these rare snakes here at the Memphis Zoo,” said director of animal programs at the Memphis Zoo, Matt Thompson. “Considering only one-in-three reproductive male Louisiana pine snakes produce hatchlings each year, having 28 eggs is astonishing. It’s so exciting to see our conservation efforts come to fruition."

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