November 2016

Eggs in sheds

What are these? I found them in my shed.

Answer

Cluster of dried-out Carpet Python eggs A female python incubates her eggs

The specimen in the photo is a cluster of python eggs, and is almost certainly from the Carpet Python (Morelia spilota mcdowelli).

Pythons are unusual among snakes because they actively incubate their eggs. The mother will bask in the sun to warm her body, then return to the eggs and wrap herself around them. This transfers some of the heat that she absorbed into the eggs. When she cannot bask, she will shiver to generate heat.

All snake eggs have soft, leathery shells. When the mother python incubates her eggs she holds them together, causing them to stick in a clump.

It seems that at least one of these eggs failed to hatch. The bones of one baby snake are visible protruding through a hole in the shell. This indicates that the egg had probably developed nearly to the point of hatching before it died. The other eggs may have hatched successfully.

Carpet Pythons are common around human dwellings in Queensland where they provide a useful rodent disposal service! Adult pythons use heat-sensing pits on their faces to detect warm prey, enabling them to hunt even in total darkness. Pythons aren’t venomous, but they do have very sharp teeth and will bite to defend themselves (particularly when guarding eggs).

 

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.