Boa thought to be male gives birth to 14 snakes by extremely rare virgin birth phenomenon

Staff and students were stunned to discover that their 6-foot Brazilian rainbow boa snake, Ronaldo, had given birth to 14 babies. (City of Portsmouth College)

An extremely rare occurrence of a male snake giving birth to over a dozen baby boas has shocked students and faculty at a United Kingdom college. 

Ronaldo, a 13-year-old Brazilian rainbow boa, was believed to be male and had not been in contact with any other snakes for at least nine years, according to researchers at City of Portsmouth College.

Recently, Ronaldo looked a bit heavier than usual, as if he had enjoyed a good meal. However, no one suspected that he, or should we say she, was expecting.

Scientists said the 6-foot snake birthed 14 babies through parthenogenesis, also known as a virgin birth. It's a natural form of asexual reproduction that enables embryo development without fertilization.


This is believed to be only the third time this has been documented in a captive Brazilian Rainbow Boa anywhere in the world.

"We couldn’t believe our eyes," exclaimed animal care technician Amanda McLeod. "One of the students discovered them during a routine vivarium check. At first, we thought she must have been mistaken." 

Some breeds of snakes can reproduce through a process called parthenogenesis. (City of Portsmouth College)

Reptile specialist Pete Quinlan, who has been breeding snakes for over 50 years, was immediately called in to help. He confessed that he was even surprised by the discovery.

"I’ve never known this happen before," he said. "Effectively, the babies are clones of their mother, although their markings are all slightly different."

Quinlan has been taking care of Ronaldo for the past nine years, after the snake was re-homed by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

"It’s a fantastic opportunity for the students to learn about the development of baby snakes," Quinlan added.

The baby snakes will be rehomed once they are healthy and ready to be handled properly. (City of Portsmouth College)

Researchers are currently determining the gender of the baby snakes and preparing new enclosures for the offspring. After the snakes have matured, they will be relocated to new homes.

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