Russell’s viper gives birth to 35 in a litter

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A Russell’s viper (Daboia), in captivity for the last two days for observation, gave birth to 35 young ones in a single litter at the District Livestock Farm at Hosur on Saturday night.

According to D. Saravanan, Head of the Embryo Transfer Laboratory of the District Livestock Farm, who is authorised by the Forest Department to rescue snakes, the Russell’s viper was found in a residential area on Thursday.

Given the size of the snake, it was kept under observation.

Other snakes lay eggs and hatch them, but Russell’s viper is an ovoviviparous species, giving birth to young ones by hatching the eggs in the body.

Russell’s vipers are known for giving birth to a minimum of 20 and a maximum of 40 in a litter.

Dr. Saravanan said the birth of 35 in a litter, in captivity, was interesting. Reports indicate that Russell’s viper had so far given birth to 65.

The reptile started giving birth on Saturday night and continued late into the night for nearly five hours.

Russell’s vipers are terrestrial in nature and nocturnal foragers and found largely in South Asia. Mating happens in the beginning of the year, and the snakes give birth from May to November and the maximum births take place in June and July.

As the little ones were independent from day one, they would be released, along with their mother, into the forest early next week, Dr. Saravanan said.

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