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The Cultivars (morphs)/Genetics Issues Discussions about genetics issues and/or the various cultivars for cornsnakes commercially available.

Virgin Corn Laid Fertile Eggs!
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Old 12-02-2004, 07:16 AM   #1
Question Virgin Corn Laid Fertile Eggs!

I have a ghost corn female that I kept seperate as she was not eating very well and regurgitated a lot. As a result she took rather long to grow. In breeding season I noticed that she looked gravid but didn't worry too much as I knew she had never been with other snakes, let alone a male - since she was a hatchling. However, she went on to lay 8 fertile eggs that all hatched! The babies were all perfect but all were strange and unusual colours (beautiful colouring). None of them were ghost corns though. Has anybody else experienced anything like this? Furthermore, she was only 18 months when she laid and I would never have paired her up anyway. We've had a couple of young snakes lay infertile eggs without having been mated, but to have a virgin snake have 8 fertile eggs - that is wierd? I'd be very grateful for any ideas?

Many thanks,
Old 12-02-2004, 11:45 AM   #2
Snakes are known to reproduce parthenogenetically. I believe the most famous example is a burmese python in a zoo in Europe, but quite a few hot keepers have had their crotalids give birth to young without ever having been mated.
Old 12-02-2004, 01:20 PM   #3
Hm... if the offspring were weird colors, then I think we'd all like to see photos of them... But yes, an odd and rare occurance, not something I've heard of second hand before, let alone witnessed... (but something I have read of in books as having happened once or twice before).

Old 12-02-2004, 01:35 PM   #4
I too would like to see some pics of the wierd colores offspring...j/c
Old 12-02-2004, 03:30 PM   #5
As someone else pointed out, if a ghost were to fertilize herself, all the offspring should be ghosts (or I would think other things in addition to hypo/anery, such as ghost motleys or snows or something). Definitely post pics if possible.

Also (if this were the case) since the female carries both Z and W chromosomes, should the offspring really be all females, or should there be a mix of males and females? Are there any details about the offspring of the burm that was mentioned?
Old 12-02-2004, 03:32 PM   #6
Rich Z
If this were in fact a true case of parthenogenesis, wouldn't all of the hatchlings be Ghosts?
Old 12-02-2004, 04:58 PM   #7
Originally Posted by Rich Z
If this were in fact a true case of parthenogenesis, wouldn't all of the hatchlings be Ghosts?

You're absolutely correct. They should all be ghosts, and should all be females. Parthenogenesis is in reality a clone of the mother. The babies should not be recieving any other genes than the mothers, but who knows.
Old 12-02-2004, 05:23 PM   #8
Jason B.
There was an article in Reptiles magizine as well as reports on the web about the burmese. All of the offspring where the same as the mother right down to each and every scale.
Are you sure the mother wasn't with a male even for a short period? I have had snakes mate when being transported together for only 45 minutes. maybe put with another while cages where being cleaned ect?
Old 12-02-2004, 08:15 PM   #9
All of the offspring from the Burm were female.
Old 12-03-2004, 12:33 AM   #10
E. g. guttata
In parthenogenesis ("virgin birth"), the females produce eggs, but these develop into young without ever being fertilized.

Parthenogenesis occurs in some fishes, several kinds of insects, and a few species of lizards. It does not normally occur in mammals because of their imprinted genes. However, using special manipulations to circumvent imprinting, laboratory mice have been produced by parthenogenesis. [Link]
In a few nonmammalian species it is the only method of reproduction, but more commonly animals turn to parthenogenesis only at certain times. For example, aphids use parthenogenesis in the spring when they find themselves with ample food. Reproduction by parthenogenesis is more rapid that sexual reproduction, and the use of this mode of asexual reproduction permits the animals to quickly exploit the available resources.

Parthenogenesis is forced on some species of wasps when they become infected with bacteria (in the genus Wolbachia). Wolbachia can pass to a new generation through eggs, but not through sperm, so it is advantageous to the bacterium for females to be made rather that males.

In these wasps (as in honeybees),
fertilized eggs (diploid) become females;
unfertilized (haploid) eggs become males.
However, in Wolbachia-infected females, all their eggs undergo endoreplication producing diploid eggs that develop into females without fertilization; that is, by parthenogenesis.
Treating the wasps with an antibiotic kills off the bacteria and "cures" the parthenogenesis!

Apis mellifera capensis
Occasionally worker honeybees develop ovaries and lay unfertilized eggs. Usually these are haploid, as you would expect, and develop into males. However, workers of the subspecies Apis mellifera capensis (the Cape honeybee) can lay unfertilized diploid eggs that develop into females (who continue the practice). The eggs are produced by meiosis, but then the polar body nucleus fuses with the egg nucleus restoring diploidy (2n). (The phenomenon is called automictic thelytoky.)
Here is something I found on parthenogenesis. If I am reading this correctly, there is an outside chance that these corns would be male (haploid) and therefore look different from their mother. Not sure, but it's all I've got. Please post pics ASAP.

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