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‘Miracle Birth’: Renaldo the Celibate Rainbow Boa Gave Birth

There’s a lot to unpack in the story about a rescued Brazilian rainbow boa called Renaldo who now lives in the animal-care program at the City of Portsmouth College. Staff and students were shocked last week to find that Renaldo gave birth to 14 little baby boas. First of all, they thought Renaldo was a male. Second, Renaldo hasn’t seen another snake in nine years . . .

It appears that when it comes to the birds and the bees of snake reproduction, there’s a longer story.

“The miracle birth was due to the extremely rare phenomenon of parthenogenesis, a natural form of asexual reproduction in which embryos develop without fertilisation,” said the City of Portsmouth College in a news release. Staff believe this is just the third known occurrence in a captive Brazilian rainbow boa.

A student discovered the impossible babies during a regular check of Ronaldo and his/her habitat. At first, everyone thought it was some sort of mistake. Then, they called their snake expert. He said it’s shocking, but not impossible. Also, Renaldo is a girl—a mom, in fact.

“I’ve been breeding snakes for 50 years and I’ve never known this happen before,” said reptile specialist Pete Quinlan (the snake expert). “Effectively the babies are clones of their mother although their markings are all slightly different.”

Congratulations to Renado—Renalda?—and her human family, who couldn’t be more thrilled.

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