Snake has multiple virgin births

Ronaldo, a boa constrictor with brown and black patterning on her skin can be seen wrapped around a broken tree branch
Ronaldo has not had contact with a male in at least nine years [BBC]

A snake that was thought to be male has given birth to 14 snakelets - despite not having a mate.

Ronaldo, a 13-year-old old boa constrictor, produced the tiny reptiles at City of Portsmouth College.

Pete Quinlan, an animal care technician at the college, believed Ronaldo was male until she gave birth and said that "she had not had contact with a male" snake in the nine years that he has had her.

The process of virgin births is known as parthenogenesis and has only ever happened three times to a Brazilian rainbow boa constrictor.

Pete Quinlan holding a snake
Mr Quinlan initially thought Ronaldo was male [BBC]

"I rescued Ronaldo about nine years ago from the RSPCA," Mr Quinlan said.

He added that he started work in animal care at the college two years ago and took his collection of snakes with him.

Mr Quinlan said that on the day of the births, he was elsewhere: "One of the students alerted one of the members of staff that there were baby snakes moving around inside one of the tanks.

"I raced down here to see what was going on and low and behold there were baby snakes everywhere."

Multiple snakelets with brown, grey, black and white colouring on their skins, in a box of soil slithering around
Ronaldo gave birth to 14 snakelets [BBC]

Virgin births do occur among animals.

Many invertebrates, such as insects, can produce offspring asexually, without ever having mated.

They usually do this by cloning themselves, producing genetically identical offspring.

In February, a stingray in the US fell pregnant without having a mate.

Among vertebrate animals, like snakes, it remains a novelty.

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