RAUK - Archived Forum - grass snake eggs

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grass snake eggs:

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Susan H
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Joined: 21 Sep 2006
No. of posts: 5


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Posted: 21 Sep 2006
Hi,
I live in Somerset and I have just joined to try to get some info about the
grass snake eggs I found yesterday in my compost heap. They are
unhatched, still quite heavy - rather longer and narrower than others I
have seen, not so many - about eight - and very varied in size.

They should have been laid when the heap was decomposing and still
generating heat.   I must have inadvertently reduced their cover when I
moved a substantial quantity of the heap a couple of months ago. But I
am sure it was mature compost. They were still covered, and I discovered
them when moving well rotted compost to use. But could they have been
laid there during the heat wave because the heap was already hot enough
then?

The heap is in a warm south facing sloping site, so will have remained
reasonably warm. Is it possible that the eggs are still viable? Can I put
them in one of my other heaps that are still generating heat? Will they be
suitable for captive rearing? For the moment I have just dug them back
into the same heap and await advice. I have got plenty of good habitat.
Vicar
Senior Member
Joined: 02 Sep 2004
No. of posts: 1181


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Posted: 22 Sep 2006

Susan,

Others on here will be able to offer better advice. We had Grass snake eggs hatching here in Surrey as recently as two weeks ago, so, although a little late in the season, if the eggs look in good condition I would have thought there was a fair chance they could be viable.

I would also suggest, that where they are in the compost heap is probably as good, if not better a place for them to hatch, than incubating indoors. I'm unsure about relocating to another heap, as the snake will have chosen the best place to lay, but I'm sure better advice will be forthcoming .


Steve Langham - Chairman    
Surrey Amphibian & Reptile Group (SARG).
GemmaJF
Admin Group
Joined: 25 Jan 2003
No. of posts: 2090


View other posts by GemmaJF
Posted: 22 Sep 2006

I would agree with Steve, best leave them where they are as it is most likely the best place.

I would have thought if the eggs were not viable they would have been likely to have quickly taken on a mould or shrivelled, so if they looked to be in good conditin it is likely they could still hatch. Certainly the recent warm weather would have helped things along and if this year is anything like last reptiles will be active well into the end of October. My advice, leave well alone and fingers crossed for the little hatchlings


Gemma Fairchild, Independent Ecological Consultant
herpetologic2
Senior Member
Joined: 15 Jun 2004
No. of posts: 1369


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Posted: 26 Sep 2006

 

perhaps placing a small piece of dark material (plastic or similar) would help retain heat on the compost pile - it is probably best to leave them undisturbed - the plastic may help to locate the hatchlings

fingers crossed

Jon


Vice Chair of ARG UK - self employed consultant -
visit ARG UK & Alresford Wildlife
Susan H
Member
Joined: 21 Sep 2006
No. of posts: 5


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Posted: 26 Sep 2006
Thanks, all, for your helpful replies, I had already moved the part of the
heap where the eggs were laid - that is when I saw them. I have no idea
of the original depth, but probably about two to three inches.
They had been laid in a heap which was probably in full sun then, but
which had become shaded by fast growing brambles and nettles. This
may have slowed the incubation. I immediately buried them again in
what I think is a similar aspect in another part of the same heap.

I think that the dark material is a good idea, John, as it should help even
out the variations of temperature caused by the nights getting colder. I
have put a piece of dark roofing slate over the spot - and am hoping for a
happy outcome.

I am also building a new heap very close which should generate heat for
the hatchlings, and give them some cover for winter. It has plenty of
loose twiggy and stemmy material at the bottom for easy access. All the
heaps are against an earth bank.

Does any one know how long the incubation period is ? How long should I
wait to see if they have hatched? I am reassured that snakes are still
active for another month or so
Robert V
Senior Member
Joined: 06 Aug 2004
No. of posts: 717


View other posts by Robert V
Posted: 30 Sep 2006

Susan,

In optimum conditions grass snake eggs should take between 66 to seventy days in incubation and to hatch. clearly, becuase the shading aspects that you describe and the disturbance, this could be extended for a good while further. It has even been suggested before that eggs could (in theory) over winter but I certainly wouldn't count on that to happen!

In other threads that I've posted here, you can see that they are fairly predictable in hatching times. this year, I expected a batch that I had been keeping an eye on to hatch 20th aug, but, neos were present on the 15th and 16th, maybe due to the hotter summer.

I take it that when you moved them, you kept them in exactly the same position in terms of how they had been laid? Any turning or disruption could smother the hatchling by the amniotic sac. If they are still white (dont worry about slight indentations or soil staining) and are not attracting mould or yellowing, then they should still hatch. All of the above comments are good ideas. Shame you cant move the whole heap in one go to full south sun!!!!

Cheers

Rob  


RobV
Susan H
Member
Joined: 21 Sep 2006
No. of posts: 5


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Posted: 03 Oct 2006
Thanks Rob, The heap is now unshaded and exposed to as much sun as
is possible , being in a raised situation with an earth bank to the North. It
should get sun from dawn to dusk.

I can't vouch for the position of the eggs being the same as when laid, as
they came out in a spadeload into the barrow. But I deduced that they
can't be laid broadside on, and, rather like preventing rot in lily bulbs, I
positioned them as best I could so that none would be obstructed. The
only danger is if I got the whole lot upside down. I have not checked on
them yet as I dont want to disturb them further. There was a bit of
yellowing, which I thought was staining from compost, but certainly no
mould, and still feeling heavy for the size of the clump.

Regards,   Susan
Suzi
Senior Member
Joined: 06 Apr 2005
No. of posts: 860


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Posted: 04 Oct 2006
Fingers crossed
Suz
Paul Ford
Senior Member
Joined: 06 Sep 2006
No. of posts: 124


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Posted: 14 Oct 2006

Susan,

Did they hatch?

Paul


Susan H
Member
Joined: 21 Sep 2006
No. of posts: 5


View other posts by Susan H
Posted: 16 Oct 2006
I haven't dared disturb the heap further yet - When this wet spell is over
I'll have a careful peek.

Susan


Robert V
Senior Member
Joined: 06 Aug 2004
No. of posts: 717


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Posted: 28 Oct 2006

Susan,

hi, how are the eggs doing? If they are still white and not mouldy, perhaps we could think about tranfering them to an incubator and trying to hatch them that way. If you dont feel confident enough to do it, I could come down and collect them.

Cheers, let me know.

 

Robert


RobV
Susan H
Member
Joined: 21 Sep 2006
No. of posts: 5


View other posts by Susan H
Posted: 05 Nov 2006
Hello Rob, and everyone who has contributed

- the answer is yes, some hatched - at first I thought that they had just
shrivelled, and was disappointed to see a thread like dried up dead
hatchling half in and half out of an egg, on closer examination at least
four others had slits in, so had hatched and gone. There was still one
large unhatched (central) egg which still looked viable, and two smaller,
slightly deflated eggs which looked less likely. No mould, just some
yellow/brownish staining. I quickly put the remaining egg back, but after
the last few sunny days I hope it may have hatched.

Thanks one and all -

Susan
Suzi
Senior Member
Joined: 06 Apr 2005
No. of posts: 860


View other posts by Suzi
Posted: 06 Nov 2006

Brilliant news! Sometimes it's nice just to know that something good has happened in nature even if you missed seeing it yourself.

Maybe next year could you possibly dedicate a heap to be used? It would mean building it up but not disturbing it. I get them in my heaps at times but they don't breed.


Suz

- grass snake eggs

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