>> Shedding their cold blooded image, snakes have emerged as caring parents in a recent study by Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, South Africa. Scientists there find the first ever case of egg laying snakes that protect their nests and remain with their young after hatching, for a little while at least.
An intriguing and unusual finding, as Reuter's correspondant, Ed Stoddard, found out.>> This particular species is the Southern African python. And according to Professor Alexander's research, it seems that the female goes up to seven months at a time without eating. From the time they mate until the time they incubate the eggs, and then until the time that hatchlings emerge.
It seems that the females spend about two weeks with the hatchlings after they come out, during which time they remain, at night, wrapped up in her coils. This kind of protective embrace apparently allows them to remain warm at night and presumably gives them a better chance of survival.
>> The study of the nesting behavior was based on seven years of field work conducted in the Dinokeng Game Reserve near Pretoria. Scientist Alexander Graham said the pythons were tracked using these radio transmitters.>> This goes into the actual body cavity of the snake. We make an incision, insert it, and then we actually thread the antenna up under the skin of the snake so we get a really good signal out of the snake.
So this is done on an operating table. We anesthetized the snake in the same that you would be anesthetized if you were gonna be operated on.>> The pythons were then observed in their nesting chambers using infarred video cameras.