Baby (snake) boom at SCI!

Proud mama snake with her 70 babies!

Proud mama snake with her 70 babies!

SCI was buzzing yesterday with news that our red-sided garter snake gave birth to not 1, not 10... but 70 BABIES!

Our Facebook and Twitter pages were bursting with your comments about the picture we posted -- ranging from meteorologist Megan Salois’s post on Twitter: “I just learned a garter snake here at @SCIOWA gave birth to 67 snakes this AM! Sounds cool, huh?” to Facebook comments: “I don't mind snakes, but this gives me the heebee-jeebees!! Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom!”

A lot of you had questions and were interested in learning more about this unusual birth. We passed along your questions to SCI’s Animal Specialist, Mark, who gave us these fun facts about the red-sided garter:

Scientific name: Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis

"Do they always have that many??" The average number of babies that a red-sided garter snake will have varies depending on the size of the snake. On average, they will have approximately 20-30. The most red-sided garter snakes born at one time was 89 (was not in the state of Iowa).

"As in live birth? Not eggs?" Yes! This was a live birth - it took a couple of hours.

"What is SCI going to do with 70 baby snakes?" We will wait for a rainier weather pattern before we release the snakes. The plan is to release them in a suitable habitat, probably near a pond. The red-sided garter snake is one of the only unprotected snakes in the state of Iowa.

"Now let's see how many she eats." Red-sided garters do not eat their young.

Learn more about red-sided garter snakes online or by visiting our What On Earth? experience platform!

Category: General SCI