From Ronaldo to mum-aldo: The unexpected miracle

From Ronaldo to mum-aldo: The unexpected miracle.

From Ronaldo to mum-aldo: The unexpected miracle. Image: City of Portsmouth College.

Meet Ronaldo, the 6ft (1.8m) Brazilian rainbow boa who was identified as male by a vet nine years ago.

Living a solitary life without contact with other snakes for the past two years at City of Portsmouth College in the UK, Ronaldo surprised everyone recently.

Astonishing Discovery

During a routine vivarium check, a student made an astonishing discovery, Ronaldo had given birth to 14 baby snakes.

“We couldn’t believe our eyes,” exclaimed animal care technician Amanda McLeod.

Initially sceptical, they quickly realised the truth of the situation.

Rare Form of Reproduction

Peter Quinlan, a reptile specialist at the college, attributed this unexpected event to parthenogenesis, a rare form of asexual reproduction where embryos develop without fertilisation.

While known in plants and some animals, such occurrences in snakes, especially Brazilian rainbow boas, are exceptionally rare.

Ronaldo’s pregnancy marks only the third documented case in captivity for this species globally.

Very Rare

Reflecting on the surprise, Quinlan, with over 50 years of snake breeding experience, admitted, “I’ve never known this happen before.”

He noted Ronaldo’s slightly enlarged appearance prior to the birth, reminiscent of having consumed a large meal, but the thought of pregnancy never crossed their minds.

Now faced with the task of determining the sex of the baby snakes, Quinlan is busy setting up individual enclosures and seeking suitable homes for each offspring.

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Written by

Anna Ellis

Originally from Derbyshire, UK, Anna has lived in the middle of nowhere on the Costa Blanca for 20 years.