fbpx

Foreign python needed for Indian breeding programme

CHENNAI:A relatively successful breeding programme at Guindy Snake Park here is the reason why many Reticulated Pythons in captivity across the country are dying before they become adults.In the last week over a dozen pythons hatched from a clutch of 40 eggs at Guindy Snake Park. Early in December 2017, the adult reticulated pythons displayed breeding behaviour, explained SR Ganesh, the herpetologist taking care of the young snakes. “Males and females were then introduced in one and the same enclosure to facilitate breeding.

Instances of intromission were noticed by the park officials in January. By late February, the female was visibly egg-bound and the male was separated from the enclosure. During March, the heavily gravid female was often seen lying upside down with the underside facing upwards – an indication that it is about to lay eggs. By April third week, the female laid around 40 eggs. Since human influence should be kept at the barest minimum, eggs were not manually counted precisely,” he said.

However, other scientists at the park fear that none of them may make it into adulthood. When the same female python laid 30 eggs in 2014, only one individual has survived so far.Reticulated pythons are the world’s longest snakes and longest reptiles and among the three heaviest snakes. Like all pythons, they are nonvenomous constrictors and are dangerous to humans. While their population is distributed all across south-east Asia, their presence in India is restricted to Nicobar Islands.

Lack of conditions similar to natural habitats has made it very difficult to breed them in captivity. While zoos across the country have failed in successfully breeding these giant snakes in captivity, Guindy park, however, has simulated comfortable conditions over the years. “Captive Reticulated Pythons in most zoos across India are progenies of the snakes from here,” a press release said.

While this species is not found easily in nature in India, the only animals in captive are mostly related to each other. Therefore, breeding between these snakes is resulting in weak offsprings, that are victims of a  phenomenon called inbreeding depression. Inbreeding depression is the reduced biological fitness in a given population as a result of breeding related individuals over generations.

“Therefore, breeding success and hatchling fitness are quite low due to the genetic bottleneck phenomenon. Introduction of fresh genetic sources, from elsewhere in other countries or populations in the captive breeding programme are essential to solve this situation,” said Ganesh adding that the government should engage in an animal exchange programme with zoos in other parts of South East Asia.

Inbreeding depression
While this species is not found easily in nature in India, the only animals in captive are mostly related to each other. Therefore, breeding between these snakes is resulting in weak offsprings, that are victims of a  phenomenon called inbreeding depression. Inbreeding depression is the reduced biological fitness in a given population as a result of breeding related individuals over generations.

Date: 19-July-2018
Source: http://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2018/jul/19/foreign-python-needed-for-indian-breeding-programme-1845484.html