By the end of this spring we finished the rebuilding of outdoor terraria in the Hungarian Meadow Viper Conservation Center, and thanks to the doubled “capacity”, we were able to arrange even more breeding pairs. After the observed matings in mid-April, with an average gestation period of 113 days, 40 females gave birth to a total of 542 offspring (257 males and 285 females) in the first three weeks of August, summing a total of 4,368 snakes born at the Center since the 2004 start of the program.
The newborn snakes were photographed for identification, and their body weight and body length were entered into the database. The average weight of the newborn vipers was 2.5 g, with an average body length of 14.3 cm.
The average litter size was 14 vipers, which significantly exceeded the average reproduction of 10 offspring in previous years. Three females gave birth to 19 offspring, which is particularly interesting that all three were breeding for the first time. The total of 14 such young females gave birth to an average of 15 vipers, even exceeding the annual average. This result is a good confirmation that the renovation of the terrariums and the creation of new terrariums had positive effects, as well as the abundant supply of food, really resulting the targeted improvement of breeding conditions.
Additionally vipers kept at Zoo Szeged also gave birth to one offspring. As those three females did not meet a male for 3 years, the only explanations can be extreme long sperm storage or parthenogenesis. We plan to use genetic techniques to answer that question. Further details can be read on the website of Zoo Szeged.