Why do female ball pythons (Python regius) coil so tightly around their eggs?

Fabien Aubret, Xavier Bonnet*, Richard Shine, Stéphanie Maumelat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Question: What benefits does brooding confer to offspring viability that outweigh its costs to the nest-attending female? 

Organisms: Thirty captive Python regius females and their clutches. 

Site: Vicinity of Lomé, Togo. 

Background: It has previously been shown that brooding enhances ball python hatching success by reducing desiccation of eggs. 

Methods: We captured wild, gravid females just before the time of egg-laying. Then we varied maternal attendance, allowing it to last 0, 15 or 60 days. 

Conclusions: Brooding weakly influenced incubation temperature but markedly decreased egg mass loss owing to water loss and associated yolk coagulation. Brooded eggs produced larger, more active, faster swimming and more rapidly developing neonates than did non-brooded eggs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-758
Number of pages16
JournalEvolutionary Ecology Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Brooding
  • Incubation
  • Parental care
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Python regius


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