Snakes aren't exactly known for their parenting skills. Many species opt to simply leave their newborns to fend for themselves after hatching. But a recent video showing a baby rattlesnake seemingly slithering after its mom has sparked some questions around how rattlesnakes rear their young.


The mini-rattler was filmed by a customer of Californian snake-catchers, So-Cal Rattlesnake Removal, who shared the unusual footage on their Facebook page with the caption, "Most likely the parent snake being followed by its young! Incredible."

So-Cal Rattlesnake Removal are a passionate team of snake catchers who are dedicated to safely removing rattlesnakes from homes and businesses and relocating them back into the wild. With years of  experience working with rattlesnakes, this is the first time the team have observed parenting behaviour. "That is so awesome and heartwarming to see," one Facebook user commented on the video post.

Reptiles aren't renowned for their parenting, but studies show that there are some species that are a little more attentive when it comes to raising their young. Vipers, including rattlesnakes, have been recorded displaying maternal behaviour, sometimes protecting their young until the first shed. Andrew Durso, assistant professor of Wildlife Biology at Florida Gulf Coast University, observed: "It appears that the completion of the first shed cycle is the cue for them to separate, an event which is mediated by the same hormone in snakes as it is in birds and mammals."

Interestingly, rattlesnakes and other pit viper species are the only snakes known to provide care for live young after they have hatched. In the case of rattlesnakes, this may have something to do with them being ovoviviparous, which means eggs are hatched within their bodies before the young emerge as wriggling, writhing baby snakes. 

Top header image: MTSOfan/Flickr