Watch: Female serpents sacrifice it all for sea turtle eggs

A striped kukri snake (Oligodon octolineatus). A related species, the Formosa kukri snake, aggressively defends the sea turtle eggs they feed on even though the aggression comes at a cost. ©Bernard DUPONT

Taiwanese snakes will risk a lot for fresh turtle eggs. Female Formosa kukri snakes (Oligodon formosanus) feed almost entirely on reptile eggs, but they have a particular taste for sea turtle eggs. Female kukri snakes will protect clutches of sea turtle eggs with extreme aggression, even biting off the tails of other snakes sticking out of the ground. Researchers in a study published recently in Science Advances found that when storms destroyed a beach that sea turtles used for egg laying in Taiwan, the lifespan of the females increased, even though the overall population of kukri snakes in the area dropped. The researchers concluded that the females traded off personal lifespan for the benefits gained in eating a lot of eggs, possibly since it allowed them to produce more of their own eggs.

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