Expert bites curiosity on deadly snakes

Expert bites curiosity on deadly snakes

The puzzling reproductive patterns of Australia’s longest venomous snake have been uncovered by a Charles Darwin University student.

This is the first time the female Coastal Taipan’s physiological values, in its ability to store and maintain sperm for extended periods, have been intimately researched.

The study showed the female snake can lay three clutches of eggs, and can lay its third clutch of eggs up to six months after mating.

Snake expert and CDU Bachelor of Environmental Science student, Luke Allen said the female was able to store sperm in pocket-like structures in the back end of its oviduct after mating.

“I was curious to find out how and why some species of snakes seem to have this attribute, and others don’t,” Mr Allen said.

“It seems that these cells that line the inside of the oviduct must be secretary cells, which produce to maintain and nourish the sperm in a healthy state for further use.”

The Coastal Taipan is native to sub-tropical to tropical Australia and southern Papuan New Guinea.

Mr Allen said further research could enhance captive breeding management strategies of the species, along with further management of wild populations. 

“In the case of the Coastal Taipan, its status is said to be stable in the wild,” Mr Allen said.

“But, using this as a model and applying this research to other species may assist the management strategies of species of high conservation status.”

Mr Allen conducted a close study of the captive breeding program of the Coastal Taipan colony at Venom Supplies venom laboratory in South Australia, as curator of the institution.

“The ability to study the values of these venomous snakes in a controlled environment, such as our laboratory, is a major advantage,” he said.

“Trying to undertake this type of study in the wild would simply be impossible.”

Mr Allen plans to conduct further study on the project, “Research into the Reproductive Biology of the Coastal Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus)” and to research other species.

RIEL Headlines

  • Thu, 14/11/2013

    A book detailing the devastating impact of one of Australia’s most successful invasive species and the lessons that can be learned from the “unintended consequences” of species’ introduction will be launched this week (Friday, 15 November).

  • Fri, 01/11/2013

    The great grandson of naturalist Charles Darwin will introduce “Charles Darwin, Evolution and Tropical Australia”, the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) created by Charles Darwin University and commencing on November 11.

  • Tue, 08/10/2013

    Representatives from across the Arafura and Timor seas have come together this week to share ideas about sustainable activities for the conservation and management of marine and coastal resources.

  • Thu, 12/09/2013

    A conservation biologist who has spent most of the past 35 years in tropical Australia will suggest that improvements in the listing processes and modifications to legislation could improve the targeting of threatened species investment.

  • Fri, 06/09/2013

    A research project investigating how fire affects the food source of one of northern Australia’s most iconic bird species could provide clues to its future conservation.

  • Cassie Scoble
    Fri, 16/08/2013

    New research funded through the Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) will determine the feasibility of carbon farming through reforestation.

  • Thu, 15/08/2013

    As the debate continues to rage about prescribed burning, leading bushfire researchers from Charles Darwin University and around the world have contributed their perspectives in a series of papers published today.

  • Sat, 03/08/2013

    DEEP in the tropical savanna of Australia's far north lies an Aboriginal sacred place that could hold the clues to a mystery scientists have puzzled over for more than a century.

  • Thu, 01/08/2013

    A Charles Darwin University researcher has peered into the murky depths of the behaviour of Northern Australia’s most voracious predator finding their innate survival instinct begins from day one.

  • Tue, 02/07/2013

    New research has revealed that cane toads have wiped out some populations of dwarf crocodiles in northern Australia.
     

Pages

Jump to NRBL themeJump to CMEM themeJump to FEM themeJump to SMWC themeJump to TRF themeJump to RIEL home

Innovative Research University

© 2011-2013 Charles Darwin University
Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods
Privacy Policy
CRICOS Provider No. 00300K | RTO Provider No. 0373

Phone (+61) 8 8946 6413
Email riel@cdu.edu.au