Shake Rattle 'N' Grow: Melbourne Zoo Celebrates Snake Babies

17 March 2022

They may not be everyone's idea of a cute youngster, but Melbourne Zoo's reptile keepers are feeling the baby love for a slithering selection of freshly hatched snakes.

The reptile arrivals include six Eastern Diamond Rattlesnakes and one Reticulated Python.

The young Reticulated Python is the first of its species ever bred at Melbourne Zoo, and the first born in Australia in
about 10 years. Zoo visitors can see its parents in a multi-species exhibit specially built to house the world's longest
snake species, which is native to south-east Asia.

And Melbourne Zoo is part of a regional program for the North American rattlesnakes, the largest venomous snake in
the United States.

Melbourne Zoo Reptile Keeper Rory Keenan says the young rattlesnakes are being cared for by keepers at the back of
the Zoo's iconic Reptile House. It will be several years before the snakes are large enough to be housed with the
adults.

"These little snakes are miniature versions of their parents," Mr Keenan said. “They are fully loaded with hinged fangs
and toxic venom, so the same safety and care that goes into working with any of our venomous snakes goes into
working with these young snakes as well.

"When they are born, these little neonates have really small rattles, they don’t have much substance or noise to
them, but as they grow and start shedding their skin they will start adding to it and it will become a bit more of a
viable defence mechanism.

"Once these juveniles are well established and have put on a bit of size, we will rotate them on display in the
Melbourne Zoo Reptile House with some of the older adults."