Questions raised over ‘snake’ eggs after all but three hatch

These eggs, which an expert believes had come from a snake, were removed by FAWNA from a local Laurieton school sandpit. Photo: FAWNAA Facebook post by the wildlife rescue organisation that was called to assist in the discovery of a number of eggs at a Mid-North Coast school has cast doubt on what species the eggs may have been.

The post by Fawna Wildlife Rescue said that “after much discussion” among wildlife volunteers, the eggs “may or may not have been a snake or a lizard”.

Wildlife volunteers were called to the school at Laurieton on December 20 where they removed 12 eggs from the school’s sandpit.

Later that same afternoon, the students discovered more eggs buried in the sand.

The pit was closed for safety reasons so that volunteers could thoroughly search the area and remove the eggs.

Volunteers identified the eggs as coming from a brown snake but Fawna later clarified that they could have been a lizard or python.

The eggs were relocated where all but three hatched and the animals dispersed, Fawna NSW said on Tuesday.

“We believe that we did the right thing by moving the eggs to a suitable location in the appropriate manner where they could hatch and disperse,” Fawna NSW President Meredith Ryan said.

“We took what we believed to be believed to be expert advice.”

Ms Ryan said that, as wildlife rehabilitators, volunteers had a dual responsibility of ensuring the safety of humans and fauna in the environment.

“When there is the potential for threat to humans, we take appropriate action to ensure wildlife welfare at all times,” Ms Ryan said.

Snake expert Bryan Fry of the University of Queensland’s school of biological sciences confirmed with The Guardian that the eggs had come from a snake, after looking at the photos, but said which species would not be known until the eggs hatch.

Ms Ryan said of the eggs that did not hatch, one contained an underdeveloped fetus, which she described as looking like a pink worm with two eyes. A Facebook post by Fawna NSW described the foetus as also having no legs.

Yvette Attleir, a Fawna Wildlife Rescue volunteer, said after three days of digging they discovered seven nests and 43 eggs.

She said it was estimated the eggs would have hatched within two weeks of the discovery.

Ms Attleir said the sand pit was the perfect place for the snakes to nest as the sand had recently just been laid.

“The sand was still fresh and loose and would have provided the perfect place for snakes to regulate the eggs due to the temperature,” she said.

The school’s sand pit backs on to a reserve and the Fawna volunteers believed at the time that the eggs could have been laid by up to two animals.

All the eggs were carefully removed by volunteers.

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