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Posted by chrish on February 28, 2003 at 22:24:46:
In Reply to: My answer and clarification... posted by deathstalker on February 28, 2003 at 21:43:31:
"To start, 90+ percent of snake genera and species are in fact sexually mature by age , not necessarily size........So, yes, female (western) hognose snakes should be of optimum weight before breeding, BUT...but what I am trying to say is, is that hognose snakes' reproductive systems are sexually mature by two (2) years of age."
I guess I am wondering what your basis for making this statement is. Is there real evidence to support this? Just because all two year old are sexually mature doesn't mean that it is the age that determines the onset of sexual maturity.
I agree that most two year olds are sexually mature (and there is field data to support that), but I feel it is an issue of the size of the animal at two years of age, not the age itself.
"I mean, c'mon...a five-year-old or even a ten-year-old female hognose snake can't breed either if she's not of optimum weight, so of course weight matters--you are 100% correct in this (sub)area."
Here you are discussing a separate issue. An underweight 10 year old female may not have the body condition necessary to reproduce, but she is still sexually mature. (An amenorrheaic twenty five year old woman is sexually mature, but she can't reproduce. An eight year old girl is unlikely to be sexually mature, regardless of how big she is or her physical condition. Neither girl can reproduce, but only in the second case does it have anything to do with maturity.)
"As I stated above in a different way, yes, a female hognose snake is ready to breed by two (2) years of age in reproductive system-development terms no matter what, however, ...., an undersized female would not be ready to breed.."
I guess our differences lie in why the undersized two year old can't breed. You suggest it is simply a matter of condition. I believe the onset of sexual maturity itself would be delayed by the lack of condition. I haven't seen any research on this other than somewhat anectdotal information (like Platt, 1969) and inferences made from captive populations. Frankly, I am not sure how you would differentiate those two snakes (the poorly conditioned sexually mature 2 year old from the non-sexually mature 2 year old). I guess with some sort of endocrine assay you might be able to pinpoint the beginnings of sexual maturation.
I appreciate you taking the time to answer. I guess we will have to agree to disagree in the absence of some scientific evidence one way or another.