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Posted by WW on March 24, 2003 at 04:43:52:
In Reply to: Lancehead question posted by shesco on March 21, 2003 at 10:30:15:
:I have never posted on this particular forum before and do not keep Hots, but I have a question related to the Golden Lancehead Viper (Bothrops insularis). I saw a special on these beautiful and rare creatures, and part of this show stated that there are three sexes to these snakes: True males, true females and the third being fully functional hermaphroditic. The question I have is this. Has anyone here experienced this three sex phenomenon with their vipers, or any other snake? I find this really fascinating.
Bothrops insularis are NOT hermaphroditic, and have only two sexes. However, a substantial proportion of females have more or less well-developed hemipenes, albeit non-functional ones. These are the so-called intersexes, which are nonetheless female in every other respect. This phenomenon (females with hemipenes) also occurs form time to time in other species of Bothrops - I have seen it in B. moojeni and B. atrox.
The high incidence of this in B. insularis may well be due to prolonged inbreeding on the island where they are found. However, bear in mind that the population is not actually that small - there are many hundreds of individuals there. Howeevr, there may of course have been population bottlenecks in the past. Whether or not the species is on its way out is an open question.