When a female snake is ready to mate, she begins to release a special scent pheromones from skin glands on her back. As she goes about her daily routine, she leaves an odor trail as she pushes off resistance points on the ground See Getting Around. If a sexually mature male catches her scent, he will follow her trail until he finds her. The male snake begins to court the female by bumping his chin on the back of her head and crawling over her. When she is willing, she raises her tail. At that point, he wraps his tail around hers so the bottoms of their tails meet at the cloaca -- the exit point for waste and reproductive fluid.
Map: Charles Darwin University A snake curator studying in Darwin may have solved a puzzle that has confused experts for years. Just how can some female snakes store sperm after mating, sometimes for months, before using it to fertilise their eggs? The rare phenomenon has been recorded in snakes in different parts of the world. Now Luke Allen, who curates a venom laboratory in South Australia, has used his captive snakes to find out how. Storing sperm for six months Studying the coastal taipan, Australia's longest venomous snake and one of the deadliest snakes in the world, he learned that the snakes can store sperm for up to six months after mating. To do so he believes they use special cells in their bodies that secrete sugars and proteins to keep the sperm alive.
Wouldn't one penis do just as well, since male snakes only use one at a time anyway? Let's take a quick look at the timeline of snake reproduction. Boy snake meets girl snake. They spend some time together, intertwine their tails, and the male inserts one hemipenis so that his sperm find their way safely from cloaca to cloaca.
There are many ways that females can alter offspring genetics to increase their success and diversity. An example of how this can be accomplished is in female Scathophaga that preferentially fertilize eggs to survive in different environments. Since many environments require different traits for success, females are somehow able to match sperm acquired from multiple mates that have the best genes for whichever environment in which they will develop. Females are acutely aware to their environment and manipulate the genetic diversity of their offspring in appropriate ways to ensure their success. Another way sperm-storing females can alter the diversity of their offspring is controlling the relatedness to the males that provide them with sperm.