43 potential snake eggs found in school sandpit

Reports cracked through on Tuesday that wildlife volunteers were called to a New South Wales-area school in Australia to remove a dozen mystery eggs that were quickly discovered to be just one of seven buried nests.

A total of 43 eggs were unearthed from the sandpit at St. Joseph's Catholic primary school in Laurieton, about 200 miles north of Sydney, after students stumbled upon them.

But many people seem to be torn over the inhabitants of the eggs. Some experts fear they are eastern brown snakes — one of the world's deadliest varieties. But some social media commenters are questioning if the eggs belong to snakes at all, and are casting doubt over the theory that snakes could even bury their eggs.

"I believed they were brown snake eggs due to the fact that they were seen in the area and that when I shone a light through the egg I saw a small striped baby snake," Fawna wildlife rescuer Rod Miller told the Guardian Australia.

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Many on social media are citing the size, shape and location of the eggs as reasons why they can't possibly contain baby snakes. And at least one scientist agrees.

"I reckon they are indeed water dragon eggs," said University of Queensland's school of biological sciences associate professor, Bryan Fry. "(Burying the eggs in sand is) inconsistent with snakes but entirely consistent with water dragons. The large number of eggs also points towards water dragons."

A total of 43 eggs were unearthed from the sandpit at St. Joseph's Catholic primary school in Laurieton after students stumbled upon them. (FAWNA)

Fawna defended the initial theory that the eggs were snakes in a statement on the group's Facebook page.

"Some experts far more experienced than our local handler have pointed out that the eggs can't be brown snake eggs," the post reads. "When we found the eggs we carefully checked the eggs over and found that they contained what appeared to be snake hatchlings. We were told there were a couple of sightings of large brown snakes behind the area and all we could surmise is that they were brown snake eggs."

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Miller said that he inspected the eggs once more after all of the pushback the volunteers received for saying they belonged to snakes and told the Guardian that, from what he could see inside them, it "looked like a small pink worm with a couple of eyes which I can only think was a snake as it had no limbs."

Brown snakes are highly adaptable, according to the Guardian, and often live in heavily populated areas. More of them were reportedly spotted in 2017 around Sydney than in the past, possibly because of increased development projects.

When brown snake females lay their eggs, they do not protect the nests and after they hatch, the serpents are completely on their own. The eggs found at St. Joseph's school are due to hatch within a few weeks.

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