An animal rescue crew was called to remove 43 reptile eggs from a sandbox at an elementary school in New South Wales, Australia, news outlets reported on Tuesday. Volunteers were not able to immediately identify the reptile species that the eggs belonged to, but an initial examination suggested the eggs may be from an eastern brown snake, the second most venomous land snake in the world.
When volunteers from FAWNA, NSW Inc, a regional animal aid group, were called to remove unidentified eggs from a school playground, they initially thought they were dealing with a handful of eggs. But upon arrival, the crew uncovered several dozen eggs belonging to a total of seven nests buried in the children’s play area, The BBC reported.
The eggs were immediately removed and placed at a new nesting site far away from humans, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Identifying the eggs before they hatched proved challenging. At first, the animal rescue crew thought the eggs belonged to a brown snake.
"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," said Rod Miller, one of the volunteers who responded to the call, The Guardian reported.
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Brown snakes, or Pseudonaja, are an extremely poisonous genus of snake that lives in Australia, LiveScience reported. This group of snakes includes the Eastern brown snake, the most venomous snake in Australia and among the most venomous land snakes in the world. With just a small amount of venom injected per bite, this reptile is responsible for the most snakebite-related deaths in Australia.
However, the suggestion that the eggs belonged to a brown snake has been met with criticism on the group’s Facebook page. FAWNA NSW, Inc. now says the eggs may belong to a far less deadly reptile species called water dragons, and acknowledged that ultimately they are unsure what species the eggs belong to.
Volunteers checked on the eggs after relocating them, but by this point all but one had hatched and crawled away. In a Facebook post, the animal rescue group explained that when one of the volunteers shone a light through the final egg they could make out a “small pink worm-like embryo with two eyes and no sign of legs.” However, the group added that they have neither the time nor resources to continue to follow up on the lone egg’s progress. For now, the origin of the eggs remains a mystery.