“They have no evidence snakes can be infected by this new coronavirus and serve as a host for it,” says Paulo Eduardo Brandão, a virologist at the University of São Paulo who is investigating whether coronaviruses can infect snakes at all. “There’s no consistent evidence of coronaviruses in hosts other than mammals and Aves (birds).”…

Many researchers are sceptical that the animal host or hosts of 2019-nCoV can be identified without further field and laboratory work. Many hope that genetic tests of animals or environmental sources, such as cages and containers, from the Wuhan market will turn up clues.

A mammal is the most likely candidate, says Cui Jie, a virologist at the Pasteur Institute of Shanghai who was part of a team that identified SARS-related viruses in bats from a cave in Yunnan province in southwestern China in 20172. SARS and 2019-nCoV are part of a virus subgroup known as betacoronaviruses. Fieldwork in the wake of the 2002–03 SARS outbreak has found such viruses only in mammals, Cui says. “Clearly this 2019-nCoV is a mammalian virus.”