07/02/11:THE STORY OF WHY "POSSIBLE HETS" WILL NEVER BE LOOKED AT THE SAME AGAIN
GRAND SLAM HOME RUN PART 1. The familiar saying that ?patience is a virtue? certainly comes to mind when working on a variety of captive breeding projects with reptiles. Almost always when talking with someone who is new to captive breeding of boas and pythons, I try and reinforce the concept that it really takes years of dedication and patience to follow a project through. I lay it all out there and am pretty well known for ?not selling? a project, but selling the degree of difficulty of a project. Usually I give the ?3 year minimum? speech. That is ?if you can?t do this for a minimum of 3 years, don?t even start? speech.
Of course ?in the old days,? before the instant gratification era of codominant and dominant projects, there wasn?t a choice of whether or not you were waiting. The projects that began ball python breeding were all recessive--albino, axanthic, piebald, genetic stripe, clown, everything. Then came the glorious ?codominant/dominant? instant gratification years! Take a male ball python, raise it to 300 g plus, breed it, and ?voila!? instant satisfaction! Breed it to a normal and you have morph babies to look at in that first clutch. Breed it to a different one and you have potentially three different snakes to look at plus a few normals! The first codominants/dominants to be bred were the pastel, spider, and pinstripe morphs. NOW we are really in the thick of it?we?ve got quintuple combinations, difficult only because of the sheer odds of making a single snake with 5 separate codominant/dominant mutations! At this point I?m not sure how many combination snakes can be made, but there are amazing odds that a single animal could be made that no one else might make for many years!
The recessive mutation combinations on the other hand are just being made. The first albino/piebald, lavender-albino/piebald, axanthic/piebald, albino/striped, ghost/striped, ghost/clowns--those are really only a few years old. I?m not sure if anyone has even bred an albino pied to an albino pied, but if so it was only in the past year or so and maybe this year will be the first year someone will do it.
What I want to start with today (which all set the groundwork for where we are going) is a project near and dear to my heart--the albino x VPI Axanthic ?snow? project! Believe it or not, this particular project has been 20 years in the making! Now I?m sure there are those out there who are thinking, ?well how could that possibly be, that?s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!? ?It?s impossible that it could take that long to do any project. Why weren?t these people putting the snakes together and breeding them!?
I bring this project to your attention today to remind us what has transpired in the past and to demonstrate the amazing amount of work that has gone into making what we do today now seem amazingly straight forward.
In 1991, VPI was able to purchase a male ball python from Brian Sharp that he had purchased from an importer in Florida. It was a unique little ball python that was essentially silver, black, and white. We call this appearance ?axanthic? meaning it appeared to be missing the yellow coloration found in a normal ball python. This little snake actually was a pretty famous snake and had his photograph in numerous places prior to us getting him. I believe his photo is shown on page 137 in the giant ?Atlas of Reptiles,? photographed at the importer by Mr. Dick Bartlett.
|The atlas of snakes of the world|
|Publisher||T.F.H. Publications, 1991|
In 1996, five years and two generations later we had our first VPI Axanthics. We sold one male to Ralph Davis and kept the rest. Meanwhile, the first ball python with the albino mutation was also a male. It was imported by Bob Clark in 1989. He was able to make hets in 1990 and he made the first albinos in 1992. Ralph went to work with his VPI axanthic; he combined it with the albino mutation to make the first ?VPI snow? a male, in 2002! So it took three pretty dedicated people a total of 13 years for that project to happen!http://www.bobclark.com/d_learn.asp?id=39&cat=learnhttp://www.ralphdavisreptiles.com/collection/pythons/ball/axanthic_ball_python.asp
When breeding two double-hets together, the odds of producing a VPI snow is 1 in 16. A VPI snow is a double-homozygous-recessive appearance and its an awesome snake to have! NOW, for the first time, we have ?triple-het? babies that have a combination of the genes for albino, VPI axanthic, and piebald. These are snakes, normal in appearance, that are heterozygous for these three recessive mutations. When these triple-het babies are bred together, the resulting clutch of eggs could produce an axanthic/piebald [AWESOME], an albino/piebald [UNBELIEVABE] and a snow/piebald [COOL BEYOND WORDS, BECAUSE WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHAT A WHITE ON WHITE SNAKE MAY LOOK LIKE]!
Breeders today can take a 13 year shortcut to any of these projects by picking up a VPI snow!