06/16/12 A STORY ABOUT A BOA PART 4 "VPI MIDNIGHT GIN" A NEW BOA MORPH AS A BABY
Sometimes a photo says it all. The photos of "Midnight Gin" as a baby said enough that we knew we had to pursue this project. No photos we have ever received have been as convincing. Even the VPI Caramel Albino project in retrospect, was a much bigger question as to whether it would be a morph we could reproduce vs. it being a one off anomaly. If I have to guess on a look (phenotype) having a unique genotype, an obvious pattern variation vs. color variation would hold more weight, unless it was a classic albino (tneg) snake.The first thing that is suspect in any photo of a new morph is that its origin is "born in captivity from "normal" parents". The question has nothing to do about whether it was actually born here, that is documented and not the issue. The question is the odds of coming up with a new morph from a captive breeding of "normal i.e. wild type pattern" adults is incredibly rare. This means that almost all non designer mutations originate in the wild and are not miraculously hatched or born in captivity. A quick review of known morphs will document that fact. So in essence, hatching or having a new morph born in captivity from normal parents is like winning the lottery. It has happened obviously. We had it happen when we hatched patternless ball pythons from two randomly selected, totally unrelated normal Ball pythons that we raised from babies. This was the case with the Caramel Albino Boas which were born in a pet shop from a pair of normal long term captive Colombian Boas. The first albino Green Tree python actually descended from a pair of "normal" babies that we hatched, indicating that the babies we hatched were 100% het for albino, but that is yet another story for our book!
There are three questions at this juncture: 1) Is this is a miraculous birth of a new codominant or dominant morph and the parents and siblings and everything descended from them are absolutely normal and will be producing only normal babies as descendents, leaving Midnight Gin to be the snake that must be the beginning of a lineage of snakes that look like her? 2) Is this a miraculous birth of a homozygous morph and the parents were 100% het and the siblings of Midnight Gin are 66% heterozygous for the morph? 3) Is this miraculous birth a one shot deal and Midnight Gin is an awesome snake but that's as far as she goes?
Now here is where things get a little complicated from the actual information we know. 1) Litter one: A large female normal Boa delivered babies and one was the newly named "Midnight Gin." 2) When we bred the mom of Midnight Gin to the theoretical dad of Midnight Gin we had a litter of 26 babies (20 that were perfect and 6 that dns) and no animals looked like her. In our opinion, we absolutely feel that this was a big enough sample size that we should have at least seen one baby that looked like her.
I am going to go out on a limb and give my best guess as to what I think is the most parsimonious explanation for these results.
1) "VPI Midnight Gin" is a recessive homozygous animal
2) The mom is 100% het
3) The dad is not the original dad that sired the litter that "VPI Midnight Gin" was born in.
4) The siblings of "VPI Midnight Gin" are 66% hets
5) The 20 new babies we had (10.10) are 50% het
6) The answer to all of this will become obvious as soon as we are able to breed "VPI Midnight Gin"
We of course would love to have feedback from anyone including your own predictions!
photos by Jeff Hering of "VPI Midnight Gin" as a baby!
This is absolutely a unique looking snake and this is why we believe that it is a new morph. The interesting question? Will a combination of other morphs with this new one halt the ontogenetic color and pattern change? Will the baby pattern remain, but with new colors? Though the adult "VPI Midnight Gin" is remindful of the "IMG" Boa, it is clear from the snake's pattern as a baby they are not the same. The ongoing work on the "IMG" project should provide some answers as to how other mutations affect the normal baby pattern and its ontogenetic change as an adult into a patternless black snake.