07/16/15 THIS REALLY HAPPENED PART 2...
The important thing is you get back up, dust yourself off, and say, "that was a valuable contribution to a scientific data set!"
Hmmm. I think it took me about a half hour to totally wrap my head around what I'm going to tell you, and ascribe to that noble philosophy.
This year we have been really excited about all of our projects. But there was one in particular that I was focused on. Two snakes I have really been trying to get babies from are our Toba morph (a locality animal, that is also an incomplete dominant);
Photo by Dave and Tracy Barker VPI "Toba" female Python brongersmai
and our "One Eye" morph, also an incomplete dominant, (we affectionately call him "one eye" due to him missing one eye, which appeared to have been an old but well healed injury he had prior to our receiving him).
Photo by Dave and Tracy Barker VPI "One Eye" male Python brongersmai
In the last two years we hatched two male Tobas from our female Toba bred to an albino male and two male and two female "one eye" babies from our male "One Eye" bred to an albino female (perfect in every way, we need a name for this morph!).
The female albino was raised here and prior to being introduced to any of these males was raised and housed in a cb 70 by herself. I decided to place her with the Toba male in 2013, when I ultrasounded her and saw that she had 15 mm follicles. This is the measurement I use to indicate a female is in the range when it is a good time to introduce a female to a male for breeding that has historically led to good results.
Previously I had tried for several years (unsuccessfully) to breed the male Toba to the female Toba, so in 2013, I decided to separate the pair and put them each with an albino and try and get at least some babies on the ground. The female successfully laid a clutch of 10 eggs, and we got 2 male Tobas theoretically het for albino, so I was ecstatic. The male Toba was in with the female albino I picked, but she did not produce any eggs.
So last fall at the end of 2014, I decided to throw caution to the wind and put the female albino that had been in with the male Toba the previous year in with "One Eye". Since I had gotten a good clutch sired by him bred to another female albino the previous year, unlike the male Toba this guy had a track record. My thoughts were the babies would be either Tobas that resulted from retained sperm from the Toba male or One Eye babies from this year's breeding. No downside there! Wow this was a clutch to look forward to!!
Photo by Dave and Tracy Barker VPI "One Eye" male and Red Albino female Python brongersmai
As I realized the albino female looked gravid, many conversations were had about this eagerly awaited clutch. "There's no downside here" I repeated on multiple phone exchanges. "Yes this will be interesting to see, I just don't know what will happen! They could be "Tobas" or "One Eyes!" Finally the eagerly awaited clutch was laid, 9 perfect eggs! "Whatever I get will be great" I exclaimed!! "I really could use a couple of female Tobas, since I got 2 males last time, but any more "One Eyed" babies would be great too! Maybe I will get both!! It's possible!"
Sixty long days went by. The hatching day was upon us!! All of the clutches were hatching to the day, the incubator had done its job, and on day 60 of each clutch, little noses were seen to appear. It might be the most perfectly tuned we have had the incubator, so I felt pretty confident little Toba noses or One Eye noses, or both would await me on the morning of day 60.
The egg shells, admittedly from this clutch looked a little rough. All of the other clutches were really pristine white and looked perfect until hatching. These eggs frankly looked off color and sometimes I thought mold might be growing on them, but they always smelled fine, and thats the ultimate good/bad egg test. So I felt good about them hatching despite looking by this time pretty bad.
The morning of day 60 I raced through the snake house to the incubator. I walked in, closed the door, flicked on the light. I peered into the egg container. You could have hit me over the head with a board. Yes there were heads sticking out of the eggs. But they were not Tobas, they were not One Eyes, they were not even normals! They were albinos!! Ahhhh!! How could this happen!! This snake has never been in with an albino! I repeat this female was NEVER been in with an albino. I can tell you most assuredly from 2012 in her cb70 rack until now this female has never been in with an albino, and frankly I haven't put any red albino with another red albino in so long I can't remember that far back, except the pairing of like animals from our very specific lineages our yellow t positives and cherry bomb animals.
Photo by Dave and Tracy Barker VPI 2015 Baby Red Albino Python brongersmai from female Red Albino bred by "Toba" and "One Eye" males over last 2 years.
This can not be happening!! I have bred pythons for more than 25 years and I'm telling you that this has never happened to me in my incubator! Now I am well familiar with multiple paternity of clutches (though I have never had this happen because I never run more than one male in with a female in any single season, and by rule I never switch morph males year to year, this time was a unique exception, and it was using males that have genetics of incomplete dominant traits, so I knew I would know who fathered what!). I am familiar with people's reports of breeding a female one year with male A, the female laying eggs, breeding her the next year with male B, and then when she lays eggs, the father is still male A, not the most recent male B. As crazy as that sounds, it is on the record, at least that's what I've heard, though it personally has never happened to me.
So where are we here? How could a female albino who has been in with two different males with two different incomplete dominant traits and never been in with a male albino, produce all albino babies?!