Year of the Snake

By Angelo at 3:49 pm on Saturday, August 17, 2013

It has been a while since we have done a web update but things have been busy around here. We have moved, and so did the collection during the mid-breeding season. Despite the lousy timing of the move, and fearing sub par egg production, we managed to get a few key clutches in the incubator and will be proud to show a few nice morphs to the ball python community. We have shifted gears on this years breeding plan to enhance our collection palette with the infusion of the Enchi, Bling Yellowbelly, and Vanilla genes.  These three basic morphs will enhance anyone’s collection and take it to the next level.

When I first laid eyes on the Enchi morph, I was not impressed much by its appearance.  Years later when the combos started showing up on the web, I saw that it was a must needed gene to mix into the collection.  The Enchi is a great pattern reducer and colour-boosting morph. Evident changes in vibrancy occur within six months to a year of age.   The Enchi works well with other pattern genes such as Spider and Pinstripe and even makes an incredible albino version. One unexpected outcome was the fact that it could pattern back on morphs such as Piebalds and Champagnes.

The Bling Yellowbelly is a line of Yellowbelly (aka het ivory) discovered  and labeled by NERD.  In our opinion, the Bling line is a classic representation of what a Yellowbelly specimen should look like.  Yellowbellies clean up a snake’s coloration somewhat and can put some vivid flames of blushing on the sides of the snake.  Make sure you check out NERD’S Inferno project as it is a testament to the Bling line.  Besides the fact that Yellowbellies can enhance other morphs, its other power is that it doubles your projects as a gene unlocker.  When bred to other morphs such as Specters, Gravels and Sparks, abberant striped gems such as Superstripe’s, Puma’s and Highway’s evolve.  A very versatile  and must have morph for ball python collectors these days.

Lastly the Vanilla morph is making great strides in making new combos.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but here is another gene that will clean up and hold vivid colour. We have acquired a Vanilla line that consistently produces clean vibrant hatchlings which maintains into adulthood.  The future is bright for the Vanilla gene.

These three basic morphs are becoming game changers in the ball python hobby.  The fact that these three morphs each have a Super version,  gives the genes great power in the future creation of beautiful ball pythons.

Happy breeding endeavors to everyone in 2013 and please visit often to check out this seasons developments.  Make sure to visit and ‘like’ our Facebook page.  In celebration of the Year of the Snake, we will  unveil a great new appreciation event to those people acquiring our 2013 stock. Stay Tuned!

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Clutch Variances

By Angelo at 10:28 pm on Thursday, January 12, 2012

When a ball python breeder introduces a pair of snakes for mating, numerous factors can play in the success of creating visually stunning hatch-lings.  As breeders, we acquire the finest example of particular morphs, raise them up, and attempt to breed them.  With a successful pairing, we anticipate viable eggs and set them up for their 55-60 day incubation period.  If we are fortunate on the odds, and hit multiples of certain morphs, it is exciting to see the variances of the identical morphs within the clutch.  No two sibling morphs look alike, and some seem to pop out amongst others.

During our 2011 breeding season we experienced this clutch variance phenomenon once again.  We paired a fire male and a pastel jungle female with hopes of producing hold back fireflies. We hit the odds on 5 eggs, with three fireflies.  Each firefly was unique looking, not resembling any of its siblings.  The first one was a male, who looks more like a traditional firefly, with its stunning pattern and vibrant yellow colouration.

The second was a female who had an amazing faded colour with nice blushed side saddles.

The third was a female who sides looked like they were up in flames.

Did one of the parents have some hidden enhancing gene, or was it the influence of the combination of genes of both parents?  Only future test breeding will assist us in documenting and deciphering this random outcome. Hopefully this journey will also guide us to creating some more astounding ball python morph representations.

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Thoughts On Selective Breeding

By Angelo at 7:29 pm on Monday, December 12, 2011

Have you ever gone to a reptile show and questioned why some identical morphs look better on some breeder’s tables than others?  Have you questioned why they are priced differently?  When searching for exceptional ball pythons for pets or as potential breeding stock, the motto “you get what you pay for” certainly has value.

When breeding ball pythons for the best representation of a particular morph or combo, one should first scrutinize the founding stock.  There are good and bad examples of every morph and combo, and when setting breeding goals, it makes sense that the first step is to acquire the best looking animals to try and produce the best looking hatch-lings.

No other ball python morph in this hobby has the credit for the creation of the most combos than the co-dominant pastel jungle morph commonly referred to as pastels. Lets face it, yellow ball pythons morphs are simply breathtaking and you need the infusion of the pastel jungle gene or in its super form, the super pastel, to make yellow snakes.

With the modern price of low to high grade male pastels in the $75 to $150 range, other hobbyist’s jaws drop when we mentioned we paid $1500 for an F3 male back in 2005.  What is an F3, they ask?  Well F3 in a genetic term representing third generation.  In the case of our pastel jungle male, three generations of selectively breeding the most colourful and clean specimens from pastel x pastel resulted in a snake that browned out minimally with age, and retained exceptional colour.  This is one of the founding sires in our collection who has passed on his genes to progress the quality of our collection today.  At shows people have asked us why our bumble bees express such vivid yellow colour and how clean they look with minimal speckling compared to others.  Well its all about selective breeding we say.

In the evolution of breeding animals such as horses, cattle, dogs, cats, fish and reptiles, the finest specimens are due to the passionate efforts of a breeders selective eye.  In the ball python hobby, selective breeding has its role in developing beautiful examples of living art.  Think about it next time you wander at a vendors booth at your next reptile show.

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Normal Ball Pythons — The Perfect Snake

By Angelo at 9:28 pm on Thursday, April 14, 2011

My passion with reptiles was first seeded in my youth, where my fascination with the all wonders of the natural world was infinite.  Not only did I watch any wildlife documentary that aired on television, but my wildlife library grew each year, especially with reptile books. I recall looking at pictures of ball pythons in these books, and was captured with image of this small sized chunky python, with its cool sleek shaped head, and exotic pattern. These images were not the fancy morphs and designer creations that we all know today, but were normal or wild phase ball pythons. The ball pythons portrayed were highly variable in colour and pattern as they are unique as thumb prints, as no two are alike.

The ball pythons in the first early collections were primarily all wild collected ball pythons brought overseas under CITES documents. Many of these animals did not fare well as they were loaded with internal parasites and ticks; only the strong survived.  The acclimation to captivity was often a long process and getting them to feed was often a daunting task.  Breeding Ball Pythons was not a common feat but a true accomplishment in the early days.  The first reptile herpetologists did not have the instant information power of the internet, but exchanged knowledge by communicating by telephone with other reptile hobbyists and zoo keepers or meeting at herp club meetings. As captive breeding efforts established over time, captive bred ball pythons slowly entered the pet trade offering a hardy alternative to new pet owners over their rival imported captive hatched bush babies, exported by West African countries of Ghana, Togo and Benin.

Today’s modern ball python hobby today has advanced and evolved rapidly.  It is perpetuated by the desire of creating designer morphs; this would not be possible without giving credit to the normal phase ball python.

Normal ball pythons played active roles in the ball python morph craze when the first recessive morphs like piebalds and albinos were imported by US breeders.   These homozygous (visual) morphs were bred to normal females to create normal phase looking babies that were 100% heterozygous for those traits.   When these 100% hets were raised up and bred back to the visual recessive trait animal, the odds of each egg making a  recessive visual specimen such as an albino or piebald was 50%.  And when those visual (homozygous) males were bred to multiple normal females, a diverse gene pool was created for the purpose of strengthening those lines by future out crossing.

In examples of co-dominant morphs such as pastels, they theoretically reproduce themselves 50% of the time when bred to normals. In theory out of four eggs, 2 would likely to be pastels in good odds.  This is one main route breeders take to produce morph females to keep back and grow out into future projects.  It gets even more exciting when normal females are bred to multi-gene co-dominant morphs.

In the first scenario, we will breed a bumble bee, a double co-dominant morph (pastel X spider) to a normal female.  Our theoretical odds of each egg hatching would be:

  • 25 % Normal
  • 25 % Pastel
  • 25 % Spider
  • 25 % Bumble Bee

In the second scenario, we would breed a spinner blast, a triple co-dominant morph (pastel X spider X pinstripe) to a normal female.  Our theoretical odds are mind boggling, as the odds of each egg hatching would be:

  • 12.5 % Normal
  • 12.5 % Pastel
  • 12.5 % Spider
  • 12.5 % Pinstripe
  • 12.5 % Bumble Bee
  • 12.5 % Spinner
  • 12.5 % Lemon Blast
  • 12.5 % Spinner Blast

Many first-time breeders try to get a quick jump start into breeding projects and source out proven breeder normal females. Some breeders make available some big normal girls after egg laying season, as space is often limited and new grow out females are entering into breeding range. Every year we get approached with such requests, but we sit back and smile and kindly decline. We value our mature normal girls as many of them have proudly been produced in house; we are always making big plans for them. :grin:

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Become a Student of the Serpent

By Angelo at 2:19 pm on Saturday, December 11, 2010

As each new breeding season passes, it is amazing to watch the non-stop evolution of new ball python morphs unfold. With over 50 base mutations to choose as a starter palette, we are scratching the surface of what is possible with these beautiful snakes. As new people enter this wonderful hobby each year, sooner or later they are driven to recreate one of these beautiful forms of living art.

Each year we are regularly contacted by such people who are new to ball pythons and wish to breed them. New ball python hobbyists keep telling us that breeders hold back secrets, but that is contrary to the countless informative sources available in books and on the web. The common thread among successful ball python breeders is length of time in the hobby; which equals experience.  There is no substitute for experience and this first starts by observing and keeping records of your snakes, and records of the environmental variables that you re-create for it.  This data will form a foundation for an understanding of your collections needs in all its various natural life cycles. The data that you collect yourself from the environment you raise your snakes is far more valuable than the data recorded in another snake room.

There is no absolute method of breeding ball pythons as too many variables influence the lives and reproductive behaviour of these snakes in captivity. Despite where a ball python is raised in this continent, the effects of seasonal climates and the temperature dynamics of the snake’s captive environment will influence its reproductive behaviour.

The key to repeated breeding success comes to those breeders who observe, document and understand all the factors that influenced it in the environment they raised their snakes in. In our opinion, breeding ball pythons will always be an art rather than an exact science.  We will always be students of the serpent, fueled by visions of baby ball pythons pipping each successive season.

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