Many of these special projects include species that are not common in the trade because they are rare in the wild, are new colour or pattern variations, or have a poor track record in captivity.
Reptiles with poor track records are usually species with specific dietary requirements, environmental or behavioural needs that are not understood and therefore not catered for.
Special projects on species that are entrenched in the trade and are well understood in terms of captive husbandry are usually focused at producing new colour and pattern variations.
Acquiring the initial genetics for such projects may be pure fluke as in our anerythristic shield nose snakes (Aspidelaps scuttatus scuttatus) which cropped up in a clutch of normal hatchlings, or finding an albino in the wild, both a very rare occurrence. Usually however it comes at considerable cost to the project owner when he purchases it from some-one else who lacks the time, knowledge or inclination to breed the animals themselves. That initial cost and risk taken, coupled with its rarity and the time taken to produce line bred offspring (often several generations/years) is what is responsible for the high prices asked for new variations. The price is also determined by whether the species lends itself to captivity (dietary requirements) or if it is attractive. Basically the prices of new variations will be determined by you the buyer, by deciding how badly you want those animals and what you are prepared to pay for them. Some buy for the aesthetic appreciation and others for investment and everyone puts their own value to this.
File Snake (Mehelya capensis)
This species has long been sought after by collectors and hobbyists because it is a rare and beautiful animal. Early efforts at keeping them successfully were problematic because of their secretive nature, and the erroneous belief that they preyed exclusively on other snakes. Their prehistoric appearance, unusual scales and triangular cross-section sets them apart from other snakes thus adding to their appeal. Although it has taken a long time to acquire breeding animals, our patience has paid off and our two long term captive females have both laid clutches with one of them producing a second clutch. Another female with us on breeding loan has also given us a clutch of eggs.
All of our animals eat both rats and mice without difficulty, and we hope that their offspring will be the same. Our next challenge is to firmly establish them in captivity by producing second generation offspring.
Garter Snake (Elapsoidea sundevalli sundevalli)
A shy and secretive snake which although seldom seen is beautiful, eats very well in captivity and captive animals are not as small as current literature suggests for their wild cousins. In fact our captives are as big and bigger than many of the milksnake species. Our captive bred animals from last season are thriving although they did start exclusively on lizards.
These snakes are venomous although I do not know any-one first hand who has been bitten and ours are extremely docile in the hand. Their feeding response is explosive so watch the unwary finger.
nosed snakes (Aspidelaps scutatus)
Although we have been breeding both the scutatus and intermedius subspecies for many generations, the anerythristic (no red) and hypererythristic (high red) animals in the scutatus subspecies are of particular interest to us. Although secretive, these animals thrive in captivity, grow extremely quickly are very robust and are adorably irascible - one of my personal favourites. It would be advisable to note that these are venomous and it would be wise to take necessary precautions, dispite the fact that they seldom actually carry through with their warning.
House snake (Lamprophis capensis)
These fantastic animals are hardy, thrive in captivity and breed readily. Even in their wild colour form they make one of the best snakes for the beginner. Brown House snake colour and pattern variations have only come to the fore recently despite the fact that albino/hypomelanistic animals have been around for years. A joint project between Byron Zimmerman and ourselve's using one of our "hypo" males and a hypothesised anerythristic individual found by Byron in 2002 resulted in double heterozygous babies in 2003. These offspring have produced eggs and the first clutch produced what appears to be ghost, suggesting that the original animal found by byron is anerythristic.The exact mutations we are working with will become clear as we breed and see results. As colour variations present themselves and more genetic lines become available to work with, the future for house snake colour morphs lies wide open.
The amount of mottling on their backs varies from region to region as well as between individuals. We have selected animals with fine speckling or motling giving the animals a granite appearance as it makes the colour variations more contrasty and therefore more attractive.
High yellow peppered Leopard geckos (eublepharus macularius)
Our original female cropped up out of Chris Parr's breeding in 2002 and was inadvertently sold without realising its eventual adult patterning. We acquired her in 2004 and that season produced, among other offspring, a single animal that looked like its mother. It was fathered by an albino and although incubated to produce a male it unfortunately also turned out to be female. Both mother and daughter have produced eggs for us this season both to an albino male so we wait in anticipation to see what is produced. Hopefully we will end up with a male which we can then put back with the two females to determine if it is a recessive gene which can then be line bred. I have to date not seen them available on the net but they may well exist. Either way, it will be nice to have a completely fresh strain, and the albinos of these should be quite spectacular.
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