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Give me your thoughts/rantings/raves/arguments, etc....


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Posted by leonard on October 17, 2002 at 01:05:37:


I think this is an important topic for all herp lovers (especially snake folks like myself).

I'm just copying a post I gave on the current "locale" craze in herp circles. The craze seems to be worst among rosy boa folks. This was a response to someone asking why their hatchlings from a given pair always lost nervous control, shaked randomly, refused to eat and died after about 5-6 weeks.......

Let me give it a shot as I am a molecular biologist, who also happens to keep rosy boas. This
sounds to me like a "recessive lethal". These can be quite common with inbreeding in any
animal. It sounds to me like you are breeding two related snakes, possibly even hatchlings
from the same parents. While I have heard of hatchling matings and even parent/hatchling
matings that "worked"; this is always a bad idea, because recessives (mutations that result
in ablation or partial ablation of a gene/protein's function) always accumulate with
inbreeding. This results in a "weaker" animal, and curiously enough, almost always involves
neuronal/behavioral alterations.

The current "locale" craze is only making the inbreeding problem worse; as the number of
"founders" (original animals) from a given locale is obviously limited. So you can buy a male
and female "corn springs" rosy from two different sellers, and end up mating siblings without
knowing it.

Sure, you might get a new albino that is worth a lot of money, but you better not continue to
mate that albino (and its offspring) to other "corn springs" rosy boas (unless you collect one
yourself or verify somehow that they originated from different founders, or you will get all
kinds of recessives popping up, most of which result in disease, behavioral abnormalities, etc
etc.

albinism is also a recessive trait; and the number of them in the pet trade is increasing for
obvious reasons. Most or all of these resulted from inbreeding due to man's intervention in
choosing who breeds with who. So you can bet that any albino you buy carries other
recessives.

In the wild, snakes within a certain small geographic area or locale, will usually have some
sort of pheromone/scent recognition of their siblings/parents which turns them "off" so to
speak, but even so, their instincts make them disperse so that as long as the population
stays large enough, the chances of excess "inbreeding" is small.

The "locale purists" would do well to remember this. Don't get me wrong, as long as you
know your pair comes from different founders you are ok.

But I think the verdict is still out on whether or not locales are "pure" in any sense in the
wild. One rosy was tracked moving 20 miles in one week.



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