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Re: About Hybrid thread below

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Posted by oldherper on April 07, 2003 at 09:02:02:

In Reply to: Re: About Hybrid thread below posted by Tony D on March 21, 2003 at 21:47:45: the first place, a cross between L.t. sinaloae and L.t. hondurensis is not a hybrid. When you cross subspecies, you get an intergrade. This occurs naturally where the respective ranges overlap. In the natural intergradient zones, it may well be impossible to find an animal that is genetically "pure" with regards to one sub-species or the other. A sub-species is nothing more than a geographic race of the same species. Normally, the morphological differences are very minor differences in color, average scale counts (although this always overlaps), small differences in average and max size, etc. They are physiologically the same as far as skull structure, skeletal structure, etc. and share much of the same DNA charactaristics.

When you cross SPECIES, such as Lampropeltis triangulum and Lampropeltis getulus, or genera, such as Lampropeltis and Elaphe, then you are talking hybrid. This is NOT something that is known to occur naturally. To get these animals to interbreed, you have to trick them in one way or another. There is some sort of natural barrier in place in the wild populations to keep this from occurring, be it geographic separation or reproductive cycle timing. If they come from different geographic regions with no range overlap, then the cycles may well coincide and you are tricking them by the very act of putting them together. If they come from the same area and they have naturally different breeding times, then you have to fool them with photoperiod, temp variations, brumation, etc. to make them cycle simultaneously.

I have a real problem personally with producing true hybrids. I'm not saying that I am the ultimate authority and if I say it's wrong, then it is. I'm just saying that I personally have ethical problems with it. To me it's creating man-made animals for the purpose of making a profit.It's nothing new, people have been doing it for hundreds of years...take a mule for example. Cross a horse and a donkey and you have a hybrid...a mule. But, I think the difference here is that the mule is created for the purpose of doing farm work...nobody is flooding the market with "designer" mules to the exclusion of raising pure horses and donkeys. Mules, by the way, are always sterile. I dunno, it's just a personal ethics thing to me with the reptiles. Plus, I find the naturally occurring animals much more interesting.

As far as color morphs, some of these are naturally occuring morphs to one degree or another. Most would not survive in the wild because of the obvious coloration. They would be taken as babies by predators in most cases because they don't have the coloration that has allowed their natural phenotype to survive all these years. I think albinism occurs much more frequently in the wild than is reported for this reason. They just get eaten before anybody finds them most of the time.

:Okay I'll buy that on generic crosses however gene flow between adjacent subspecifics is well documented. This makes the concept of a "pure" sinoloan somewhat subjective. In the context of captive breeding if it looks like a sinoloan, acts like a sinoloan and when bred to another sinoloan makes baby sinoloans then its a sinoloan. By a widely accepted useage of the term it could even be considered a "purebred" sinoloan! IMHO what is at the heart of this is economics. Why is an albino Greeri cross worth $65 and a pure albino greeri $1000 or more? Both are aboritions. I would suggest that the difference in value is entirely on novelty. Certainly once "pure" animals are produced in numbers prices come more in line.

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