Back in November 2008 I was helping my friend Ian from Outback Reptiles at his table at the NARBC reptile trade show. Most of us know he produced a piebald super black pastel in 2008 and there was a lot of commotion on the web about whether or not it really existed. The snake was at the show. There are a few pictures out there but I was rummaging through some old files on my PC and realized I had made some video of the panda pied while at the show.
I posted the video to YouTube but the quality is kinda lame.
Better quality video: If you want better quality here is a larger version of the video of the Panda Pied Ball Python. Here it is:
Update: October 21, 2009
I have received quite a few questions about how to produce this so here is a little information that should help you out. In the example below I assume that you are breeding two black pastels that are both 100% het for pied together. The results are crazy and you can get an idea of just how hard it is to make a panda pied. Over time, as more people get an actual panda pied it will get easier but for now we’re still playing the het game. Enjoy:
B – Black Pastel
N – Normal
p – Piebals
A few nights ago I happened to catch Monster Quest on the History Channel. The episode was all about ‘giant killer snakes’ and whether or not they exist. The issue I have with the episode is the way in which it brought up the issue of large constrictors thriving in the Florida Everglades. They showed photographic evidence of their existence and interviewed several animal capture professionals who work in the area. I am not going to doubt that there is a population of reptiles living in the Everglades that is not supposed to be there. Hurricane Andrew in in 1992 could easily be blamed for the accidental release of many pet animals into the wild. Once in such as hospitable environment for reptiles it is easy to believe that they are thriving. What really bugs me is that the History channel showed an ominous animation depicting the United States being consumed in the spread of these animals throughout the entire country. Their animation had only one purpose: to elicit a reaction of fear from the uneducated viewer. Many people are not fans of snakes (an understatement). To prey on their fear and suggest to them that large constrictors can soon be living in their neighborhood, eating their cats and attacking their children is an incredibly irresponsible use of the credibility of the History channel. It is also the kind of fear mongering that is going to help get the proposed federal ban on reptiles made into law. Anybody who knows even a little bit about reptile physiology knows that such a spread is impossible.
The reptile hobbyist and reptile breeder is in danger of legally losing their right to own and breed many types of reptiles. Check out my previous post discussing the legislation to ban the ownership of reptiles. Don’t be fooled by what you read in the proposed bill. The legislation is not only about banning the import of certain species. It is about banning the ownership, breeding and sale of these species as well. It is a very real and very serious threat to reptile business. The History Channel and its show Monster Quest has helped to propagate fear among the uneducated and aided in getting this ridiculous legislation turned into law.
I made a quick trip through my building with a camera earlier this season. Here are a few photos of who happened to be locked up at the time. It’s kind of like looking at a precursor to Christmas (Christmas being the day eggs hatch, of course). I continue to love the whole cycle. It’s filled with milestone all along the way. You’ve got breeding followed by ovulation followed by pre-lay shed followed by egg laying followed by hatching. “It’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year through.”
Click on each thumbnail for a full-size view.[nggallery id=6]
Albino X Albino Het
Albino X Spider Het Albino
Super Pastel X Black Pastel
Bumble Bee Het Ghost X Orange Ghost
Clown X Pastel Het Clown
Ivory X Yellow Belly
Pastel Lesser X Black Pastel
Pinstripe X Pastel
Pinstripe X Spider
I live in Chesapeake, Virginia. Technically, I live in a swamp. The Great Dismal Swamp to be exact. Life is abundant here. On most summer days I am either cursing the flies or the mosquitos (the mosquitos are happy to kill you). How I came to live here is one of the great mysteries of my life. It just kinda’ happened …eleven years ago.
I regularly tell my wife I want to move but today, while going through some old pictures I got a little does of reality. There is some really cool stuff living around here. We have a great chain kingsnake population, copperheads are abundant (and beautiful) and Chesapeake is the northermost range of the canebrake rattlesnake. We don’t have green or brown anoles here but if I drive 20-30 minutes south you can find them without too much problem. That has always been odd to me. It doesn’t seem to be too different down there but something sure is keeping them away.
Anyway, here are a few pics taken of animals in my back yard (and it’s not a terribly big yard). And these are just the pics I took when I happened to have a camera with me. I’ve seen a lot more cool stuff over the years on my front deck and in my back yard.
Click each image for a larger view.[singlepic id=88 w=150 float=left]
The dreaded Black Widow Spider. I’m not a spider guy but these things are beautiful. I leave them alone and they leave me alone. That’s our arrangement. This one made its way into my garage. I safely relocated her to a wood pile on the side of my house. I have seen several of these around (and under) my house over the years. Chesapeake has tons of spiders. They are absolutely everywhere. The good news is that you don’t see many other types of bugs. The spiders crush em’.[singlepic id=89 w=150 float=left]
I see a few snakes every year. This is a garter snake that was by my AC unit out back. I have also seen black rat snakes and a copperhead around the house. I have never seen a kingsnake or a rattlesnake anywhere in my neighborhood. I would love to find a canebrake rattlesnake. They are crazy protected in Virginia, though. I’m not in to hot stuff anyway.[singlepic id=90 w=150 float=left]
This is a Southern Toad (to the best of my taxonomic skills, at least). He lives under my house and has been doing so for more than a year. I’m always careful when I’m around his normal part of the yard. My wife and I are quite fond of him and my Weimaraner is always good to leave it alone.[singlepic id=91 w=150 float=left]
We have a lot of Green Tree Frogs that live under the siding around our house. This one is a little baby that was on my back porch. My wife is crazy about these guys. To her they are all named ‘George’ and by my count we have more Georges than England.
[singlepic id=93 w=150 float=left] [singlepic id=92 w=150 float=left]
There is a pond just behind my house and it has a lot of turtles. Each year we find quite a few turtles in the yard. We have seen Eastern Box Turtles as well as a lot of Yellow Bellied Sliders like you see in the picture. What’s so cool is that they come into our yard and lay their eggs. The picture of the mud hole is actually the result of a female turtle digging to lay her eggs. We get several of these each year. It’s too cool. I haven’t been able to witness any hatchings yet but I keep hoping…[singlepic id=94 w=150 float=left]
As for the flies I complain about. At the right time of year they are pretty abundant, too. Too abundant for me. Here is a fly trap (two of em’) that I put out in my back yard last year. I took the picture about 36 hours after putting it out. Foul. Yeah, the bag on the left is pretty much full of flies.
This is a picture I took about a year ago. I was temporarily keeping some mice in the garage at my house and discovered that a few of them got out. Needless to say my wife was going to be pissed if she found out. I set out about 10 traps, desperate to catch everybody before I got busted. This pic is the result of one of those traps. A sweet little two-fer!
Whenever I look at this picture it makes me smile. Not so much because I’m sadistic and love images of murdered animals but because when I found it I couldn’t help but think of the dialogue that would have taken place between the two. For me it went something like this:
LeftMouse: Peanut Butter! I love peanut butter. Gotta’ be careful, though. This thing is on a hair trigger.
<two deliciousness filled minutes later>
RightMouse: Oooohhh!!! Look!!! Peanut Butter!!!
LeftMouse: Dude, you’ve got to be careful! I’m cool to share with you but don’t get crazy. If we push too hard on this it’ll be a bad day for us.
RightMouse: Mmmmmmmm ….peanut butter.
<2 seconds later>
LeftMouse: (thinking it, becase his wind pipe is now crushed and sealed by a metal bar and some wood): @#$%. You stupid @#$%*……………..
RightMosue: Sorry Du-……….
The reptiles in your collection may very well be the last you ever own. The state of Florida is once again endeavoring to eliminate the reptile business. But not just for Florida, for the entire United States. On January 26th, 2009 a group of representatives from Florida introduced a bill into the U.S. House of Representatives that may very well end the open trade of many popular reptile species in the United States. Florida has a nonnative species problem. Of this there is no doubt. But rather than dealing with their problems at home they are taking it to the federal level (to get federal funds no doubt) and bringing us all down with them. This impacts you if any of the following are true:
- You want to be able to buy a reptile of a certain species at any point in the future.
- You want to be able to sell or trade a reptile of a certain species at any point in the future.
- You want to be able to breed a reptile of a certain species at any point in the future.
- You want to be able to transport a reptile across any state line at any point in the future.
As a community the reptile industry is terribly unorganized. We have no central body to represent us on a large scale and as a community we are now poised to have our hobby, our pastime, our businesses and, for many, our livelihood, eliminated by federal law. I’m not trying to be dramatic. This is real. If, as a group of citizens who share a common interest, we don’t get motivated about preserving our rights we will lose them. It is highly likely that those who represent us in the House and the Senate will gladly vote to make this bill into law because on the surface it seems to be a good idea. It aims to protect the United States from the damaging effects of nonnative animal species. And while we cannot doubt that there is a need for some protections for our native habitats we are in danger of having large chunks of the reptile business swept away in the process. We cannot let this happen.
As a community we need to protect our interests. This means we need to become organized. The exact mechanism by which we do this needs to become a point of immediate discussion followed by swift action. The formation of a trade association with the ability to lobby on our behalf specifically as it relates to this proposed law appears to be a mandate. I suspect that the lack of such action will lead to the worst of all possible outcomes for the reptile industry.
The formation of a trade association is one thing. Joining and supporting (yes, financially) that association is another. If you like keeping/breeding/selling reptiles you will need to particiapte. This is true even if you only have a single animal that serves as the household pet. Trade associations that lobby for their cause require the financial resources to do so. Are you willing to spend money to support a trade association that endeavors to protect your right to own the reptile of your choosing? I hope so. Because if you’re not, you may lose the right to own one in the future.
Let me explain how this proposed law, currently called the ‘Nonnative Wildlife Invasion Prevention Act’, will affect you. Once in effect there will be two lists; a list of approved species and a list of banned species. These lists will control whether or not a certain species may be imported into the United States. Those who only want the reptile business propagated by captive breeding may initially welcome a long list of banned species. This Act, however, goes much deeper than controlling the importation of animals. In no part is the intent of this Act to preserve and protect reptiles in their native habitat. This Act intends produce a single long-term result: the elimination certain reptiles from existence anywhere in the United States.
If approved this Act will make the following a reality:
- You may no longer posess, sell or offer to sell, purchase, trade or offer for trade any animal on the banned list.
- Result: Large chunks of the reptile business: bye-bye. All of the people who have jobs today in part because of the reptile business: bye-bye.
- You may no longer transport any animal on the banned list across any state line by any means.
- Result: Shipping a reptile to someone across state lines will be a crime. Taking your reptile to a trade show will be a crime.
- You may no longer own any animal that is on the banned list. If you owned the animals PRIOR to this Act becoming law you may continue to lawfully own the animal.
- Result: There is a hidden catch to this. If you legally own one of these animals today you will have to reveal that ownership to the authorities tomorrow. And there will be fees for the ownership, I’m sure. I suspect you will also be subject to inspections from authorities and will have to notify the authorities of any action you are taking with your animal. This is already true in some communities today. This Act will make it a federal matter that applies to all of us.
- You may NOT breed any animal that is on the banned list and you may NOT provide an animal to any other person for the purpose of breeding.
- Result: This effectively end the reptile breeding trade for any banned species.
What kind of crime are you committing if you get caught doing one of these things? Well, it’s a Lacey Act violation. If the animal you are caught with is worth more than $350 it is a felony. You could be sent to prison for several years (including life) and fined up to $250,000. If you are a business that gets caught the fine doubles to $500,000. If the animal you are caught with is less than $350 in value you are guilty of a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges include jail time up to 1 year and fines up to $100,000 for individuals and $200K for businesses.
How do we fight such a proposal? Section 4(c)(B) requires that an animal on the Approved List can only get there if the evaluating authorities are provided “sufficient scientific and commercial information to allow the Secretary to evaluate whether the proposed nonnative wildlife species is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to other animal species’ or human health.” The elimination of the ability to buy/sell/trade/own or breed certain reptiles and/or transport them across state lines will cause grave financial harm to the reptile business. And it won’t just be the breeders who suffer. The retailers of reptile caging supplies, rodent breeders, and veterinarians will suffer financially as well. Freight carriers such as Delta and FedEx will lose millions of dollars per year in revenue. The trickle down effect will be widespread. This illustrates the importance of a trade association that has lawyers and lobbyists that can make these points and argue for our rights.
Section 4(b)(1)(B) provides for animals that are potentially destructive to be on the Allowed List that “may be harmful to the United States’ economy, the environment, or other animal species’ or human health, but already are so widespread in the United States that it is clear to the Secretary that any import prohibitions or restrictions would have no practical utility for the United States.” What a great opportunity this is. I’m not a lawyer and I can easily conjure up ideas on how this can be leveraged.
Where do we go from here? I’m not 100% sure but we need to get serious about it. There may be others in the industry who are way ahead of me. If you are, please speak up. If there is nobody out there who has already taken the lead on this then we need people within the community who have the skills to step up. Me? In addition to breeding reptile professionally I’m a computer network security guy. I know how to make computers go but I don’t really know how to start a trade association or set up a lobby with legal support. Do you?
Depending on the time of year I do several reptile trade shows per month. One thing that is always on my mind when working my table is theft. Some of the coolest people on this planet are in to reptiles and meeting them at shows is a good time. What sucks is how many times I have had to deal with people stealing stuff off the table. This means that some of the biggest losers on the planet are also fans of reptiles. They just choose to not pay for them.
In the past year we have had several animals stolen from the table. A male clown ball python was stolen last summer at White Plains. A Green Tree Python was stolen from the table at the Hamburg show last fall. A Lemon Blast ball python was stolen from the table at the last MARS show. I know who took the Lemon Blast and a reckoning will come. The list goes on. At the White Plains show on 1/25/09 we had a Brazilian Rainbow Boa stolen from the table. Two guys worked together (which is common). One was actually caught before getting out of the building but the one who had the snake got away.
All show vendors are waiting for the day when we can catch someone with an animal stolen from our table. The collective group beating that will happen will be vicious. The frustration of all the snakes lifted from table over the years will rain down upon the one soul who gets caught. I am balling my fists in anticipation of that moment…
January 25th saw another White Plains, NY reptile trade show come and go. It was FREEZING up there. It was 7 degrees when we woke up to drive over to the convention center. By the time we got there it was a balmy 9 degrees. Over the course of the day the temperature tripled. Stepping outside it was about 27 degrees. Of course was in shorts (as I always am). Living in Virginia Beach we do get all the seasons but it seldom gets crazy cold for long. Even when things are nasty a few dozen miles inland we always seem to have it much more mild. I don’t say this often but it was cold enough in New York that I would have actually put on long pants.
I can handle cold. My snakes can’t. Taking animals out into conditions like that always makes me uneasy. We pack our animals in insulated boxes and add heat packs when its appropriate. The morning is the worst when you’re at cold shows. All of the vendors coming in and out really makes it chilly inside. The Hamburg show, the White Plains show and the Long Island show are some of the coldest I go to at this time of year. Bruce, the promoter of the Long Island and White Plains shows does a good job of trying to maximize warmth but the Hamburg show is a mess (it’s the building’s fault, not the show promoter). We seem to count on the heat produced by the people who come to the show to warm the buildings.
Anyway, the White Plains show this time was a good show. It alwasy is. Attendance was good and people were spending money. I was set up at my buddy Ian’s table (from Outback Reptiles) and as usual it was chaos all day long. It makes the day go quickly. By the time I look at my watch, the show is almost over.
Breeding season is always an exciting time for me. I guess it’s that way for all ball python breeders. Breeding/Copulation leads to ovulation which leads to egg laying (oviposition) which leads to egg hatching!!! I keep meticulous records on my animal pairings. I write everything in a notebook and also use 3×5 index cards on each cage to record who is with who and what I observed when they were together (e.g. did I observe copulation?). I reconcile what’s on the 3×5 cards with the log book I keep and then transfer all of it to a database for long-term record keeping and analysis.
When my animals are paired I ususally look in to see what’s going on. Do I see courtship behavior? How about a good lock (e.g. breeding)? In order to make sure I don’t disturb anything going on I always open my cages slowly and peek in just enough to see what I need to see. To make sure I know that two animals are together I always put a white stone in front of the drawer. This keeps me from accidentally pulling a drawer open too fast, causing coitus interruptus. Over the years it has turned into something of a superstition for me, too. The rocks have to be very white and very smooth. There can’t be any roughness to them. In my mind I want the breeding to go smooth so I thing I subconsciously decided that the rocks needed to be smooth, too. A bit odd perhaps, but it’s how I do it.
Coming into my facility and seeing rocks all over the place makes me happy. It’s a season: breeding season!