I didn’t really want her

It’s time for another post about cornsnakes! Nobody cares, but I do. You’ll appreciate them sooner rather than later, trust me.

This morning, my son ‘helped’ me clean some snake enclosures. He doesn’t really help. It’s more of a hassle having him around, because he hands me over anything I could potentially need (but mostly I don’t). Papa water bowl? Papa paper towel? Papa new box? Papa next one? He seems to enjoy my hobbies. I think I will give up on not wanting him to copy my hobbies. It’s okay if I can share snake-keeping with my son in the future. Having grown up without a father around, that would have been my own childhood dream. Maybe it will be his, too, and one I can easily fulfill.

Anyway. I digress. This post was not intended to be some sentimental journey to the past. Instead, it’s very much about the now (Eckhart Tolle would be proud of me). Okay, maybe it’s also a little bit about the future…

I like having my weekly snake cleanup round. It’s a moment where I can inspect and see the status of each snake I own, closer than from the outside of the enclosure. Cornsnakes can change a lot as they get older, in terms of behavior, but also in pattern and coloration. And seriously, sometimes a week makes a difference. It’s fun to see that some animals always stand out, in terms of growth, or in changing looks.

Today, I was just a bit amazed by how much my female pied-sided granite (or homozygous for pied-sided + diffused + anerythristic) has changed since I got her. I really love this beast!

The interesting thing is. I didn’t want her… At all. I spoke to her breeder about the animals he had available from her clutch, but anerythrism was not on my mind. There were many different genes involved in the clutch, but I think all hatchlings were at least homozygous for diffused. I love the diffused gene, as I have explained a bit here. The diffused gene often intensifies color. Now, when I selected animals from the clutch, I initially asked for a female pied-sided diffused. When mature, this will turn into a deep red snake, with white speckling on it’s sides. Perfect contrast. Unfortunately for me, the breeder had no female pied-sided diffuseds in the clutch (just males, unlucky sex ratios), and had only pied-sided diffused anerythristic females. Now, for the not so cornsnake savvy reader – anerythrism is a gene that removes any red pigment in a snake. The result, is a mostly grey snake, with some variation in how it’s expressed and looks. I am not a fan of the anerythrism and diffused gene combination. It usually looks messy. And as you can imagine, a snake that is already black and white, is less awesome with white speckling on the sides, simply because it doesn’t contrast so strongly. I was a bit disappointed that I would not have pied-sided diffuseds, but I decided to get the anerythristic version nonetheless, and accept the fact that I would breed the ‘simple’ pied-sided diffuseds from a pairing with a hypomelanistic pied-sided diffused from the same breeder (can’t wait for that first breeding season!). **As a little spoiler, I recently also ordered a couple of animals from an Italian breeder that specializes in pied-sided diffused cornsnakes. Top notch stuff. I can’t wait for them to arrive, early spring! Expect a post then. These snakes will be amazing!**

Lately, I feel a bit different about this pied-sided diffused anerythristic female though. She’s my best grower. She’s also very calm and docile. She’s a snake that my toddler can handle without problems. And interestingly, over the past few weeks, her pied-sidedness comes out more and more. I am beginning to actually like the way she looks, even if she has no reds. Her sister – a simple diffused female – is my second-best grower, and easily makes up for the lack of red in the pied-sided diffused anerythristic.

It’s gonna be fun to see these two grow, and breed them in the future.

Pied-sided granite female this morning.
The same snake, in August 2021.
I have owned this animal for almost five months. I got her as a hatchling.
Some of the white is coming through. Although it’s still not too obvious.
Her sister. The simple diffused female. Imagine some white speckling on the sides… Perfection!
This is one of the animals I reserved. An (extreme) pied-sided diffused male. Picture by the breeder, G. Severi. Isn’t this perfect? Look at that contrast! If you don’t love cornsnakes after seeing this, you probably have no soul.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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