Some confetti

Reading the news over the past two days saddens me, and to be frank it sickens me to my stomach. What a twisted world we live in. Trust me, I know nothing about war, and very little about the politics and ideologies that drive any of it. You really wouldn’t want me to write to much about this… What I do know, is that I hate the situation, and I feel sorry for those that have to live with the consequences. I’m in no place to make any statements to how far those consequences may reach exactly, but it’s already too much. It just feels to me that the state of the world is dark at the moment. A new low in an era of lows.

To save you the horror of me pretending to be a war journalist, I will instead stick with what I know for my post for today.

And what I know is that the world could use some brightness.

Some color.

Something more cheerful.

Yes, you guessed it right! What better way to cheer up than to talk about snakes? Consider me a weirdo, but it brings me joy every time. Today I wanted to share a picture of perhaps one of my favorite snakes (I feel like I say this with all of them. It is what it is).

The snake pictured below I got from a German breeder a couple of months ago. It’s a female cornsnake that carries the Palmetto gene – a gene that greatly reduces pigments so that it’s an almost all white snake. However, they also have some paradoxical shit going on, which makes some scales keep the original color. Most babies are pretty much all-white, but as they grow – with every shed of skin, they develop more of these pigmented speckles. A white beast, peppered in confetti. Goddamn cheerful if you ask me!

Some confetti

This gene originates from a wild caught snake that was found in the Southern US, in the state of South Carolina – also known as the Palmetto State. There has been some debate over whether these are truly cornsnakes, or whether they are potentially black or texan ratsnakes, in which leucism (a complete lack of pigment) is common, and indeed at first glance these Palmetto cornsnakes are resembling those. Breeders have over the years compared morphological characteristics (mostly counting scales in various places in the head and tail) of both species, which seem to lean more towards cornsnakes than to ratsnakes. I haven’t counted scales yet, but maybe I will some day. I guess we’ll never truly know. The wild caught specimen may have been a hybrid to begin with. I don’t think anyone is exploring the genetic origins of cornsnake color mutations in great detail, and scientifically speaking, it may not even be that interesting of a question. And for what it’s worth, by now this gene has become so widespread in the cornsnake breeding community that whatever it is, it’s hard to take out of the gene pool. I guess as long as there won’t be any reintroductions of cornsnakes into the wild from these captive populations it’s fine.

Whatever it is. I have really grown to love the looks. The snow white colors on a snake just really make it stand out. And the speckling… What can I say? It just cheers me up.

This beautiful animal is potentially homozygous for diffused (see here), and potentially heterozygous for anerythrism (eradicating red pigments, see here) and amelanism (eradicating black pigments, no example post here – I have few amelanistic animals).

I own a couple of animals that carry the Palmetto gene in heterozygous form. My intention was to produce them myself some day. However, the more I saw them, the less patient I became. I wanted one of these. NOW! I guess it doesn’t hurt owning the real deal in addition. This way I will just produce a few more in a year or so, depending on how she grows. She feeds like a beast, and currently grows like crazy. Let’s hope for a steady continuation of that trajectory.

I hope you enjoy her as much as I do. Let it be some confetti to brighten up your day.

Alright, as a small bonus for those who made it to the end. You must love snakes too. Check out my Hypo Pied-sided Diffused cornsnake male! It shed its skin today and is looking redder (and better) than ever! He may not have much pied speckling going on, but his colors are as good as they get. Imagine that this animal is about nine months old and has about a year of growth and diffusion to go before reaching his full potential. His future is going to be bright!

Published by Robin Heinen

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

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