THE BLONDIE STORY

ALBINISM
Albinism is widely distributed throughout the animal kingdom. It has been found in insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. The unusual appearance of albino animals is caused by genetic faults in the metabolic system that produces melanin, a pigment that typically causes the skin to be coloured brown through to black. Albinos generally cannot produce melanin and so their appearance is determined by a combination of the other naturally occuring colours in their skin. Often this absence of melanin produces albino snakes with spectacular red and yellow colouring which is normally masked in the wild type animals.

Blondie is an oculocutaneous albino which means that she contains no melanin in her eyes or skin. In 1902, the inheritance of this type of albinism was shown in mice to be a Mendelian recessive trait. This means that for offspring to show the albino appearance, or phenotype, they must inherit the gene for albinism from both parents. If only one parent contributes the albino gene the phenotype will be the normal wild type.

To create pure breeding albino offspring, a female albino, like Blondie, first must be crossed with a normal male carpet python to produce normal looking offspring (i.e. all these offspring have one albino gene from the mother and one normal gene from the father, but look normal because the albino trait is recessive). These offspring are called the first filial generation, or F1 generation. When the F1's are crossed with each other, one quarter of the offspring will be albino and three quarters will look normal. When these albino offspring are bred together all of their F2 offspring (the second filial generation) will be albino. A photographic record of our albino breeding project can be seen by putting your pointer on the picture of Blondie below and selecting the "Breeding Gallery" option.

Estimates of the incidence of albinism in wild snakes vary from 1:10,000 to 1:30,000. These individuals generally would not be expected to survive for long because being conspicuous would make hunting more difficult and the risk of predation greater. Only through captive breeding can large numbers of these genetic variants be produced and evolved into an extraordinary array of colour forms. Since the dawn of time through selective breeding, man has manipulated the patterns and colours of domesticated animals such as rats, mice, cattle, birds, dogs, cats, goldfish. Recently, the advent of herpetoculture (especially in the United States) has resulted in an exquisit range of "designer snakes" from species such as king snakes, rat snakes, milk snakes, corn snakes, burmese pythons, ball pythons and reticulated pythons.

So Blondie opens up a completely different aspect of captive breeding for Australian herpetoculturalists. Now, in addition to breeding naturally occuring forms with known provenance, it will be possible for us to introduce completely new colour morphs, previously masked in melanin, to the world of herpetoculture.

 
PLEASE NOTE - If you are interested in buying albino offspring, you can email Simon at docrock@southernXreptiles.com
 
BLONDIE
Blondie is an albino Northern Territory carpet python (Morelia spilota variegata). As I understand the story, she was originally found about sixteen years ago in a caravan park on the outskirts of Darwin. A lady was washing the dishes in her caravan when she looked up and saw a strange little python wrapped around the curtain. The find was reported to the Parks and Wildlife Commission and Blondie was saved to become a resident of the Territory Wildlife Park, about 40 minutes drive south of Darwin. Seven years later Blondie came into my possession to begin a breeding program which would hopefully capture her rare albino gene for all time and introduce it to the world of herpetoculture for the enjoyment of enthusiasts for generations to come.

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