My other obsession (photo thread!)...

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emmabeth
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My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by emmabeth » Thu Sep 16, 2010 10:19 pm

About as far away as you could get from dogs... my other obsession is Corn snakes! Where dogs are furry and have four legs and need huge amounts of attention...

Corn snakes are smooooooth and silky and have no legs and require very little attention (in comparison, obviously they need some!)...

Sooo... meet the slithery snakey family, including our newest addition, Angel, who has come here all the way from a breeder in Texas!

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Angel - he says 'What you lookin' at.... Gigantor. Go away I got jet-lag!'...

Angel is very special - hes one of the first cornsnakes to have a dominant gene (other than the dominant genes for colour or pattern) - most cornsnake morphs are recessive meaning a snake needs two copies to look visually different to a wild type. Angel is a Tessera which is a pattern morph... without that morph he would look like this:

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Tottie is a normal (some call it 'Carolina' bt thats just an attempt to make it sound more exciting). Shes a normal wild type colour and pattern.

Then we have colour morphs where various different genes that would normally produce the wild type colouration are turned off or in some way made 'louder'.

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This is Bob. Bob is Anerythristic - which means she (yes Bob is a girl. Its short for Kate... and if you don't get the joke you need to watch Blackadder) has a gene that turns off a lot of the red pigment leaving a greyish tan and black snake.

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Next up is Claypole, hes a Ghost, which is a combination of Anerythristic, like Bob above... and also Hypomelanistic so the natural red and black is reduced giving a pinkish brown colour.

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This one is Pt (pronounced Pete) - his morph is called 'Platinum' (the combination morphs tend to get 'pretty' names according to their appearance) because he is a combination of Anerythristic (type A), Charcoal (anerythristic type b) and Hypomelanistic. In laymans terms then hes got three genes that have an effect on the normal colouration, the Anery and the Charcoal turn off the reds/tans... and the Hypomelanism reduces much of the black pigment, leaving a very blueish grey snake.

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This very yellow girl is 'Butters', so called because I was having a very unimaginative day and her morph is 'Butter'. Butter is a combination of two genes, Caramel which on its own gives you a very caramel coloured snake, and Amelanistic, which completely removes black pigment (unlike Hypomelanistic which just reduces it a lot). As an adult Butters will be very very yellowy.

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Finally this is Fluffy - ironically named because shes very VERY fiesty and bitey!
She has only one colour morph - Hypomelanism which reduces black, BUT... she also has a pattern gene, shes a Motley which varies from increasing the normal saddles a bit so they join, leaving the background colour as a dot between the saddles, to its maximum expression here, as a long thin pinstripe down her back. There is another related gene called Stripe which looks very similar but when you compare a Motley 'stripe' to a real Stripe they do look different.

The interesting thing (if you like snakes, i appreciate this is probably really boring if you dont!) is that the Motley and Stripe genes both also have an effect on colour in that they reduce or remove black - in the adult snake this means that often the pattern bleeds and fades into the background colour and as you can see from the photo, although Fluffy is Hypomelanistic... and so should have SOME black on her, she has none as the Motley gene has removed it.

This is where the Tessera is so exciting for cornsnake geeks - because not only is Tessera dominant (only need one parent to have it to breed more!) but the stripe is clearly defined by a black border which looks really really pretty!

I really like keeping snakes, despite the downside which is keeping mice. You can buy frozen mice to defrost and feed to your snakes but the ethics of this for me, do not sit well. The mice are intensively farmed and killed in unpleasant (though legal) ways which I am not happy about, so I breed my own and know they had a good, if short, life and a quick and humane death (they are NEVER fed live!) and of course I know my snakes are getting the best and freshest diet possible.

Soooo... whaddya all think? Yuck? Oooh!.. 'argh nooooooooo snakes on a forum..'.... 'Emma. You are insane.'

*(I'll have a few more soon too if anyone wants to see them when they arrive.... a Citrine and a Golddust)
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by wvvdiup1 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:37 am

Emmabeth, I see nothing wrong in keeping snakes and "No" I don't think you're insane, but have you been bitten by any of your snakes? (By the way, your newest snake, the one you got from a breeder in Texas, isn't saying what you've said! It's saying "Where the heck am I? Where is the desert? Where are the tumbleweeds, etc?") :lol:

Very informative Emmabeth! :D
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by emmabeth » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:47 am

He ate his mouse yesterday.... he seemed to like it so I guess my 'cooking' (ie, defrosting!) skills are as good as back home!

Yeah, when I got him out of his transport tub (to give you a clue how tiny he is.... it was a deli cup!) im sure he was saying 'Uh.... this ain't Texas... its cooooooold here... ugh!'

As to your other question - yep I've been bit, so far, Bob, Tottie and Butters have all nailed me, but since all mine are still little it doesnt hurt at all, in fact I didn't see Butters strike, just looked down as my hand felt funny and saw her latched on there going 'NyomNyom'.

When they strike and get you, it makes you jump and swear because its so so fast, way faster than a slow ole' human like me can move, but the teeth are tiny and its kinda like being bitten by 'velcro'. You just have to freeze and let the snake figure out that you are not dinner - if you pull back they can tear the skin or pull their own teeth out which is not good for them at all.

They have a couple of different kinds of bites too,t he first is the defensive 'go away dangerous predator' bite... which is accompanied by hissing and also they rattle their tails too which is really cute! That kind of bite they strike at you and bite and release usually (sometimes their ickle teeth get caught on your skin and they cant let go so easily).

The other kind is a feeding response and its usually not a fast strike but a slow and considered wiiiiiiiiiiiiide open mouth and then NYOM... sometimes they will nudge at your hand first as if trying to figure out where is the best place to bite - they do this to prey items first usually, prodding with their noses before the wide open mouth bite.

Either way the thing to do is hold still til they get over it and quit, they are not stupid, just a bit over-ambitious and think they are very very dangerous and intimidating :lol: but they do realise after a little while that they cant eat you, so then they stop and spit you out.

Mostly once you have a cornsnake out of its tub or vivarium and are holding it, it isnt going to bite you unless you hurt it. Unless you smell of food. :)
Anyway its hatchlings and youngsters that are the most bitey, as they get older and bigger they get used to being handled and are not so woried about predators so get tamer.
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by wvvdiup1 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 1:53 am

You mean, "A little bite over-ambitious," if you know what I mean, Emmabeth! :lol: But, don't you mean they hiss and rattle before striking?
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by ***Melissa*** » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:04 am

They are lovely Em :D And very interesting.

Did you ever find the one that escaped?
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by Nettle » Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:08 am

They are beautiful.

I like to look at snakes but I couldn't be doing with the work of owning them. So thank you for sharing yours :D so I can enjoy them without cleaning them out or feeding them mice.

Fascinating colour info and as for snake behaviour - ooh interesting - more please!
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by Shellie » Fri Sep 17, 2010 6:42 am

Your snake babies are beautiful Emmabeth. I learned an appreciation for snakes years ago when I had a friend who kept pythons and boa's. Much bigger snakes, but still very beautiful. Yours are lovely and I love the little stories you told of each one. Very interesting stuff.

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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by Noobs » Fri Sep 17, 2010 8:40 am

Not a snake fan but I appreciate your sharing the photos! Fascinating stuff!

Can you clicker train a snake?

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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by BCMumto3 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 9:01 am

I think snakes are beautiful , though ive never met a real one , i've only ever seen them in pics and on TV

I love the colourings of yours , and learning how and why they are coloured that way :)

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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by emmabeth » Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:11 am

Melissa - yes! That was Bob who got out..

We found her 5 weeks later in the 'bits and bobs' drawer beside our kitchen sink - Mike put his hand in there to rummage for some candles for my birthday cake and found more than he was looking for! We think for that time shed survived on drips of water she found behind the sink unit and possibly house spiders. There must be a hot pipe back there as I cannot imagine how else she survived for over a month when the temperatures here were below 0c and it snowed loads!

Since she came back shes been very VERY wild which is interesting to note... that a calm 'friendly' hatchling reverted to very wild behaviour after 5 weeks of fending for herself.... though its also a pain in the rear as she tries to escape a lot.

Im not sure how much a snake can learn but she definitely has changed and learned from her experience and its clear that her wild instincts are not very far from the surface at all despite the fact she will be from a line of snakes captive bred for many generations.

Sandy - usually they will rattle first, hiss later and would prefer to run away than attack. If they do bite as a defensive strategy they will often rattle and hiss at the same time, but often they rattle and hiss with no intentions of biting at all - and they can very easily bite without bothering to rattle or hiss first!

What I would like to know and I don't because these are the only snakes I have ever kept - do all snakes (or at least all colubrids ie the 'typical' snakes like rat snakes, adders, bull snakes etc, rather than boidae - boas and pythons which are a bit different) rattle....

So did Rattle snakes just develop the rattle because its something all snakes do and it became a particularly beneficial thing for them... or, do some snakes rattle because mimicking a rattle snake is a beneficial thing to do? Er.. which came first... the rattle.. or the rattle snake!

I have thought about clicker training and though I would say they find food rewarding.. because of the infrequency of feeding (mine are fed every five to seven days) you would struggle to get them to associate the click with the reward as it would take months to build up that association. Also, when would you click... as they eat? is that the most rewarding moment for the snake, because though a snake will 'know' it is about to be fed, feeding time is not a simple reward for a snake, its also a dangerous time, even though my snakes are captive bred and have never fed on live food, the risk as far as the snake is concerned of the prey item biting them is still real.

So would you click as the snake eats.... which youd think would be a very rewarding moment, but actually a snake is super vulnerable as he swallows as the prey item squashes his respiritory tract and momentarily blocks access to his lung, and he cant move anywhere near as quickly whilst swallowing or just afterwards. I have one snake who will not eat whilst you watch him, because as far as hes concered, I am a potential predator and I may kill him whilst he eats!

Soo I don't think you could, unless you could find something else that the snake finds rewarding which is quite hard to judge!

You can certainly classically condition a snake to associate a particular movement or sound with feeding time - my friends Royal Python appears to know that if you open the left hand side of his viv, its food time... and he goes into a feeding response type coil and starts flicking his tongue out to air scent regardless of whether you have food with you (or even ready in the building!). If you open the right hand side of the viv he doesnt even move!
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by Wes » Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:52 am

Gorgeous snakes, Emmabeth! Reptiles are a second passion for me (after dogs, of course), though I'm a bearded dragon guy. I find the genetics fascinating, though beardies are far more expensive to breed than corn snakes. I didn't realize all the different morphs of corn snakes though - very beautiful! Maybe I'll think about getting one. :)

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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by Fundog » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:57 pm

Funny-- I have the eeby-jeebies now. And yet, I myself have been known to capture non-venomous snakes (the last one I picked up was a baby California King Snake, slithering down the sidewalk), and play with them, and take them around to show to children and such.... Sometimes I just never know how I'm going to react. :lol: But if I can get my mind around the eeby-jeeby-snaky-reptile-ness of them, then yes, they certainly are beautiful, and strikingly colored. 8)
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by OhioRuthie » Fri Sep 17, 2010 5:52 pm

I use to have one that looked similar to Tottie...his name was Oscar...he was so cool! I had to sell him back to the pet store because parents were afraid of him and I wasn't home as much anymore. I was a teen.
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by wvvdiup1 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 8:36 pm

Okay, I know Emmabeth "plays" with snakes, Fundog, and myself have also, so who else have picked up snakes and "played" with them? I've been bitten a few times, but only by non-poisonous snakes such as garters, blacks, and racers, and nearly bitten by a copperhead. However, as for having the "eebie jeebies" as Fundog describes the feeling or emotion, I think that's the fear instilled in us by others such as our parents.

By the way, I was telling Emmabeth some time ago about this festival they called the "Snake Hunt" in the north-central part of Pennsylvania in which competitors hunted poisonous snakes, put them in bags, then in this rings, release and try to catch and handle these snakes without being bitten. I was wondering if there is anyone here on the forums from the north-central part of Pennsylvania, in such counties as Clearfield, Elk, Potter, for example, who could tell me or us if they still have these snake hunts? :?: I went to one Clearfield county some years ago, but I don't know if they still have them.

Maybe I could just "Google" it... :wink:
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Re: My other obsession (photo thread!)...

Post by leslie123 » Fri Sep 17, 2010 10:19 pm

Wow, such varied and beautiful colors on them. I always love to watch them move in their kind of slow and deliberate way. Interesting story about the one who got out and lived on its own for 5 weeks, then seemed to revert back to wild. A few years ago when I worked as a vet assistant we had someone bring in an injured California King snake. The vet I worked for would have nothing to do with it. He was from Uganda and he said the snakes from his "homeland" drop out of trees and are not the friendly type so he developed a fear of them. The snake had somehow gotten a laceration in its side and a couple of its rib bones were poking out of the laceration. We x-rayed it and nothing was broken so we carefully pulled the skin back over the ribs and treated it with topical antibiotic every day. I had it at my house and after a couple weeks we got it to eat a mouse. Apparently that helped it remember it was a wild animal. The next day we couldn't even get a hold of it to check its wound. We could see that it was healed nicely but what a change from a docile snake back to a wild animal. We released it the next day. :)

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