Breeding Carpet Pythons
In regard to carpet pythons (Morelia spilotes), the practice of selective breeding has led to enormous success. Selective breeding of carpet pythons has resulted in a wide variety of colors and patterns, as well as new morphs that have never seen the light of day in their Australian natural habitat, but do in our household terrariums.
Successful selective breeding of carpet pythons requires detailed knowledge gathering, development of a breeding plan, patient acquisition of stock and an attention to detail. I will discuss each of these processes in detail below.
The initial process involves gaining as much knowledge as possible for the breeding goal. This includes reading thoroughly on the subject, talking with successful breeders and seeing as many carpet pythons as possible that are related to the breeding goal. For example, if the goal is to create clean, vibrant, black-and-yellow jungle carpet pythons, seeing as many jungle carpet pythons at all stages of development is key. This helps the prospective breeder develop a visual library of jungle carpet pythons and thus better ability to discriminate value when choosing the breeding stock.
A diamond jungle jaguar python currently in the author’s collection (Morelia Trophy Club) at 2 years of age, showing the clean scales, that given the line genetics (Morelia Trophy Club Gamma line), will likely remain bright and clean for years to come.
Noting details of the ontogenetic color change is essential. While viewing numerous photos on the Internet is helpful, it is also critical to examine live animals. Seeing live animals affords perceptions of scales, colors and patterns that cannot be gained from viewing photos or videos. This gathering of knowledge pertaining to the breeding goal should occur before acquiring any stock. Planning specifically what you want to achieve also includes a timeline for achieving the selective breeding goal. In my opinion, lack of planning patience is where many people fall short in their selective-breeding efforts. The timeline should not be calculated by assuming totally successful breeding seasons and consistently healthy animals that will always breed when required. Nature has a way of waylaying the best laid plans, as animals sometimes develop illnesses at the most inopportune times, lay infertile eggs or act completely disinterested in breeding. Sometimes reaching the breeding goal in one or two years is reasonable, sometimes much longer is required. In my current selective breeding project, that is, creating shades of blue and green in jaguar carpet pythons using green tree python hybrids, I am estimating a decade will be required to achieve my goals.
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