Conformation and head type

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This right here is probably the most important thing to take note of. The reptile world and the show dog/cat world are nothing alike. The closest they might come would be in the area of things like the dwarf/super-dwarf retics. Even then, that is only among a handful of breeders like Garrett Hartle who are very intentionally breeding to maintain the smaller stature. For every one person like Garrett there are a half dozen that see the label of “super-dwarf” as a way to make a quick buck and so they will happily take a pair of 3m 50% super-dwarf animals and pair them together with no regard for the fact that, in spite of the 50% label they throw on them, most of those offspring will break 3m
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Also, and this is only from a personal stand point, there is already enough hate thrown at specific morphs because people see them as defective. Can you imagine the firestorm that will ensue if someone decides to intentionally try to breed for ball pythons with smashed in pug faces??

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Knock on wood that hopefully does not happen but then again with all the different characters in the reptile industry I cant say I would be surprised if that was the look someone was trying to go for.

A scaleless super-spider pug faced ball python is on the horizon, just waiting to cause a mess of the hobby :joy:

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Lucky for us the head type that I seem to prefer is pretty consistent in import stock.

Throw it in a 120 gal with an unregulated heat mat duct taped to the bottom with a hide on the hot end and call it a day! :upside_down_face:

In all seriousness through, I have noticed the head shape in some of the darker morphs (at least in my collection) tend to have the “bull dog” looking head while my lighter ones seems to be more like an arrowhead. As many have stated, it could be the head patterns and light/shadows throwing my eyes off through.

It’s interesting for sure.

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As far as I know/saw it’s not all Bell’s that have the risk of getting bug eyes. This risk is mainly there when breeding lesser to lesser, lesser butter or butter butter bell’s. There are very many ways to make a bell that don’t cause any genetic risk at all.

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I think the major difference between dog breeding and snake breeding is that dogs are bred to get that special shape head, body and tail and for the character qualities a particular breed of dogs has. Color is often secondairy. A perfect labrador can be black, chocolat brown, blond but can by shape and character still be a perfect labrador. For snakes we mostly check for colour and patern. There is no breeder worrying about character even though some claim that some combo’s have a different behaviour. Like a discussion there was on the forum on the “adventurous nature” of mojaves or the stories on the more defensive super cinny’s, super black pastels and 8balls.

The same with headshape, it’s not an issue in breeding as long as it is healthy ( no duckbilling, small eyes, bug eyes). I indeed see different healthy head shapes. My banana male has a very long triangular, flat head. Everytime I take him out I really notice it. My pastel female I bought last has a real beefy head, short and stout. My albino girl has a slim pointy nose, and my albino pied male has that hourglas shape, like he has big brains and a slim nose, my cinny fire girl has really big eyes, but it fits her head ect ect. But for as long as there are no real irregularitys there is no standard shape to breed for. Just like there is no size to breed for. I at least never heard any breeder mention that he is trying to breed for the bigger sized, or smaller ball python. They are in every size perfect for any snake keeper. It’s only about breeding healthy most beautiful snakes.

In boa’s and retics breeding size is something they do breed for or at least claim to breed for. But that is mainly because in the “avarage” size they can be too big for a lot of people, so there is breeding for dwarf and super dwarf retics and breeding different boa localities because of the difference in size. But I also never heard anyone making breeding plans based on headshapes for those two. The major thing is simply getting those stunning patterns and colours.

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There is indeed a range of head types. I have a dreamsicle that is a half sibling to two others from the same breeder that has an exceptionally “strong” looking head. It’s hard for me to define because I haven’t put much thought into but every time I pull her out I think “I really like her head shape”. I’d chalk it up as legitimate polygenic variation, different from head deformities that can occur alongside certain single gene mutations.

Could you selectively breed for certain head types? I’m sure you could. Outside of your own personal desires I don’t see there being much demand for it so, monetarily, it is unlikely to be fruitful. It could take quite a few generations to narrow down the gene pool and get consistent results… and depending on how important that trait is to you possibly not worth it. But if that’s what you really want to do I say go for it!

The ball python market is driven by visual single gene mutations. Polygenics don’t come into play nearly as much as other relatively similar species, such as boas. With boas we spend generations working with a single bloodline of normals isolating traits to work into other mutations. No one does that with ball pythons. The ball python market is quick moving, reliant upon creating new combinations of single gene mutations. To keep up there’s not much time/space/effort spent on projects focused on isolating polygenic traits.

Coming from a boa breeding background I was initially disappointed to learn there is little to no emphasis on polygenic selective breeding within ball pythons but it’s the nature of the game. The incredible range of mutations and what can be achieved through stacking them is where the market is rightfully focused. But, again, dont let what drives this particular market dissuade you from breeding however you want. Ultimately we’re all just having fun doing something we love and I believe it’s no one’s place to dictate anyone else’s pairings.

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Head type is more common in crested geckos if you’re interested in a “breed standard” method. Cresteds have a huge variability for overall size, snout ratio, and head formation not to mention the crests themselves. It’s not something most breeders look at outside of crowned, furry, and pinstripes, but I have seen individuals marked down for a “gator” snout where the nose is overlong. The artwork also tends for a short nose with exaggerated floppy crests.

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I was interested in head confirmation too when I first got into keeping, especially when I would buy a juvie and find it snout to be thinner than I like. The thing though is that the overall confirmation can be hard to distinguish in a hatchling/juvenile (in my experience anyway) because they often grow out of distinct head/snout ratios. I had 2 females come in with pretty narrow snouts, and now a year later they look comparable to my other females with the slightly wider snout shape I like. The head/snout ratio can also look different when they are in shed, which makes picking breeding stock based off of head shape pretty difficult. I would be really interested to see if there is a way to accurately predict adult head confirmation based on juvie head ratios, but in my collection they seem to grow out of it. I’ll have to try to get head shots of my adults later to compare!

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The trait is inherent to the mutation. As such, any of the alleles have the potential for expression of the trait, it is simply a matter of frequency of expression. Yes, SuperButter and SuperLesser are the ones that exhibit it most frequently but I have seen it also in SuperRusso, Butter/Russo, Mojave/Russo, Butter/Mojave, Karma, Leche, and OpalDiamond.

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Something that I think needs consideration is that the shape/form of the head changes with age. So what you see may be more differences in age/maturity and less absolute defined differences.

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Yeah alot of my snakes seemed to grow out of it if they appeared to have smaller heads. My clowns for example seem to have chunky heads towards the back of the head behind the eyes almost making them look like little pitbulls with jaw muscle. I love the name thescalesmith by the way.

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Haha thanks!! Haven’t actually smithed any scales yet, I’m hoping to remedy that this season

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