Ethics of Spiders and Spider Breeding

I think the look of spider is awesome.
Also a number of other morphs can have wobble or worse, but they are not targeted as such so much if at all.
But the sales of spider are banned in major club meets/expos in the UK. I have to consider that.
For me, If i could be confident about no neurological issues in an individual I would go for one.
Even wobble would distress me too much. That’s just me. No judging.
I would have to see the animal or video as opposed to pictures so I could be sure about wobble.
UK MorphMarket examples rarely mention if there is any wobble or worse. They should be clear.
Then again, I would not want to sell any with wobble hatchlings I produce even if my adult had none, and couldn’t keep many as just pets or want to euthanize any with very sever neurological issues that affected feeding and quality of life.
I would not agree with termination of a child because they were autistic or learning disability’s (different) as they can have quality of life, and in the right environment, more quality and even teach us something about how to live.
So why Spider? I’m So confused.
So for now, I have not been brave enough, educated enough, or confident enough to go there.
I am still on the fence.
personally I need to think a lot more about this before i decide.


As someone who is absolutely against breeding spider in any circumstance, I figured I would answer a couple of recurring themes I’ve seen in responses to those who are against spider breeding. Please understand none of this is meant as disrespectful toward any other commenters in this thread, and I ask you to read with the intention of understanding a different perspective, rather than developing a counter-response.

First, the cherry picking. Unfortunately, lots of people are against spider and don’t know about the other morphs with neurological issues, because of how much attention spider has gotten from animal activist groups. This is unfortunate, but it doesn’t negate the validity of the position. I spend a lot of time educating people new to the hobby on ALL of the neuro genes to prevent this exact issue. But I do want to reiterate that there are many of us who do not cherry pick. After my research and conversations, I believe that breeding spider is unethical. I believe the same about HGW, woma, champagne, spotnose, and any super forms that have been shown to have nuero issues. I am to the same effect against breeding super cinnamon or super black pastel combos; I am against breeding any morphs with fertility issues, such as caramel albino and desert; and I am against breeding any morphs that can cause physical defects (such as super lessers, which can be at risk for bug-eye, although rare). So my belief about breeding morphs with issues applies to all morphs with issues that have the potential to decrease quality of life. Another point that’s been brought up is the dismissal of similar things in other species. To this point, one of the common rebuttals to those who do speak out against neuro gene breeding is about pugs/bulldogs/other purebred dogs with issues. Once again, my belief here applies across the board. Yes, I believe it is unethical to breed dogs that are at increased risk for health defects, including brachy dog breeds (like bulldogs and pugs), and breeds with common hip/spine issues, to provide another example. In the case of, say, golden retrievers, there are health tests available which breeders can use to verify that breeding sires and dams do not carry the genetic mutations that cause increased risk of hip dysplasia, and can also do vet checks for bone density to verify that the breeding dogs will not pass on the tendency for weakened bone growth to offspring. If a breeder does all of this testing to certify the genetic health of the dogs and makes those certifications publicly available to buyers, I have no problem with breeding animals that are guaranteed not to carry those increased-risk genes. If the breeder does not do this testing, then breeding is therefore unethical in my opinion. I just wanted to highlight that many of us are indeed consistent across the board in terms of views on ethical breeding.

Another point: I consider the neurological issues to be exactly the same as incubation-error genetic issues. Say you have a snake hatched from a healthy clutch with a small kink in the spine near the tail in front of the cloaca. I would venture to say that a good portion of breeders would sell this animal as a pet-only, or at the very least at a discounted price. Not because we know that the snake’s quality of life and ability to breed will be affected, but because we recognize that we don’t know if it will be, and as such is not worth the risk to the animal. The snake may be able to pass food, may be able to pass eggs, but it also may not. So as breeders, we recognize that risk. Minor kinks rarely severely affect the individual, but because there is the chance they could, it is a common practice to discourage the breeding of these animals. I fail to see how this is any different than breeding neuro genes - spider, for instance. Everyone is correct in saying that we don’t know how the neurological syndrome affects the animals. Therefore, it’s possible that a snake with a wobble has no negative quality of life at all - and it’s also possible that because snakes do not show pain the same way we do, that the condition causes discomfort/pain/stress that does indeed reduce the quality of life. Plus, as the snake gets older, the syndrome can change. A snake hatched with wobble syndrome can live a life that is completely unaffected. On the other hand, a snake hatched with wobble syndrome can also develop a severe wobble over time, that may cause them to corkscrew, be unable to eat, drown in a too-deep water bowl, etc. We simply don’t know. We can make an assumption one way or the other based on what we want to believe, but we don’t know whether or not the condition will negatively affect the animal’s quality of life, in the same way we don’t know if a minor kink will affect the animal. So it is interesting to me that breeders who will sell snakes with minor kinks as pet-only also encourage the breeding of neurological genes that can have the potential for a negative consequence. It implies to me that there is a level of cognitive dissonance when it comes to breeding neuro morphs because they enhance the visual phenotype of the animal and therefore people are more reluctant to recognize the same potential for negative consequences, though the situation is in my opinion, exactly the same as if a snake were hatched with a physical deformity. It’s a standard aesthetic bias - this animal is pretty and I want to create it, therefore I am reluctant to give credence to ideas that may trigger my moral code to believe that producing them might not be the right thing to do. As someone whose degree was in communication and rhetoric studies, this is very interesting to me. Just something to consider.

Ultimately in breeding, my belief is that the health of the animals and the species overall should be the paramount consideration. For this reason we do lots of things - we try not to inbreed because in some cases it can have a negative effect, we try not to breed females with kinks or other health issues like RIs because in some cases it can have a negative effect. Some of us also hold back animals that are better feeders or are a better expression of their genetics for the purpose of enhancing the genetic health of our lines overall. Breeding neuro genes like spider enhances the phenotype of the animal in a breeder’s eyes, but it does not enhance the health of the animal or the anima’s lineage. I would argue that it has a negative effect on the animal’s genetic health, but it at the very least has a neutral effect on the genetic health of the animal. So to this end, there are no positives for the animal or for the species or hobby long-term that come from breeding these morphs - and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that at least in some cases, the animal’s quality of life can be negatively affected. So the issue here with my personal ethics is not defects - it’s any defect that has the potential to negatively impact the animal’s QOL. You are correct in saying that every morph is in itself a genetic defect, but the qualifying detail here is whether or not a genetic defect has the potential to negatively impact an animal’s quality of life - however severely or minorly, and however often or infrequently. This is why I believe that breeding neuro morph ball pythons is inherently unethical, and it is why I speak out against it - if I truly believe that breeding neuro morphs is an unethical practice, I would not be following my own moral code to stay silent when I see people doing it. And I want to clarify as well that I’m not saying or meaning to imply that people who breed these genes are unethical or “bad” people. Good people are very capable of doing bad things, and still being good people. It is the practice of intentionally breeding morphs that can have a negative effect on QOL that is ultimately the issue in my opinion.

This is why I do make an effort to speak out. I have a page on my website dedicated to ‘problem’ morphs and why I choose not to breed them, in the interest of hobby-wide education. I inform people I meet who own neuro genes of their issues, and unfortunately in a lot of cases people (especially casual keepers) do not know. And I recognize that it isn’t my place to control the rest of the hobby and what someone else can do with their animals - to a point. So I’m not running around yelling at folks who breed neuro morphs or claiming that they’re terrible people. But I do engage in conversation to provide a different perspective, and I do openly speak out against it, and it’s disappointing that my position is often met with ridicule and dismissal when I make a big effort to have good faith discussions regarding the issue.

Once again, none of this is intended with any kind of disrespect. I simply want to highlight the issue from the perspective of someone who is against breeding neuro genes in any capacity and who does actively try my best to advocate against it.


Any time you breed ANY morph you run the risk of hatching defects. So by that standard you wouldn’t breed ANY morphs at all.


You even run this risk when producing normals from a normal x normal pairing.


Have you kept and bred spider or is this choice made by what others have said?


I see some knit picking to this, so im gonna state the obvious here, Im pretty sure they inteneded an significantly INCREASED risk. To think they meant any risk whatsoever is kind of tongue in cheek. Breeding any animal ever caries risk of genetic mutation (good or bad) this is obvious to the point of not really needing mention in my opinion, so when i read their post, i made the assumption they meant a significantly elevated risk of deformities such as can be found here:

On that front, I am in agreement that it goes against my personal ethics as well, just as i dont breed jag carpet pythons and despite absolutely loving the super form of the zebra gene, cant bring myself to ever get oe breed one because of the prevalent issues they are normally born with.

That being said, i recognize it as my own opinion, I do not try to regulate the hobby to disallow genes i dont approve of or attack people who breed them. Spider and champagne produce some awesome looking snakes for example even if i wont buy them, and then I also need to look at the fact i have and am attempting to breed scaleless that have not been able to thrive yet. My intentions of trying to get their husbandry right so they can be kept safely and reliably doesnt forgive the fact that many before me have tried and failed, and not having at least belly scoots is a genetic harm to the animal.

So while i definitely disagree with the knowns, it would be wrong of me not to see my own hypocrisy in the matter, despite my intentions. Whether i figure out proper care i can pass on to the community or not doesnt take away the fact scaleless ball pythons are a special needs morph.

Everyone has different values and different wants and needs. Very few i imagine breed anything with negative intent. Where i get really upset is when people breed spider to spider so that they only half to home 25% normals instead of 50% due to 25% being the super form and dieing. Ive never seen that to be the case on here, but facebook has either some very uninformed people, or very uncaring people. Acceptable risk is one thing, but knowingly dooming 25% of a clutch just to save a little scratch is crazy in my mind.

Either way the TLDR; its not for me, but to each their own.


I’m curious of this as well, as anybody who has produced a decent number of spiders know the vast vast vast majority of them excel in captivity if keep in proper conditions.

I would like to point out the fact at this point no one has had a visual FEMALE produce a viable clutch.


You have misinterpreted. As I said many other times throughout my explanation, I am against morphs that increase the risk of an animal having a decreased quality of life. Yes, you run the risk with breeding any animal of any species, but there are morphs that increase that likelihood, and those are what I advocate against.


Are you basing this off your own personal experiences or others? If it’s other experiences what’s sources are you using to draw your opinion? My point is as someone who owns spiders and have produced them I have yet to have one that did not thrive.


Whether or not I personally have bred spiders is irrelevant as long as I have done my due diligence in research. When I first decided to breed, I did in-depth reading about the morphs. I watched all the YouTube videos, both in favor and against. I read most of the posts here, both in favor and against (and I’d like to note that the overwhelming majority here are in favor). I read the few scientific studies we have regarding the morph. And then I sought out people. I’ve observed and cared for other breeders’ collections who keep and breed neuro morphs - and I personally know in real life (and specifically in my area) multiple pet keepers who have one or more neuro gene animals. Many of the animals I interacted with appeared to have no clear detriment to their life - but some very obviously did. As I mentioned, any increased risk for the animal to have a decreased quality of life is not something I support, and also as I mentioned, we have no way to know for certain that these animals do not experience some form of discomfort - especially when there are very clear cases of animals missing strikes, corkscrewing, etc. Your assumption is that the animals thrive based on your own observations, and my assumption is that these animals do have an increased risk to experience discomfort, trouble with balance and locomotion, etc., and as much as both of us would like to prove our position right, the fact is that we don’t know. Just as we don’t know whether or not a small spinal kink will affect an animal’s ability to breed, we also don’t know whether the neurological condition will at some point affect the animal’s ability to thrive. As you’ve mentioned, these are the rare and most severe cases, but the fact is that they exist, and as such my conclusion is that the intentional production of these morphs is inherently unethical because that increased risk will always be present. You don’t by any means have to agree with me, but it’s also unfair to dismiss my researched opinion simply based on whether or not I have bred them myself. I never will because it is so much against my moral code. Perhaps I’m too cautious for most of the folks here, but I would rather know for certain that none of my animals will suffer because of the choice I made to breed them than make the assumption that they won’t and at some point be proven wrong.

Once again, I’m not insulting those who breed them or pushing for a ban on the morphs. I interact on a regular basis with breeders in my area who produce these morphs regularly. I simply follow my own ethical code in advocating against something that I genuinely believe has the potential to do harm.


There are no valid scientific studies of Spider (or any of the “problem” morphs).

There are papers that have been published by people affiliated with or supported by AR groups, but those papers lack any form of actual scientific research and are nothing more than supposition heaped on speculation piled on top of random guesswork

Likewise, we have no evidence to know for certain that these animals are experiencing some form of discomfort.

A lack of evidence on one side does not automatically prove evidence for the other side.


Hard to prove that point with so many old wobble morph snakes out there still thriving. I have half a dozen that are between 10-15 years old and their food intake/metabolic efficiency has never changed. Honestly at this point evidence points to the opposite of your position being true.

If you stress out an adult ball python one common thing that will happen is, it will stop breeding. Any experienced breeder knows that. If wobble snakes are stressed out, why do they continue to produce eggs?


Very true, and it is for this exact reason i bring it up. I do not want it to seem like i am attempting to be “holier than though” I could very well be that they are fertile or infertile, but the real issue is finding adults in the first place, they exist, but the care is so much a mystery that you wont really find adults in breeders collections, they require too much time and individual care. Ive kept mine alive and healthy, but not without their fair share of issues (stuck eyecaps is the biggest, even with a proper soak, the skin is usually not strong enough for a proper shed, so it usually dislodges the next shed a bit causing wrinkling in the next layers eyecap, sometimes it comes out good, but it is a heck of a time, and if it doesnt come out good you have to wait for the next shed or risk harming the animals vision permanently).

I mainly included this to show that i understand where some people are coming from. There isnt really a benefit to snakes without scales for them, but i personally find them interesting and enjoyable to interact with, so i would be lieing to say i NEVER put my own thoughts before the health of the animals. It would be healthier to just let the gene fade away, but i would prefer to try and find a way to make it work. My end goal is for them to still be happy and healthy, but it is the harder path, when abandoning the project would be the far easier one.

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It’s relevant when you are championing against it even though you have no experience or scientific evidence to support your conclusions. You are basing it off others experiences and or others opinions not science.


They stated that they do have experience with them, they’re just not their own personal animals. Animals from multiple collections including breeders who support the breeding of them. There also isn’t any scientific research into any problem morph, so neither side has the scientific evidence to support their conclusion. Once again, they are basing their opinions off of their personal experience and their research (from both sides of the argument) which can only be so scientific because of the lack of proper research.


The problem here, is nobody can base their opinion about this based on science as there simply isnt any. Experiences are the only thing to go by, be it first or second hand doesnt matter. If a thing happens, then it happens. It doesnt matter who it happened to. The issue then becomes hearsay. A bunch of individuals with the bad luck to have the worst case scenerios get together to demonize it based on their experiences, while on the advocacy side you have the few breeders who are willing to stick their necks out and share their experiences over the broad spectrum of all they have bred. Neither side is incorrect in the sense, their experiences arent null and void, the problem is when its quantified. You will see 1 breeder who has dealth with hundreds if not thousands of animals count as 1 point for spiders, while every individual with a bad experience even once will count as a point against them.

A good way to handle this, if we wanted to be scientific, is for those that breed spiders to keep track of their animals over the years and keep note of how many develop issues that effect QoL and how many of them never get past a minor wobble to no issues at all. Having a reliable statistic of just how big or small the issue is would help put a better number on it besides 1 breeder vs 20 hobbyists. It wouldnt be a perfect system as obviously both husbandry, socialization, and care also play a massive role in this, but it would definitely contribute far more to the discussion than us speculating at eachother :slight_smile: some good solid real evidence would be a massive boon in this debate, because all it is currently is experiences and opions from both sides, but no real data.


This is true my problem is the vast majority of people putting out anti spider video in reality have never even worked with them. And these videos and the people putting them out are putting out a lot of misinformation. But if you ask people actually working with them and producing them they will tell you the vast majority of them excel in captivity.


I have definitely seen the hate videos, ive also seen videos from firm advocates showing how many do well.

I feel alot of the disconnect comes from people believing that breeders are going to lie to sell their animals. I have to assume that alot of the misinformation proliferates under the guise that breeders are going to protect their interests by claiming there is rarely issues. Thats why proper documentation and follow-up would be so powerful. By properly documenting the statistics it would give more than just hearsay, but proper data. Again, the results wont be perfect because once the animals leave the breeders control, there are outside factors like husbandry involved, but it would be better info than we have. If neuro issues can take until adulthood to present themselves, then can a breeder that sells them as babies claim they all never had problems? The breeders experience would be far different than the homes that raised them into adulthood.

I think instead of each side trying to attack the other, they should try to work together to identify risk factors and see just what the risk even is. By keeping contact with their new homes, potential husbandry and stress issues that may otherwise cause a healthy animal to lose control can be prevented. There is far too much finger pointing currently breeders get alot of undue flack, and because of it, seem to dismiss any criticism pretty quickly. Theres no data, cant we as a community do something to fix this? Thats just my thought. When we turn against eachother it just gives those against the hobby that much more ammunition to take our rights away.


By your logic here, then everyone who stopped breeding Desert females based on the observable experiences of other breeders would have not had a valid opinion. Dog breeders would have to have bred dogs with hip dysplasia in order to have a valid stance against them. I don’t see anyone saying that, though.

Ultimately it’s fairly clear that very few of you took the time to fully read my original posts, because my response to pretty much every rebuttal that has been presented was covered in my original post. I made my points, and I made them well. While I appreciate good faith discussion, I have no interest in continuing to engage in a discussion when the only objective of folks here seems to be to tell me why my opinion isn’t valid (which, I’d like to note, I have not done to those here). That’s certainly an opinion you are welcome to, but your opinion doesn’t in this case make mine any less valid. Ultimately all I can hope is that some folks who are on the fence might see my responses and consider their validity, and if my attempt to educate convinces even one person to think twice about breeding these morphs, then I’m happy. I won’t physically or legally stop those who want to breed them from doing so. I also won’t stop advocating for stronger consideration of our animals’ welfare. The prices of animals with the spider gene are already decreasing, and fewer and fewer breeders are working with them. I hope that the hobby continues moving in this direction, but ultimately all I can do is advocate and educate, which I thoroughly enjoy and will absolutely continue to do.


That’s not true there is over 2000 spider/spider combos for sale on MorphMarket right now. It’s by far one of the most worked with gene among breeders.