I’m looking into adding Leopard to our Ball Python collection to try to breed some Leopard Freeways (probably will be looking for a Leopard Yellow Belly or Leopard Ivory). So I’ve been looking at TONS of Leopards on MM to try to get an idea of what sort of Leopard I like the best. I really like the ones with the wildest patterns, with lots of big “holes” in super scrambled alien heads! But then I got to wondering - is an individual Leopard’s pattern based solely on the line of Leopard you have? Maybe it’s more complicated than that? If I buy a Leopard with big “holes” and a super scrambled pattern, will all of its Leopard babies have a similar look? Or are there other things (aside from other pattern-altering morphs, obviously) at play?? Like maybe the snake’s base “normal” pattern genetics influence what kind of design the Leopard morph creates?
Does that even make sense? Once again I’m finding myself struggling to put my ideas into words.
But if anybody understands what I’m trying to say, and has some experience with breeding pattern-altering morphs, I would love to understand a bit better!
There are all kinds of leopards out there. It sounds like you are partial to the ones where the pattern is clearly disrupted and twisted. If you get an animal like that, then it is a pretty good bet that many of its offspring will have similar characteristics. I wouldn’t start with a low expression Leopard. Get the one that looks most like what you desire. That said, this is nature so there are still going to be some animals that may be a milder expression of the leopard. It’s kind of like Pied in that a medium white Pied may throw other medium white Pieds, but it may also throw low white or high white as well.
I hope that answers your question.,
For the most part, baby snakes tend to look like their parents. So if you buy a leopard with a look you like you will likely get more of the same! However, it also depends on what you breed it to. Results can vary dramatically when pairing the same snake with a different male or female.
It sounds like you like your leopards on the busy side, so it might be a good idea to avoid pairing any leopard(s) you get with pattern reducers like enchi, blade, and tiger. I say this because, for some lines of these genes, the pattern reduction associated with them can extend to the entire clutch. For example, I have a lot of enchi stuff with a lovely reduced pattern, but it does affect the entire clutch. So even normals and other morphs have come out with a reduced pattern when bred to some of my enchis.
On the flip side, some of my busier females tend to produce busy babies even when bred with my enchis. I’ve produced leopards with a wide variety of looks solely because of the variety of patterns within my collection. What you pair them with makes a big difference!
Polygenic traits aren’t widely talked about with ball pythons, but things like the business or reduction of pattern can certainly be line bred for, so you’ll want to be mindful of that if there’s a particular look you’re going for.
That is just what I was looking to learn - thank you! So if I understood correctly, it sounds like a snake’s individual “normal” pattern and color controlling genes heavily influence how the morphs express themselves. That makes sense. So with certain very nice lines of morphs, it’s not necessarily that the morph genes themselves are different - it’s the other genes in the snake that mix differently with the morph genes? Am I on the right track? So a very light Pastel is very light not because it has a different variety of the Pastel morph, but because of how it’s other genetics mix with Pastel? Like maybe if you removed the Pastel morph from this snake, it would be a very light sort of normal?
If that is correct, I suppose I can assume that if I bought a very busy Leopard and bred it to, say, a pretty average normal, the normal babies from the pairing would likely have a busier pattern than their normal parent. Or if I had an Enchi with a heavily reduced pattern, its normal babies would likely have a slightly reduced pattern.
Did I get that all right?
So if I find a nice busy Leopard, and I want busy Leopard babies, I should pair it with other more busy-patterned snakes and my chances will be good - correct?
I have said it before in various places but, beyond the simple Mendelian genetics that everyone in the hobby is passingly familiar with, collections as a whole tend to be “genetic”. There are ~30,000 genes in these animals in addition to the one or two or however many blatant morph genes we have in any given pairing. We all have our own specific likes/dislikes in how our animals look so we tend to hold back those that most closely match our personal preferences. The genes responsible for those specific looks tend to become enriched in our individual collections over time. For example, I have a predilection toward stripes, so most of the animals in my collection are striped and tend to throw striped babies. I still get random oddballs but I can usually pinpoint the ‘why’ of those (one of my holdbacks from a couple seasons ago has a very defined bald-back, but that is because it carries both Enchi and OD and I have been selecting for examples of those that are more patterned on the laterals which pulls away form back stripes)
Wow, thank you very much! More great information. This forum is awesome!!
You’ve reminded me of something else I was wondering about recently - while I was looking at Leopards I came across one with a backstripe that was labeled a “Striped Leopard.” It was the only one I saw labeled this way, and all the other single morph Leopards had no backstripe, so it got me wondering if whether it was misidentified, or if striping on Leopards was just incredibly rare. Do you happen to know?
Stripes on Leos happens fairly frequently, especially in certain combinations