I’m returning to Ball Pythons after a break of maybe 15 years and I’m getting my head around the new traits there are to choose from. My dilemma is simple; am I buying genes or looks? If there are two snakes with the same gene combo but one is prettier and more expensive, which do I buy? Hence my ‘genes or looks’ question. Do pretty babies go on to produce prettier offspring OR are the genes more important. I know the two snakes I’m considering will end up looking very similar but, now there is a difference as babies.
I think price is driven 90%+ by the morphs and a lot of buyers will buy the morphs by name without looking at the expression in the snake. But the overall qualities do tend to get passed on too, so personally I’ll pay a bit more for examples that fit my preference or plans.
I’d buy the prettier one hoping for pretty babies.
I think the biggest thing to consider is the quality of the morph. You can have some animals that are very low expression of a morph, and animals that are a great representation of the morph.
I’d happily pay more for a good representation of a morph, than less for one that just has the morph. It’s like the saying quality in = quality out.
My take on looks vs genes. At a show, people arent stopping to look at animals because they saw “clown” written on the enclosure, they see an animal that catches their eye. That said, when I buy for certain genes I am looking for a particular expression or visual that aligns with what I want represented in the babies that I produce. There is no guarantee that certain visual traits will pass on, but in a lot of cases that does happen. If you are looking to sell exclusively to breeders then genetics might be more of a focus but even then getting a good visual line is important (IMO). If you look at Kinova, his combos of the same genes compared to other breeder combos in many cases are night and day difference. That is why he gets the premium price and (IMO) why he has been so successful.
But, at the end of the day there is no guarantee you will sell the babies so might as well make animals that look so good you want to keep them.
There is an old adage: GIGO - Garbage In, Garbage Out
When I am selecting an animal to add into my colony, if I have the option of choice (dealing with rarer species sometimes means you take whatever you can get), I will always go with the higher quality option