Unscrupulous Selling of Defective Animals

So I will pose it to the community on what I should do. It is clear I have been sold a very expensive snake that produces largely deformed or questionable animals. The snake was bred to two different females and both clutches were/are disasters. The male in question was sold as a proven breeder, therefore the Seller had to be aware of the train wreck of a clutch this guy produces. Before I call this person out, I know for a fact that there were several adult females of the same combo or at least visual and het combos for the same genes that were sold at the same time to other buyers, the least expensive of which was about $2,500, and mine which was $4,500. So there are a couple of things to discuss here.

First question is, does anyone believe there is any legal recourse for those of us that were duped by this Seller?

Second question is, what is the ethical thing to do going forward.

I’ll start with my thoughts on the second item. I have a snake that I am confident should never be bred again. I have several offspring that appear to be alright, but armed with the knowledge I have now, I don’t believe should go back into the gene pool. So. do I euthanize everything and take my losses. Do I euthanize the obviously defective animals, and sell as pets, the animals that appear to be alright? Without proving them out, I do not know if the offspring will produce defective babies, but I do have every reason to believe they could. Also, I have little doubt that if I sell the visual double recessive male and babies to be a pets only, that someone equally as unscrupulous as the original Seller, could easily put them into their rotation and only sell the animals that appear viable. This is a bitter pill to swallow but I am willing to fall on my sword for the sake of my reputation and this hobby/industry.

Thoughts?

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I’m curious to what genes are at play and what the pairings were that created disasters and what those issues are. It’s too vague

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1: As far as legal recourse that would fall to you being able to prove that this breeder knowingly sold you a defective male.

  • I would talk to breeder and see if they had any previous issues and if you have any idea of who bought the other animals from the same clutch if they are having any of the same issues. You could also talk to breeder and just let them know what you experienced and try again next season and see if you have the same issues.

  • Were the females you used any way genetically similar, ex: same genes, or from the same clutch

  • I have a pairing were the male and female had never had any issues with deformities before but together just don’t mesh, so speak.

  • is there any possiblity of incubation issues? temp spikes, ect?

  • Were these the only 2 females you paired him to and was this the first time you paired him?

2: With the offspring, honestly this is always a tough question. You can give them away as “pets” but you then run the risk of them still being used as breeders. It is up to you if you would want to risk that possiblity.

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If the seller knowingly sold you a defective animal without disclosing it then you could ask for a refund but it would be hard to prove that they knowingly sold you a defective animal. If they unknowingly sold you a defective animal then you likely wouldn’t get a refund (a decent seller should, but it wouldn’t be required) since that’s the risk you run with working with live animals. Your best bet would be to see if other people had the same problem and if it was repeating (and that they knew it was a problem but didn’t disclose it). If that’s the case bring it up with MorphMarket support and see if there’s anything they can do.
I stand by the statement “don’t produce anything you aren’t willing to keep for the rest of its life”, it’s highly unethical to euthanize anything if it still has a quality of life. I would see if you can find someone who is looking for a pet snake (someone who wouldn’t have any interest in breeding) or keep them and/or use them for educational programs.

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The male is a visual Clown Pied. He was bred to a Ghost het Pied female which I purchased from a breeder whom I feel is beyond reproach, and an Ivory female I produced myself. I produced five clutches this year. The only two with deformities were both sired by this male and different females with different genes and origins. The deformities are anything from a cleft upper lip, shark mouth, still birth, to as severe as looking in the egg and seeing something that looked tubular like a snake, but the heart beating outside of the body. Out of the first clutch of 5 eggs, only two appear normal, and one had the cleft lip and the other two I euthanized as they could not exist outside the egg. The second clutch had 8 eggs. So far only one has come out that appears to be fairly normal. I cut the rest and can see 1 that is still born, there at least 4 with shark mouth and one exhibiting corkscrewing. the other two I have not been able to discern yet what, if anything is good or bad with them. Statistically this cannot be an anomaly. As he was sold as a proven breeder, either the Seller knew this, or lied about him being a proven breeder, either of which is deceptive in nature and therein lies the proof.

I cannot contact the breeder as they have gone dormant on this site, have no animals for sale, and won’t return any attempts to contact. I do know that there were three female subadults that were Pied het for Clown that the Seller also sold on this site. I have no way of knowing if the others have had issues unless I name the Seller and see if the others would come forward and share their experiences, if they were able to breed or did in fact have any issues. All of the females were right at about 1300 to 1500 grams so they could have been ready to breed for the 21 season.

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I would not consider it unethical to euthanize an animal that cannot eat to survive on its own. Most of the defects will likely prevent the animals from being able to feed properly without assist feeding. The actual male I did not produce and therefore have no responsibility for as far as keeping alive. It would be unethical to do anything with these animals that would knowingly put these genes back into the gene pool to further call into question the practices of ball python breeding.

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If they have major problems feeding and don’t have a quality of life (I’ll leave that judgement up to you) I don’t see an ethical problem in euthanizing.

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Just quick FYI that you can’t do that on this forum, but there are other places online where you could pursue that avenue.

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I’m sorry to hear about the babies. Definitely if quantity of life is not possible culling is the most humane option.

As for the male. A pet quality home would seem the best option but unfortunately you can’t guarantee that someone wouldn’t try to breed him at some point. Disclosing all of this information to the home would be best so they are discouraged from doing so.

As for compensation, unfortunately proving that the breeder knowingly did it is he said/she said. Yes if it is truly the male that is the issue and he is proven then they likely do know. But you can’t prove it.

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Anytime you are incubating eggs anything can cause an abnormality.

Again the burder of proof would still be on you. You would have to be able to show that A: the male was not proven breeder or B: that he had known prior to selling to you, by either posts that he had made or had said something prior about the male being defective (but even that would be considered hearsay)
Having 2 clutches with deformities isn’t necessarily 100% proof of the male being the issue.

As Marla stated you could always just simply ask if on one of the FBI forums on facebook if anyone has done business with the seller and ask if they have had any issue with their stock from the breeder.
Also contact MorphMarket support and see if they have any way of getting you in contact with the seller.

Have you tried contacting them thru their facebook page (personal or business)

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I realize that things can go wrong with incubation. But when you use the same incubator for 5 clutches, and there is no issues with clutches 1, 3, and 4, and severe issues with clutches #2 and #5. Then its seems a fair assumption to rule out the incubator as the variable. Since the females couldn’t be more removed from one another than the fact they are both ball pythons, it seems fair to eliminate that as a variable as well.
Caveat emptor to be sure, but I think the evidence is mounting in a direction that while circumstantial, still tips the preponderance of proof my way.

I have reached out to staff here and will do as instructed.

Using my previous purchase link through this site, it will no longer even connect to a store. Their FB page has not had a single post by them since Nov of 20. I purchased this guy and the others were sold in Oct of 20.

What responsibility do we have as members of this industry, to expose wrong doing, especially where it could have long term effects on the industry?

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Just because you had no issues with those other clutches still does not rule out and incubation issue. Spikes in temps from one shelf to another, change in air flow, having more eggs in one tub vs another, humidity, ect all can cause issues.

You can even get deformities from one clutches not another from doing the same pairing from one year to the next. I had done a pairing from an albino spider x albino several years in a row with zero issues one year got an entire clutch of severe shark mouth, next year no issues, following year kinks in a couple.

If you took them to small claims court i don’t think you have enough evidence to prove that they knowling sold you an animal with defects. It your job to show burden of proof in small claims.

You have the option of posting it to the FBI Forums on facebook and see what shakes loose from it. Any reputuable breeder would more than likely do the right thing if they did any wrong doing, especially if they want to continue in the industry.

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I agree with @wreckroomsnakes. I’m truly sorry for the string of bad luck you’ve had with this male, but I am strongly skeptical that the male had anything to do with the malformations of the hatchlings. The chances of what you’re describing as being genetic are extremely slim. There are just too many different malformations, while individually may have a genetic predisposition in humans, collectively they are not genetically interlinked, at least in humans (which we have fully sequenced the genome of).

Where were the clutches located in the incubator? Did you move the tubs around during incubation? This sounds like a temperature spike or incubating at too-hot temperatures.

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@wreckroomsnakes I could not agree with you more.

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A question if I may - Have all of the animals in these faulty clutches been female?

Not that I encourage breeding deformed babies. But an old rules of three saying is that, two is a coincidence, three is a pattern. There just is so many other factors that come into play breeding.

Without trying him with different females, and then the possibility of an incubation issue, like basically everyone else has said, it could be just really sucky luck.

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These issues reported are usually incubation issues? Or am I wrong. It could be where the deformed ones were in the incubator making their conditions Slighly different then the others. It would be impossible to prove the seller knew anything was wrong with the male.

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Of the two clutches, the first clutch only had two snakes that appear fairly normal. One was a male Normal triple het for Pied/Ghost/Clown, and the second was a female Pied dbl het for Ghost/Clown. There is a third snake that lived with the cleft upper jaw and skinny body. It is a male Pied dbl het for Ghost/Clown. The other two weren’t even what I would call formed snakes so I didn’t consider checking gender.

On the second clutch, 3 were dead in the egg and I never thought to sex them. A fourth had emerged but was shark jawed and cork screwing so badly while still in the egg, that I chose to cull it. Again, I did not check gender. Of the four left, two left their eggs of their own accord. One appears fairly normal, the other has a shark mouth. The other two had not left there eggs as of this morning which was over 50 hours since I cut, and I cut after the first viable snake had left the egg on its own. When I checked, their yolk sacs were absorbed, so I removed them from the egg shell. Neither appear to be normal in their locomotion and both are shark mouth. I have not checked any of their genders yet. I may, but I don’t think given the results of the first clutch that there is any data to be gleaned by the gender.

I would agree. But I was hoping to somehow reach the other Buyers to see if they had any issue, thereby negating any reason for me to propagate another nightmare clutch. Short of that, I may try one more before I determine the male’s fate, but the data that I have leans overwhelmingly in the direction of the male being the issue. I mean all things considered, sometimes you have to just go with Occam’s Razor.

The thing about this being an incubation issue that seems unlikey is, the incubator is a repurposed wine cooler with an inside dimension of about 3’ X 2’ X 2’. There is a fan circulating the air. I had two accurite thermometers in there both that have the additional probe so I had four readings from different locations that never showed a variation of more than a degree, and never to my knowledge rose above 88 degrees. I have used it for dozens of clutches over 8 years and have never had so much as a kinked tail. I have used the same tub setup always. The other three clutches in the same incubator, under the same influences, during at the same time hatched without incident. The first disaster clutch was #2 meaning it went in to the incubator second and came out second. It was bookended by two perfect clutches. The second disaster clutch was clutch #5 which means it followed two perfect clutches being #3 and #4. Again, Occam’s Razor does not point me towards the incubator.

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