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Genetics, Taxonomy, Hybridization General discussions about the science of genetics as well as the ever changing face of taxonomy. Issues concerning hybridization are welcome here as well.

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Old 11-17-2022, 10:41 PM   #1
Is kinking genetic?

I saw an ad for a snake that had some tail kinks and was offered as a pet only for a good deal. The seller said that this snake should NOT be bred. It got me wondering... I thought that kinks in snakes was more of a development issue in the egg. Maybe associated with temperature? I am NOT a breeder. I am just wondering. Can spinal or tail kinking be genetically passed on to offspring?
Old 11-18-2022, 12:48 PM   #2
Certain ball python morphs are associated with kinking so yes it can be genetic.

When breeding you pair the best to the best and hope for the best. A kinked critter is not a breeder.
Old 11-19-2022, 02:22 PM   #3
When I bred leopard geckos, the same idea existed in that community (and still does). I bred a bunch of kinked to kinked to test this out and I was not able to generate kinked animals. I do not recall now exactly how far I took those generations aside from one animal's lineage (and taking care of a heap of animals like this over years ends up quite the pain in the cloaca with the level of fecundity involved), but I could not generate evidence supporting kinks to generally be genetic for that species as had been (and still is) asserted by many and I tend to default to the stance of developmental defects being more common than genetically-governed anatomical defects. I do know at least one of my finest self-produced flawless animals ended up arising from this exercise (and that animal's subsequent lineage kept producing stunners until I left that corner of the hobby).

My time in ball python breeding was super short and I kept my collection ultra-refined and small to keep my workload and costs down, so I never had anything "off" to repeat this sort of effort with BPs (nor would I have; I was burning out as a keeper pretty hard at that time).

I agree with best to best as a matter of general principle in selective breeding. I operate a number of my tortoise morph projects on the basis of generational refinement despite it ending up losing me potential income (I gave up approximately five to seven years of income from one high-end project simply from trying to transition the color tone from yellow predominance to more oranges and reds within the same specific locality), so I live and breathe best to best in ways people on the outside do not have any idea of unless I reveal things, BUT I also see enough instances of particular conditions leading to physical quirks and defects. I see wild aquatic turtles producing Salvador Dali art pieces for a portion of babies. I see such babies producing totally normal babies under honed incubation conditions as they become adults. I see occasional tiny eggs from tortoises having the same egg shell thickness of larger eggs and the combination of incubation conditions plus this factor of gas exchange through a normal shell thickness with a reduced egg volume having a higher frequency of weird defects. Fluctuations of temperature and humidity/hydration are obvious factors impacting defect potential for any reptile egg's embryo. There is also sometimes the matter of nutritional status of the female and how that led to a downstream effect of yolk quality in any given egg. Yolk quality is a majorly underestimated factor in the quality of the health and form of the neonates one gets. A good friend sees this effect in his latter-season eggs/hatchlings. His feeding practices are conventional with some boosts. My general feeding practices tend to be more aggressive when it comes to Calories, macronutrients, and micronutrients for my own laying females in my favorite projects, so I do not suffer from a waning yolk resource effect. Back to relevance, in a given egg with inferior donation of resources (which you usually cannot observe as a keeper outside of certain circumstances), you could easily have that influence the quality of a hatchling's form without there being a genetic cause that would pose a hereditary threat to utility as a future breeder as long as the animal can grow robust enough over the years. This is simply another angle to consider.

Just as a lot of dietary recommendations for chelonians are playing it safe to the point of exclusionary lies (many "cannot" feed items are fine either entirely or fine in moderation - a meal is not the same thing as an entire diet) simply because they are cases of people parroting others, I feel a certain way about these topics. If you really want to learn the answers to particular questions, you will find the strongest answers through the experience of testing them. For the general community, it is fine to follow parroted guidelines because they avoid the edges of what is known. They walk a trodden path that is safe for the inexperienced and less than sure-footed neophyte. That, however, does not make the guidelines full truth, but rather a cross-sectional slice of a larger truth. For some, that is satisfactory (and it is perfectly okay to follow that). For me, it is not and I want to know more. I am especially against labeling the unknown as wrong because it does not fit within the margins of that cross-section slice. That does not limit one keeper. It places mental shackles on other keepers. An example of this would be the feeding of toxic-to-mammal mushrooms to forest-dwelling chelonians. I do. Mine thrive. How did I find out that this works? By allowing them to try. Was there a risk to the unknown? Yes. But now it has become a safe known. And because my animals and I took the risk, now others have that known in their repertoire of dietary options. Do I urge people to feed these? No. I feel it most responsible of myself to only provide the example of what I have done and learned from it. So it also goes for "common knowledge" regarding other topics (circling back to kinks and so on).

You will be absolutely fine to avoid working with kinks. That is the path that risks nothing. You might learn something new by working with kinks. There could be an opportunity cost involved with avoiding working with particular kinked animals. You will not know for sure unless you make an exercise of testing the hypothesis. In all of this, please keep in mind that I am not talking about defects that have become statistically linked to occurring with greater frequency in particular morphs. Rather, I mean the more random examples that have no known or clearly defined association. It becomes a case of the doer alone learneth, which I find valuable as information when I can afford to risk a poor outcome. That is the thing. You have to go in without expectations of a positive outcome if you spend the resources to roughly test an idea. Either way, though, you earn some knowledge via the consequence. It all comes down to what you can afford to sacrifice in the case of an undesirable result, but that is how knowledge is gained either way.
Old 11-19-2022, 03:11 PM   #4
Thanks Melinda and Nickolas for your thoughtful responses. Nickolas, your response was WAY thoughtful. I'm glad we has this forum to explore questions like this. About three years ago, I started back into the snake hobby. Again, I am NOT a breeder, but more of a collector and occasional knowledge seeker. I enjoy participating in thought provoking conversations.
So, one of the first snakes I bought years ago was a baby female Boa Constrictor Longicauda. I was not then, and am still not interested in breeding her. She had a small kink in the tip of her tail. She is a little over three years old now and has grown out of her kink (It was slight to begin with). Her tail IS stubbier than normal I believe, but no longer is crooked. She is beautiful and healthy in every way other than her slightly stubby tail. So... is this a snake that should NOT be bred in the future if I change my mind? As far as I can remember, none of the others from her clutch had kinks.
And by extension, If you have a beautiful, healthy pair of snakes that produce healthy babies, but a slight kink shows upon occasion, do you stop breeding that pair? Just wondering what people think.
Old 11-19-2022, 04:41 PM   #5
I purchase animals specifically for breeding and I'm very picky about them. So, in the case of your boa, that's not a critter I would have purchased as a breeder, it would have been pet-only.

Also some breeders will sell critters with slight imperfections as pet-quality for a reduced price with a non-breeding first right of refusal before resale contract. I'm assuming that isn't the case with your boa.

IMO the random clutch or littermate with an imperfection isn't a reason to stop using a particular pairing.

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