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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Why hasn’t the exotics hobby developed a studbook or pedigree system?

Could this not support the long term viability of captive populations of species?

How could the hobby go about developing a system or to trace breeding?

What are the gains and costs of investing in such?

Morally, ethically, or for practical reasons, should we be considering such methods going forward?

Evidently some leading questions, but am really interested in current thinking, who has already been there/done that, what insights were gained, whether there is an appetite to pursue this.

Andy
 

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Why hasn’t the exotics hobby developed a studbook or pedigree system?

Could this not support the long term viability of captive populations of species?

How could the hobby go about developing a system or to trace breeding?

What are the gains and costs of investing in such?

Morally, ethically, or for practical reasons, should we be considering such methods going forward?

Evidently some leading questions, but am really interested in current thinking, who has already been there/done that, what insights were gained, whether there is an appetite to pursue this.

Andy
Andy, can you elaborate ?

From my limited knowledge "pedigree" is a pure linage... But with the current trend of morphs that is the total opposite... Most of the royal morphs of single gene could be a pedigree... tracing back the linage to the first imports, but as soon as you breed one of these single gene snakes with a different then it's no longer a single linage.

In terms of trace breeding, if you mean to be able to trace the linage through generations, then it depends on individuals ability to maintain records. Most of the snakes I have, the breeders kept records, I keep records, but I have no control over the offspring I sell from breeding my snakes for this to be maintained. One of the hatchlings may go to a keeper who continues with the recording of data on the snake, including any offspring it produces if bred, but it could equally just be kept a pet with no records maintained.

Personally I can't see it happening....the only thing we can say is that every royal with Pastel came form one of two "lines" from two different breeders who came across two from wild caught imports. Same for Lesser, and Pied, and possibly most of the other single gene snakes. However when new genes were first proven it was fairly easy to credit that gene with the originator. These days with so many breeders worldwide, its impossible to say who is the first to produce a XYZ with 8 genes !
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hey Malc & Tom,

As always, you two are often good contributors, even when the forum seems a bit lethargic since the ’upgrade’.

What do you think are the reasons that the zoo world dislikes the exotics hobby?

Malc, I suppose when I used the term ‘pedigree‘, I meant the term more generally, as in recording inherited pedigree, or family tree, as opposed to ‘dog breed pedigree‘ to maintain ‘pure’ lines.

I see limited benefit in being able to credit who started a particular line of morphs (this serves ego more than anything else?), and more interested in our capacity for plotting wider genetic traits/ diversity than particular genes.

Good record keeping perhaps reflects the more dedicated enthusiasts! It is easy to lose or misplace records, and so could there be an incentive to register individuals kept and pairings?

What I am wondering is whether there might be appetite for some system of registering and tracking breeding of captive species, and how this might benefit the hobby Populations.

If so, could this allow gathering of useful health data, such as harmful inheritable conditions, encourage screening before breeding attempted. Root out mis represented specimens or pairings. Identify when we are leading to genetic bottle necking.

I am guessing a lot of captive pairings come down to limits of chance and opportunity of what’s available, maybe breeders networking skills, rather than selecting which pairings might produce the most vigour.

I don’t actually keep any Royals, but as the hobby is hopefully diversifying it’s focus, I would also hope we could take a longer term approach, and consider our legacy, more than just short to medium term gains.

I come from a risk adverse/risk assessing background, and this undoubtedly feeds into why I am concerned about what, we as a hobby, are gambling on, and how we might improve on this.

Thoughts?

Andy
 

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Hey Malc & Tom,

As always, you two are often good contributors, even when the forum seems a bit lethargic since the ’upgrade’.

What do you think are the reasons that the zoo world dislikes the exotics hobby?
I have no idea, and didn't know about the professional side disliking the armature side of the "hobby". Could be to do with the lack of any control over what is kept when a DWA isn't required. There is nothing to stop me going out and owning a retic that could get 20+ feet, be beyond my ability to mange, and be kept in an inadequate enclosure in a small three bed house. It could be down to the way the media always use a stereotypical keeper, bald headed male with or without a goatee bearded, tattooed and full of piecing's... with a boa around their necks... This image can give the wrong impression, especially as those individuals are some of the politest, kindest and knowledgeable individuals in the field, but that's not what the public see.

Malc, I suppose when I used the term ‘pedigree‘, I meant the term more generally, as in recording inherited pedigree, or family tree, as opposed to ‘dog breed pedigree‘ to maintain ‘pure’ lines.
Right, I see. For me maintaining any linage of a snakes parents is only useful to the breeder, especially if the hatchlings they produce are being held back. The only other time is if the new owner of one of my hatchlings continues the trend and maintains records including the family tree. I can trace my BELs tree back to her grandparents on her fathers side as the person I purchased him from kept data in an note book, which included the names of the dame and sire. But whilst I could pass on that same info to anyone who purchased one of my hatchlings, the tree could end there if they are not bothered about record keeping, or just want a pet and have no intention to breed from it.

I see limited benefit in being able to credit who started a particular line of morphs (this serves ego more than anything else?), and more interested in our capacity for plotting wider genetic traits/ diversity than particular genes.
I think that stems when there was a handful of morphs proven out. I don't have the exact figures, by today the list of morphs in Royals is fast approaching 8000. With that in mind, chances are someone somewhere will have more chances of producing world "firsts" especially as there are snakes with 6 or 7 genes in them, and in a combo that my only already exist in their collection. What's more upsetting is the devaluation, both in monetary terms and in appeal of the "wild" natural patterned snake. We've seen it with Corns and also with Royals... people couldn't give away basic normal natural base genes wild types. I paid £90 for a wild (captive farmed) royal hatchling in 1990. Seven / eight years later the first pieds came out...and the price tag was astronomical (as were most early singe gene morphs when proven). Back then it was easy to plot the traits, who's bloodline they were etc.... now that's really difficult to do. I wouldn't have a clue who produced the first clown, or the first leopard royal....

Good record keeping perhaps reflects the more dedicated enthusiasts! It is easy to lose or misplace records, and so could there be an incentive to register individuals kept and pairings?
I disagree. I started keeping paper records from the first day of owning my first snake as I found that side of the hobby fascinating and helpful. Granted it would be possible to misplace the record book, but that's down to the individual. My book sat on top of the vivs so I knew where it was. In latter years I've used PC applications, and now I'm involved in the testing and development of Reptiware, having formed a good friendship with the developer in Canada. Earlier this year my boa had a hard time with the breeding season and developed an RI. Being able to print of reports on when the snake last fed, the weight and size of the meal, when he last defecated / urinated, what his environmental conditions have been over the past months, his weight, and length helped the vet immensely. She didn't have to ask all the questions, she could see the data for herself.

Reptiware retains the data locally, not in the cloud. There are reasons for this, and backups can be stored on cloud services such as google drive or dropbox. One option we cater for is the ability to add fields including micro-chip data. Now currently there are no requirements other than for a CITES I reptile to be microchipped. But if that changed then you have your registration of all reptiles kept, provided the keepers comply. It's been law that since 2016 all dogs must be microchipped, but I bet there are still some breeders who don't bother, so the register fails.


What I am wondering is whether there might be appetite for some system of registering and tracking breeding of captive species, and how this might benefit the hobby Populations.

If so, could this allow gathering of useful health data, such as harmful inheritable conditions, encourage screening before breeding attempted. Root out mis represented specimens or pairings. Identify when we are leading to genetic bottle necking.
I can't see that happening for the reasons I've already mentioned. If you have a reputable law abiding breeder then yes they would comply with the requirements. But what about the small hobbyist who just wants to breed for the fun or it, or to raise a few hundred quid to cover the running costs...I couldn't see them complying with it, especially as there no doubt would be a cost involved. You just reported that you paid £46+VAT per snake to have a test done for a deadly disease that Boa's carry. If was a requirement to have every hatchling tested as part of the chipping and registration process, then you as the breeder will want to recoup the registration cost. Now lets say the cots are £100 to have the test done, a vets consultation and the snake chipped. That would place a bog standard normal wild type royal around the £120 as a minimum.... It would make a single gene lesser or pastel or spider £150. Would people pay this. If it were retail, the costs would be higher...£170 for wild type normal.... Nah can see that happening.

You mentioned mis represented specimens... the only way to confirm what genes the snakes are would be a DNA test. Now I don't know if this service is offered to the public, but if it is then again it wouldn't be cheap. Now it would be retrospective. If you wanted to prove that the £10,000 you are about to pay out for a 7 gene hatchling royal dos indeed have those 7 genes and the cost is a grand then you may well feel that is value for money. But then when you breed that snake to another 5 or 6 gene snake, you will have to pay out again to provide that certificate of authentication, in order to get the £20,0000 price tag you are offering them at.... I certainly wouldn't be able to afford such a test to prove the BEL produced form my super lesser / pastave enchi has all the genes in it, or if pastel is missing... its a white snake....


I am guessing a lot of captive pairings come down to limits of chance and opportunity of what’s available, maybe breeders networking skills, rather than selecting which pairings might produce the most vigour.
I think its down to ego and money. There are still those who want to be credited with the first to breed a 7 or 8 gene combo, and then to reap the rewards such a snake can command.

As for being selective, I fell in love with blue eyed lucy's when I first saw one in a magazine... but at a telephone number price tag knew I would never be able to buy one. So I went about buying the hatchling snakes with the genes to make one, paying the going rate at the time of £225 for a hatchling Lesser... I finally hit the odds in 2019 and got a female BEL. In that year BELs were still commanding £400 - £600, something that was still out of my reach at the time. I think there are still those breeders who follow the same approach. The produce the £10,000 seven gene hatchling that one of the famous and renowned breeders produce, as they can't afford one at todays prices. But at what cost.... breeding animals too soon...(I waited until my snakes were 3 years old, some are pairing with males that have yet to turn 1)... line breeding... (although most feel that there is little chance of less quality or health issue when inbreeding reptiles )


I don’t actually keep any Royals, but as the hobby is hopefully diversifying it’s focus, I would also hope we could take a longer term approach, and consider our legacy, more than just short to medium term gains.

I come from a risk adverse/risk assessing background, and this undoubtedly feeds into why I am concerned about what, we as a hobby, are gambling on, and how we might improve on this.

Thoughts?

Andy
 

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It's an interesting subject.
Central Scotland reptiles on here I believe would be able to make some valuable contributions to this thread.
I think part of the problem is that some species of reptile are so easy to breed and accessible that it would be impossible to facilitate.
One of the benefits with morphs is that the search for new mutations encourages fresh bloodlines into the hobby, you can also have an idea of the lineage of animal by the genes that it carries I think where the need for studbooks etc is at it's greatest in the hobby is species where bloodlines are extremely limited such as Australian species, San fran garters, Angolan pythons etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Perhaps the hobby places too much emphasis on visual morphs. Visual morphs then being assumed to be an indicator of genetic diversity.
This neglects that genes are not necessarily linked to visual characteristics.

I am hopeful that as demand and economies of scale bring down the cost, we will see greater use of technologies for DNA sequencing, and ideally this will be applied even to hobby populations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I was not aware of Reptiware, but will take a look.

Reptiware retains the data locally, not in the cloud. There are reasons for this, and backups can be stored on cloud services such as google drive or dropbox. One option we cater for is the ability to add fields including micro-chip data. Now currently there are no requirements other than for a CITES I reptile to be microchipped. But if that changed then you have your registration of all reptiles kept, provided the keepers comply. It's been law that since 2016 all dogs must be microchipped, but I bet there are still some breeders who don't bother, so the register fails.
I suppose some people will always circumvent, not adhere, or undermine systems (whether good or bad); is that a reason not to pursue one. I was willing and reassured to have our sprocker spaniel microchipped by the breeder when we bought her 5 years ago.
would I object to similar kinds of checks and balances with my exotics? Perhaps not/depends.

Increasing the monetary value of all exotic pets, and costs associated with providing a home for them, could improve stewardship and welfare considerations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I appreciate you taking the time to bash out some figures, but wondering if the scenarios over estimate costs.
Could screen the litter as one sample?
Perhaps possible to screen parents thoroughly and just not breed from carriers?

Say we had to pay £200 per animal (25 hrs at £8 per hour, roughly 2 1/2 days working for an animal, give or take. Some people on less, some on more, many with variable levels of disposable income).
Do you feel that £200 is an untenable cost to outlay?

“I can't see that happening for the reasons I've already mentioned. If you have a reputable law abiding breeder then yes they would comply with the requirements. But what about the small hobbyist who just wants to breed for the fun or it, or to raise a few hundred quid to cover the running costs...I couldn't see them complying with it, especially as there no doubt would be a cost involved. You just reported that you paid £46inclVAT per snake to have a test done for a deadly disease that Boa's carry. If was a requirement to have every hatchling tested as part of the chipping and registration process, then you as the breeder will want to recoup the registration cost. Now lets say the cots are £100 to have the test done, a vets consultation and the snake chipped. That would place a bog standard normal wild type royal around the £120 as a minimum.... It would make a single gene lesser or pastel or spider £150. Would people pay this. If it were retail, the costs would be higher...£170 for wild type normal.... Nah can’t see that happening.”
 

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One of the biggest issues in any scheme that is brought in, regardless of it being for reptiles or not is policing it. Even when the old dog licence was just 37p people still never obtained one. Granted it has only been a requirement in latter years that dogs are licenced and chipped by law, but even now there are still 1000's of unchipped and unlicensed dogs being owned. How can you manage that, other then police or officials scanning every dog they walk past in the parks.. and would they have a right to do that?

Another factor where costs are involved is where reptiles can be kept for such a small outlay.... Not saying this is right, and I'm not opening the viv vs rub debate, but I could pick up a cheap heat mat and dodgy thermostat off e-bay / amazon for £20 or so, then pop into wilko and get a plastic tub for a fiver and there ya go... less than £50 to set up an enclosure, heat it and plenty left over for a bulk pack of kitchen roll for substrate. If people have that approach, then there is no way they would pay out £200 for health checks and registration / chipping of the snake, even if it was compulsory.

Don't get me wrong, there are those reptile keepers who will throw hundreds of pounds at a suitable enclosure, ensure the best equipment is used to maintain the environment, and then would comply with any legal requirements.... to a point. I have a small collection of 9 snakes... but there is no way I would pay out £1800 to have then registered. And what happens when you have 30 baby roylas hatch out... or god forbid you breed retics when two clutches could see 100 new snakes.. £20K needed to comply with the requirements to have them chipped and registered (based on the £200 per snake / animal you quote above). If anything this would drive reptile breeding underground, or prevent people breeding them full stop. Thus supply drops and demand / prices increase...which can price out most people form the hobby.

Reptile keeping has always been done on the cheap. We have seen the posts over the years where people are shocked and moan about the outlay for thermostats and ceramics as they thought they could get away with keeping exotics on a 15w heat mat... then the fact that they have done the setup up as cheap as possible as they lack funds and then don't have the money to cover vet bills when the snake needs attention....Given this factor I can't see many, even with the resources, paying out for registration. It's different for dogs, as most people will typically have just one or two dogs, and with the legal requirement for microchipping in place, the infrastructure for data storage has been well established. I don't know the current price, but I think most vets chip a dog for around £30 with a direct link to the data centre to register the id, which is more affordable. Now if this was the same for reptiles, with pricing points for block chipping of 10 or more at a time, then it might be a viable option. It could well be that the same organisation used to log chipping data of dogs could be used as they have all the software and datacentres set up...
 

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I was not aware of Reptiware, but will take a look.
It's a free trial, so nothing to lose... we're working on the next release, but confidentiality precludes me from giving any details away....but the software is very customer focus and if a user has a particular practice that they feel would be worth including in the application we do our best to include that in a future build....
 

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Just for clarities sake, I think it bears mention that studbooks in a zoological setting are kept to help maintain healthy genetic diversity amongst a species that is being kept as close to the wild type as possible. Morphs are by their nature, are pretty much anathema to the whole concept.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
“One of the biggest issues in any scheme that is brought in, regardless of it being for reptiles or not is policing it. Even when the old dog licence was just 37p people still never obtained one. Granted it has only been a requirement in latter years that dogs are licenced and chipped by law, but even now there are still 1000's of unchipped and unlicensed dogs being owned. How can you manage that, other then police or officials scanning every dog they walk past in the parks.. and would they have a right to do that?”

You are not in favour of policing the hobby. I think I may be in agreement. But I can see a value in record keeping and traceability. A voluntary sign up system perhaps?


“Another factor where costs are involved is where reptiles can be kept for such a small outlay.... Not saying this is right, and I'm not opening the viv vs rub debate, but I could pick up a cheap heat mat and dodgy thermostat off e-bay / amazon for £20 or so, then pop into wilko and get a plastic tub for a fiver and there ya go... less than £50 to set up an enclosure, heat it and plenty left over for a bulk pack of kitchen roll for substrate. If people have that approach, then there is no way they would pay out £200 for health checks and registration / chipping of the snake, even if it was compulsory.”

I see nothing wrong with being thrifty, careful with purchases and making the most of available resources but I would personally not be encouraging anyone to take up pet keeping if they don’t have the means to cover costs.

“Don't get me wrong, there are those reptile keepers who will throw hundreds of pounds at a suitable enclosure, ensure the best equipment is used to maintain the environment, and then would comply with any legal requirements.... to a point. I have a small collection of 9 snakes... but there is no way I would pay out £1800 to have then registered.”

But Malc, you surely did not buy all 9 snakes in one go? Most keepers would buy one or a few at a time. We select and buy based on our desires and means. Besides, the microchip registration idea you brought up was just one means of identification; so consider other more economical options.

I really like where people construct a visual family tree of their breedings displaying photo images of parents, offspring etc.


“Reptile keeping has always been done on the cheap.”
?? By whom, and how so?

“We have seen the posts over the years where people are shocked and moan about the outlay for thermostats“
Perhaps the outcry is sometimes justified, if slapping a ‘reptile‘ label on a product or technology drastically increases the asking price, where comparable items in other sectors are priced more competitively? Thermostats being a good example.

“ and then don't have the money to cover vet bills when the snake needs attention....”
If we can’t afford a one off £200, then we won’t be able to cover any substantial vet bills.

The £200 figure I came up with, was just to provide a tester to think about what we might think an animal is worth to us.
I remember paying £65 for a ‘captive farmed‘ Royal python (when prices were £50-£100). It was a lot more than the £20-£25 for normal corn snakes, and I had to save up, but it was affordable.

“It's different for dogs, as most people will typically have just one or two dogs”;
I was under the impression that most exotic pet owners just have one or a few animals, and the larger collections are in the minority - would be interesting to survey this.

“Now if this was the same for reptiles, with pricing points for block chipping of 10 or more at a time, then it might be a viable option. It could well be that the same organisation used to log chipping data of dogs could be used as they have all the software and datacentres set up...”
Sounds more plausible 👍

So Malc, does your Repiware have any capabilities in regards to recording of breeding and lineages?
 

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So Malc, does your Repiware have any capabilities in regards to recording of breeding and lineages?
Yes there is a dedicated linage tab within the reptiles record. In addition to recording and reporting the pairing events (introductions, locks, ovulation date, etc), the relationship to the parents, grandparents and great grandparents of the offspring are logged, and presented on a linage report (like a family tree ). It also records direct siblings

351717


351718
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just came across this colab by Liam with Dillon which better covers some of the subject matter issues.

Worth considering

 
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