Origin of Scaleless corn snake:
The scaleless mutation was born on October 4, 2002 in the breeding center of Richard Dijoux: Colubiasnake.
The name scaleless means « without scales ».
The first scaleless offspring was born by chance from a reproduction between a specimen of Pantherophis guttatus and a Pantherophis emoryi (Great plain rat snake). This mutation is therefore from hybridization and should be indicated as Pantherophis sp.
At that time, Elaphe guttata was still the accurate name of the species, and emoryi was considered a subspecies of Elaphe guttata: Elaphe guttata emoryi.
During this reproduction between these two species in October 2002, there were 3 live eggs, two of which produced emoryi-typed babies, and the last one produced the first Scaleless.
The birth of this first specimen led Richard Dijoux to wonder if this was the result of an incubation error or a new gene. The scaleless is a recessive gene, and perfectly reproducible. Scaleless were less fertile, there were fewer eggs probably because of the ancestry of emoryi, which is a less prolific species. Today, scaleless have been reproduced mainly with Corn snakes, and litters seem more fertile.
The scaleless’ particularity is the almost absence of scales, notably on the back and flanks. In fact, the ventral scales are still there, which allows the animal to move. This absence of scales plays on the colors, which are often more vivid. The pattern is also less precise, arranged more in large spots. Scaleless have so far perfectly combined with other color genes.
The incision of scaleless eggs is almost indispensable. Indeed, young use a scale called « egg tooth » to pierce the shell. This is often absent in young scaleless, which caused higher mortality at the start of this mutation.
Are scaleless still hybrids ?
Today, Richard Dijoux continues to note his current Scaleless or with het Scaleless as Pantherophis sp. In fact, he has always been transparent about the origin of this mutation in his breeding, and rigorous in tracking the lines. Hybridization at a given moment can’t be caught up and erased. As proof, scientists can detect in the DNA of Homo sapiens a crossing with Neandertal man thousands of years old.
An American breeder had fun calculating that in the case of a crossing between two species of Pantherophis, it would take 8 generations of reproduction with Corn snakes for the DNA to correspond to 99% to Corn snakes, and 18 generations to reach 99.99% (note, the details of the calculation is not indicated).
Some people often say: « there is no need to indicate hybridization, it is so diluted over time! » Is it that diluted? Even without taking into account this calculation, are the Scaleless for sale today so far from the original hybridization?
For the record, Cornsnakes live an average of 20 years, with peaks at 25-30 years possible in captivity. Pantherophis emoryi possibly has the same longevity. The very first Scaleless were born in 2002. Most are possibly still alive today. In 2015 at the Nîmes fair, Richard Dijoux still sold a corn snake x great plain rat snake couple carrying the Scaleless gene. Since 2002 and with ultra-intensive growth of specimens, it is possible that we are 10 generations away from the original couple for some lines. But how to know the level of kinship with these first specimens? In a reproduction logic, why would a breeder not reproduce a specimen in good form, even 20 years old? Kathy Love reports in her book that it is quite possible.
In addition, many het Scaleless specimens are still visually identifiable today, the emoryi ancestry still showing (washed-out gray background and brownish stools for example).
As long as this hybridization is known and assumed by the discoverer, why hide and suppress the true name? This does not prevent sales. Accepting to name this origin is a simple tracking of the lines that allows for a little more knowledge about these animals.
How do you obtain Scaleless babies ?
As the original couple that produced the first Scaleless was made up of Pantherophis guttatus x Pantherophis emoryi, there is frequent confusion among beginners that it is enough to pair specimens of the two species to get Scaleless.
This is not the case.
It is not the hybridization that caused the mutation. These two species were already reproduced together in other lines without the gene appearing.
Here it is an incredible coincidence, the two specimens were carriers of the same gene. The Scaleless is indeed a gene present within several species in nature. Scaleless specimens of Natrix sipedon, Boaedon capensis, Pituophis catenifer and many others have already been observed in their natural environment. Scaleless Ball Pythons also exist. Richard Dijoux therefore had the chance to have two specimens of different species carrying the same gene and compatible during reproduction.
If you reproduce together two non-carrier cornsnake of the Scaleless gene, you will not get any young Scaleless.
Scaleless description :
This color is characterized by the absence of scales on the back and sides. The colors then vary according to the possible mutation.
A classic specimen presents the characteristics of a classic Cornsnake with slightly brighter colors. Of course, given the many variations among classic corn snake, the same color variations are found among scaleless.
Saddles : Brown
Background : Orange
Borders : Black
Belly : variable, black and white checkerboard, black and orange.
Eye : brown
Other mutations :
The scaleless gene is compatible with all other mutations. So there are scaleless okeetee, tessera, anery, snow, etc.