LACK­ING PIG­MENT

Animal Scene - - SCALY SPECIAL -

So, what makes the Fire and Ivory Burmese pythons unique? For starters, the Fire Burmese python is also known as the Hypo Burmese python. “Hypo, short for hy­pome­lanis­tic, means that the an­i­mal has de­creased black or brown melanin,” Melvin ex­plains. Melanin is a dark pig­ment that is also present in hu­man skin. “The peo­ple who dis­cov­ered this mu­ta­tion gave them the name Hypo Burmese python be­cause of their light­ness of color and lack of melanin.”

On the other hand, the Ivory Burmese python is com­pletely white. “Ev­ery hob­by­ist . . . would be stunned to see a huge white snake for the first time,” says Melvin. “Of course, the ivory stands out against the Hypo. The first time I saw Fire and Ivory pythons was in 2005, some­where in Asia. At that point I had no idea if the light­ness of the Fire python and the White Burmese python genes were in­her­i­ta­ble. Af­ter a cou­ple of years, a friend of mine man­aged to get an Ivory Burmese python, and bred it with an Al­bino Burmese python. This pro­duced 100 per­cent Hy­pos. After­ward, he also man­aged to breed with an­other Ivory python, and this pro­duced 100 Ivory Burmese pythons. So, that [proved] that th­ese snakes carry co-dom­i­nant genes.”

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