Basic Reptile Genetics

By Eric Schumann

20 Feb 2019

The topic of genetics is often seen as intimidating or difficult thanks to what we hear and see from the media. In reality, the genetics we talk about in the reptile hobby is fairly straight forward once you understand some basics.

The area of genetics we are interested in is called Mendelian Genetics, named after the monk who discovered it, Gregor Mendel. In summary, Gregor was an Austrian monk who lived from 1822-1884. Today he is known as “The father of modern genetics.” He is the man who first discovered that genes could be Dominant or Recessive and he was able to describe how these genes were inherited from the parents by breeding pea plants.

In the reptile hobby animals will have genese of many different qualities. They can be dominant, recessive, incomplete dominant or co-dominant. Each one has an effect on the phenotype of the animal. The phenotype is basically it’s outward appears, colors, patterns etc.. Genes come in pairs. One gene is inherited from the mother and the other gene in the pair is inherited from the father. If the father were to contribute a dominant gene and the mother were to contribute a recessive gene then the offspring would have each one paired together on the same allele. The dominant gene, as the name implies, would override the effects of the recessive gene. By looking at the offspring you wouldn’t know that it carried the reccesive gene because it is masked by the dominant gene. This is why keeping good husbandry records is so important when breeding.

I want to share a video that I think does a really good job of explaining the rest in a way that’s easy to understand. After a while, it will become second nature. Here’s a link to the video. Enjoy! An Intro to Snake Genetics!

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