Blizzard Corn Snake

Amazing as it may seem, this was not the product of a planned attempt at getting a pure white patternless corn snake. This was purely an unpredicatable pleasant surprise, that sometimes happens in this business. The original stock here came from a pair of corns that were heterozygous for amelanism, type 'A' anerythrism, and type 'B' anerythrism (now called 'Charcoal') that came from Bill and Kathy Love's stock as they first started experimenting with the Charcoal line. In an attempt to discover whether or not the original 'Pine Island Anerythristic' was actually a variety of Anerythrism or something new, the female was bred by a snow corn so that the results could determine the genetic makeup of this new looking animal. I don't remember the exact number of animals produced, but the bulk of them were normal colored and a couple were Anerythristic, indicating that the 'Pine Island Anerythristic' was a new gene. However she was also heterozygous for the standard Anerythrism also noted to be found in that area. It was from a pair of these normal colored offspring that the first Blizzards I produced originated from. As best I can tell, I was the third person known to have produced the Blizzard corns, after Art Meyer and Jack Cole.

When I saw the very first Blizzard that I hatched out, my first reaction was that I was extremely lucky, thinking this was a triple homozygous animal. There was only a 1 in 64 chance of any animal hatching being homozygous for amelanism, anerythrism, and the new Pine Island Anerythrism genes, so this would have been a VERY lucky occurance. The following year, I had one more hatch out and I began to doubt the triple homozygous theory. My luck just isn't THAT good. After a few years, there was enough data that I could more easily try to understand what it is that makes the Blizzard corn. One factor is that the amelanistics that have come from this line are very rich red-orange in color. Secondly, the Blizzards are most likely a variety of Snow, based on the Charcoal gene since these were the first and only indications of what this gene combined with Amelanism will produce. But there is the matter of the 'A' anerythrism floating around in the genetic mixture that still tends to confuse the issue. Some of the Blizzards are basically a nearly pure opalescent white with a barely discernible pattern. Others are of the same white coloration, but yellow markings delineate where the typical corn snake dorsal and lateral blotching exists. The abdomen can also be strongly patterned in yellow as well. Statistics would indicate that a small proportion of the animals WOULD be homozygous for all three genes in those animals whose parents were also heterozygous for 'A' anerythrism. But would this account for the yellow coloration? It would seem to indicate that the Charcoal gene is at least partially repressing the 'A' anerythristic gene, otherwise a dominating 'A' Anerythrism gene would tend to produce animals more like a typical snow.

Or is this barking up the wrong tree completely? Based on examples I have seen in several other cultivars, this yellow coloration may be a form of Xanthism being exhibited and may have nothing at all to do with 'A' Anerythrism. Yet the question still remains as to whether we are dealing with Xanthism, Axanthism, or both in the corn snakes. I tend to suspect we are dealing with a genetically recessive Xanthism gene, but I would be hard pressed to defend that suspicion. If a trait is recessive, but it is so successful in enhancing the survival of the animals that carry it, that nearly all examples now have it, how could you really tell it is recessive? It would be like trying to prove that snakes having a single forked tongue is a recessive trait. How are you going to come up with something to disprove it? Fortunately, I don't believe it is going to be quite that difficult to prove any longer. We now have a fair selection of genetic color variants that allow us to selectively remove colors and look at what is remaining on the palette. It is only a matter of time before the Xanthism (or Axanthism) gene is isolated. The Lavender corn appears to be one that is Axanthic, and at one time I thought that was all it was. Until I produced Lavenders with yellow on them. I also suspect that we will find that most lines of Axanthism stem from Miami Phase stock. But at this point, it is merely thinking out loud. The biggest fly in the ointment is that the AMOUNT of yellow appears to be wildly variable in the corn snake. We tend to think of genes as being on/off switches and Xanthism doesn't appear to fit this view very well.

Questions remain that need to be answered. For instance, what would a Candy Cane variety of Amelanism combined with Charcoal produce? Are there any existing animals homozygous for both Charcoal and type 'A' Anerythrism? Would there be anything to visibly identify them? Would starting an new line of Blizzards based on breeding Charcoal to something like an Amelanistic Okeetee produce animals identical to existing Blizzards or would something new develop? Was the development of the Blizzard corn a fortuitous blending of genes that we might not be able to duplicate again? Have there ever been any other examples of the 'Pine Island Anerythristic' caught in the wild that we could use as new stock to work with?

To further confuse this issue, apparently there are a number of unrelated factors that can produce this 'Blizzard' effect in the corn snake. There also exists stock that originated from a line called Cocoa (which in turn originated from my Lavender line) that are also pure white. From the one lone example I had, it was even more pure white than most of the Blizzard corns. I have my suspicions that this pure white variety may be a triple homozygous animal (Lavender, Amelanism, and 'A' Anerythism), but a sufficient amount of data is still lacking. One would suspect that a 'Snow Blood Red' would also resemble this line, but curiously I have not heard of anyone producing something like this. The closest I have to offer are results from breeding Blood Red to Blizzard, but the resulting Blizzards actually appear to be more strongly patterned than the original Blizzard line.

As mentioned above, there appear to be two different variants in this cultivar. One is nearly pure white with only the barest trace of pattern visible when viewed in strong light. The other variant is a basically white corn snake, but the pattern is a light lemon yellow with no other traces of pigment. Some of the more blue-white examples with traces of yellow are extremely attractive. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to determine from a baby which variety it will turn into as an adult. Even more confusing, I have seen individuals that will change dramatically from one shed to the next. I have had a group of them with some marked as keepers and others marked as for sale, and have switched around the markers almost every month as they each changed in appearance.

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Copyright © 2001 by Rich Zuchowski/SerpenCo
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