Vivid Reptiles

Hypomelanistic Pituophis deppei deppei - VRHD

Hypomelanistic Pituophis deppei deppei - VRHD

VRHD - Summer Phase Pigmentation Detail

These 2 VRHD tail section macro photos taken in natural light that illustrate the rather startling blue/purple revealed by the VRHD hypomelanistic condition on some Summer Phase adults. This may occur on Winter Phase VRHDs as well but our sample size is still rather small and we have seen it on them so far. There is a point with the purple vs blue call where I am patently unqualified to make the distinction clearly so we shall just call it purple/blue to keep the color police at bay. Note how the splashes of red and orange blotch colors noted elsewhere have been filtered out on these tail sections leaving only the purple/blue. Interestingly, this beautiful purple/blue does not occur on the tails of Winter Phase VRHD. It is a mystery how the purple/blue made it's way onto these animals, it really should not be there. It doesn't seem to be a trick of translucent skin giving bluish appearance as seen in other "blue" albinos and hypos. 25 to 30 years ago I heard, on the best authority possible, that a "blue" Los Mimbres deppei existed. I filed the info away as interesting and attributed the rumor to an exaggeration of an animal with a light gray or equivalent background, ie "blue" light phased L. alterna and sky blue bairdi. Now, I am not so sure. Normal deppei have solid dark (black) pigment as tail blotches. However, elsewhere we have established the possibility that purple/blue pigmentation may have been there all along (please see: and would never have been been revealed but for a genetic quirk and very lucky roll of the dice. VRHD tail blotches often have a heavy intrusion of background color (yellow) making them appear a bit less than whole.

So what is this apparent obsession with pigment detail on these VRHD? The natural biological implications are of the most interest me now but those breeders in the know will realize that if the color is already present on a colubrid in one location it can often be "transferred" to another location through genetic manipulation accomplished through line breeding. It's a little trickier than working with simple recessive traits that perform on cue but it is usually doable by paying sharp attention to breeding outcomes. In my early years of attempting to understand color range and how it might work genetically on unadulterated colubrid species I discovered that with intelligent line breeding and time, color, from at least some locations could indeed be transferred to other locations. I no longer explore this line of inquiry but it still interest me except in the context of how it might figure into natural environmental adaptations. For the intrepid line breeder however, who knows what could be developed from the VRHD - pure white snakes, solid yellow snakes, blue snakes, purple snakes, yellow and purple/blue snakes, white and purple/blue snakes . . .