My 2017's are starting to show their colors and we're going to find out if my "broken eye stripe" theory about how to identify this morph is correct.
First things first: The state of camera technology is awesome in 2018 but you still have to know a few things to get good pics! I learned quite a bit last year about my phone/camera's settings that made a huge difference in showing you on this web page what these snakes actually look like.
My primary problem was my indoor fluorescent lighting. It's not always practical to take the snakes outside in bright day light set up a nice contrasting backdrop and do a freaking photo-shoot. So I had to learn to adjust some setting in my samsung's pro-mode. (Basically I asked my kid and then adjusted what she told me until the pictures looked about right)
The two pics below are an example of the problem I was having.The first pic is my camera's default setting. The snake looks really yellow even though he's not and the blue surface he's on looks really pale and washed out too.
When I switch to pro mode and adjust the white balance for my lighting I get something much more accurate (but still not quite right now he's not yellow at all).
So while I was working on getting better pics I noticed something I hadn't before about my snakes. These animals are all basically hypo-melanistic. A black pigment creates the dark spots and ground color on what would other wise be a white snake. EXCEPT!!!! Black isn't the only pigment in these snakes. They also have red and yellow and what I noticed (now that I have a large enough population of these animals from 1-5 years old) is that some favor the hypo-melanistic "silver/grey" phase, others favor the "red" phase and a few get very "yellow".
Now, it's nothing as dramatic as their cousins, the corn snakes, who display an awesome variety of color & patterns but it looks like the Texas rat snake is hiding more color possibilities than I thought.
So here we go:
OH! I almost forgot! Here's a pic of a really good looking local Texas rat snake from a couple weeks ago for comparison.
Silver: 16-02-02 Male
Red: 16-05-03 Male
Yellow: 15-01-02 Female
Also worth noting is this gal (16-04-01 Female). I don't know what's weird about this snake but something caught my eye when she hatched out. The margins of the dorsal markings seem way too crisp and contrast with the ground color is too intense. There's something I don't know about what's going on here.
So how does this affect my 2017 babies who are just now showing some color?
Well, the silvers & reds are starting to pop but the yellows are still weak. Here's a couple good examples of what is showing up.
I will be selling some of these babies but I guess I need to figure out when and how much.
Until then I'll close with a pic of this 2016 female (16-03-02) who has developed a crazy mosaic pattern. A few other snakes from her clutch have a little of this but she has enough to be
impressive. She's also a pussy cat to handle which is important because I am trying to figure out how to gauge aggression in these snakes so I can see if I'm getting calmer babies from calmer adults.
On a final note:
I trimmed my adults down last year to just 4 pairs. The 2006 & 2010's bred with no problems and both gravid females will lay any day now. My 2012 & 2013's don't seem to have bred so I'll be pairing them back up to try again. Judging by their behavior I'd say the younger females weren't ovulating when they older ones were.
I will continue to try to get some good pics and, hopefully, post more soon.