Mother Nature is the artist. I just collect the memories…

Cornsnake Morphology

With all the recessive genes and combinations available in cornsnakes, I thought I would create an “incomplete” listing of some of the most common recessive genes and recessive combinations, as well as the most popular “line bred” looks.

Selectively Bred Looks:
Okeetee Phase-displays bright, clean orange ground color, clean, deep red saddles, and thick black borders.
Miami Phase-displays clean tan, grey or silver ground color with clean, bright red saddles.
Upper Keys-Once a seperate subspecies. Displays an overall “lighter” appearance with a ground color that leans more towards tan, and contains less contrast between the ground color and saddles
Milksnake Phase-A.K.A. Banded. These snakes have been bred to display wide saddles that typically join to the side splotches, giving the snake a banded appearance.
Aztec-saddles are asymmetrical in appearance, joining with each other at apparrently random locations, giving the snake the appearance of ancient Aztec markings
ZigZag-saddles join in a zipper-like pattern forming an obvious zigzag pattern down the back.
Frosted-saddles will display visible “whiteout” spots where each scale appears to have the pigmentation focused towards the center of the scale.

None of the above looks are the result of simple recessive genetics, and as such, no snake can be considered to be “het” or heterozygous for these traits. These looks are the result of linebreeding the best examples of each phase to each other in an effort to “perfect” the look. Most often, there is a wide range of variety in what is accepted as a particular phase, and each example is subject to one’s own opinion.

Pattern Mutations
Motley-this pattern mutation causes the saddles to connect at the sides, leaving a circular pattern down the back of the snake. There is a WIDE variety of “perfection” to this gene, and no two motley snakes will look the same. One discerning feature is the lack of ventral “checks” on the belly of the snake. Considered co-dominant with the Stripe gene. Linebred variations include Hurricane and Cubed.
Stripe-in homozygous form, this mutation will cause stripes to form down the back of the snake. It appears as though the saddles join completely on the sides, leaving two perfect stripes that run the length of the snake. There is a variety to the appearance of these stripes with some being disconnected towards the tail and others “vanishing” as the snake matures. Ventral checks are not typically present. Considered co-dominant with the Motley gene.
Diffusion-A.K.A. Bloodred. This gene causes the side blotches of a snake to fade or “diffuse”, leaving the snake virtually patternless on the sides in the best examples. Ground color usually “seeps” into the ventral region, causing orange or red bellies with no ventral checks.

The above pattern mutations are of a simple recessive genetic nature, and are predictable in offspring of homozygous and heterozygous parents to a highly reliable degree.

Single Recessive Color Mutations

The following mutations are the result of homozygous recessive genes causing the absence or reduction of certain pigments in the snake’s skin.

Amelanism(amel)-this mutation causes a complete lack of melanin, which removes all of the black from the snake’s coloring. Ground color will appear orange, red, or white, and saddles will typically be bright red. Linebred variations include Candy Cane, Reverse Okeetee, Crimson and Sunglow. A.K.A. Red Albino or Albino. Considered co-dominant with Ultra
Anerythrism type A(anery)-This mutation prevents the developement of erythrin, which produces the pigment cells that create the oranges and reds found in normal corns. Ground color is pale grey or silverish in appearance. Saddles are black, dark brown or grey in appearance. Snake’s will typically develope concentrations of yellow along the chin and sides as snake matures. A.K.A. Black Albino
Anerythrism type B(charcoal)-Very similar to anery, but snake’s do not typically develope as much yellow as in anery type A snakes.
Caramel-These snakes are typically very yellow. Ground color is usually yellow or “caramel” in color with saddles being varying shades of brown.
Cinder-A.K.A. Z or Ashy. Not a lot is known about this gene. It appears to be a third form of anerythrism, with hathclings appearing as a brownish “anery” and developing a certain amount of reddish coloration as the snake matures.
Dilute-appears to be a “hypo” gene, wherein a reduction of malanin is present. Also appears to be linked to anerythrism type A.
Hypomelanism type A(hypo)-causes a reduction, but not an elimination, of melanin pigment, which gives the snake a lighter and “cleaner” appearance.
Lava-another hypo trait that reduces melanin and brightens the appearance of the snake.
Lavander-typically a very “strange” grey coloration…almost purple. Very difficult to describe. You need to see one to understand.
Pied-sided-displays areas on the side of the snake that have no coloration resulting in patches of pure white. Believed to be linked to the diffusion pattern trait.
Sunkissed-a hypo-like trait that reduces melanin content and also appears to effect saddle size and shape. Unrelated to other known forms of hypomelanism.
Ultra-Highly reduced melanin. Almost non-evident. Considered co-dominant with amelanism.

All of the above mutations are the result of a single recessive gene appearing in a homozygous state to produce the resultant look. These genes are extremely predictable in breeding as simple recessive. Snakes that are heterozygous for these traits will look “normal” but still carry one copy of the gene hidden.

Recessive Combination Morphs

All of the following morphs are the result of combining two or more recessive genes in homozygous status. The motley or stripe pattern mutations described above can be combined with any of the following morphs for a different look.

Amber-Caramel + Hypo
Avalanche-Amel + Anery + Diffusion
Blizzard-Amel + Charcoal
Butter-Amel + Caramel
Coral Snow-Amel + Anery + Hypo A
Fire-Amel + Diffusion
Ghost-Anery + Hypo
Golddust-Caramel + Ultra or Ultramel
Granite-Anery + Diffusion
Hybino-Amel + Hypo
Ice-Anery + Lava
Lavamel-Lava + Amel
Opal-Lavander + Amel
Pewter-Charcoal + Diffusion
Phantom-Charcoal + Hypo
Plasma-Lavander + Diffusion
Snow-Anery + Amel
Topaz-Lava + Caramel
Whiteout-Charcoal + Amel + Diffusion
Ghost Blood – hypo + anery + diffusion
Sulfur – caramel + amel + diffusion
Caramel Bloodred – caramel + diffusion
Amber Bloodred – caramel + hypo + diffusion
Anery Lavender – anery + lavender
Ice Blood – Lava + anery + diffusion
Snopal – amel + anery + lavender


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