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Chat Transcript
Dave and Tracy Barker 12/17/99


Jeff Barringer - Ok.... welcome the next to last night of ChatWeek99 - Our guests tonight are Dave and Tracy Barker.

Babycool - How do you put ball pythons into hibernation for breeding?
TJB - We don't hibernate them. Actually the lowest temp they get is about 77 degrees.
dgb - We give them short days in the winter
dgb - It doesn't take much cooling
TJB - The cooling thing in our opinion may be a bit over done. Mainly you want a change. This can be food, light, temp etc.

BG - I cannot remember where I saw it or heard, but you had some indoor/outdoor cages for some of the larger pythons? how are the breeding projects coming along with keeping them inside, and outside? have you noticed any changes reproduction habits?
dgb - It's been easier on us to have big snakes in big cages
dgb - They seem to do most of the breeding thing all on their own when outside
TJB - Mainly bigger environments leads to a greater tolerance of temperature extremes.
TJB - For example our Olive pythons may sit on the floor in the big cages at 55-60, in a small cage that would probably give them ri and they'd die.
dgb - They spend a lot more time at cool temps than we would have predicted

BrianT - do you think oenpelli pythons will be available in the US at anytime? If/when they do become available, do you think they'll be popular?
dgb - They would be muy popular, but I'll be surprised to ever see them on the open market
dgb - They're neat, very different from other pythons

caolan - Dave or Tracy what would you say is the most important aspect of breeding bloods Temp, humidity, the right set up stuff like that.
dgb - I'd say one of the most important things is to start with captive-raised bloods
dgb - But I'd admit that Tracy is the blood person, lets see what she says
TJB - No question. Breeding wc males is ok, but adult females are difficult. We have been very lucky with them. No lower than 75
dgb - Starting with captive-raised animals, we don't do anything very different than we did when we were doing lots of Burmese
caolan would you say that any particular locals are harder to breed
TJB - Some pairs are just like each other!
dgb - Well, wild caught Sumatran bloods really do settle down better than do Malaysians
caolan - thank you.Sumatran blacks?
TJB - We mainly have Sumatrans. They are terrific. Reliable in that they will breed in 2 1/2 years. Great growers.
dgb - Blacks are also great snakes, and they are ready breeders if they are well-acclimated

CrotalusCo - Are you the only ones with albino bloods and when should we expect them to be available to the general public?
dgb - No , there are a few other wild-caughts in the country. We have the only captive-bred ones
TJB - The albinos are available now. This year we've sold our first ones, I am crazy about them!
TJB - Of course we are so happy to have bred the Ivory blood, which is also a Sumatran.
JeffB Tracy, what's the ETA for the ivorys to market?
TJB - Well, if luck is with us we will try to breed one male het back to the mom in 2001. So August-Nov 2001.

CWeb - Why did you guys decide to get out of chondros? Also, can you give us a brief overview of what's afoot with the Amethystinus complex?
TJB - Dave?
dgb - There is a paper in press that does a nice analysis of the relationships among the scrubs>
CWeb - how soon will that be published?
dgb - basically, there are a number of populations that are different species
dgb - The paper is due out in late 2000, it's one of the holdups of the second volume
dgb - what is now the amethitina complex will be divided into 5 species, with more to come.

D-tails1 - Cweb stole my question re-Chondros (never did answer though)...so what brought the two of you together...a particular herp in common...nice hair...?
dgb - yes, it was the hair
TJB - Our neighbor and friend Byron Barnes who does great with Chondros took on our projects. Mainly, being parents of two children keeps us very busy and at some point we had to focus on other projects. Really if you want to work with Chondros, talk with Trooper!
dgb - We like GTPs and did well with them
dgb - but the babies required too much attention for a collection like ours
dgb - Years ago, Tracy and I worked with people who were friends, so I kept hearing about this cute girl with pythons
dgb - Sounded good to me
dgb - she also had the first privately-owned cro monitor in the US.
dgb - so I knew she was cool And she liked your hair?
dgb - We finally met at a snake meeting
dgb - I had short hair most of my life, this ponytail thing is part of mid life crisis

gordie - I know this is slightly off topic but given the current media representation of the large boids how do you think we as herpers can self police ourselves so un-wanted incidents don't happen, or can we?
dgb - good question.
dgb - I think we better do something
TJB - We have now officially stopped doing all big pythons.
dgb - or we're going to find ourselves without any snakes
dgb - It seems the incidents are escalating
dgb - and they include injuries, and even fatalities
dgb - the public isn't going to go for it
MarkW - Sorry to butt in, but isn't that more because of more media coverage than actual incidents?
gordie - thank you..maybe licensing like falconry?
dgb - But what we can do... I don't know
TJB - Its a complicated issue. We love big snakes, but the amount of calls that we were receiving in regards to unwanted big snakes were escalating.
dgb - I think the licensing thing is viable.
dgb - mainly because there is a model to follow in falconry

inlands - ok dave /tracy can you tell me if the 2 carpets found in irian have been classified as separate sub species
dgb - No, they have not, and they likely won't. There is a study in prep , a Phd dissertation
dgb - that indicates that all the northern carpets
dgb - are pretty closely related
dgb - including the New Guinea forms.

MarkW - gordie touched on my question a bit.What are your thoughts on legislation restricting the ownership of big snakes, and/or the possibility of requiring permits to keep them? Do you think permits would be a step forward, or a step back?Do you think this will have a large impact on the industry as a whole?
dgb - I really don't know. I think the most important thing is that we need to create gray areas
dgb - by licensing, or law enforcement will make it a black&white issue >
dgb - and we will simply lose the right.
dgb - But that sucks
MarkW - I know we aren't a priority as far as interest groups go, but do you think it will eventually shut down all together?
dgb - Still, what's important is that herpers can keep big snakes if they're willing to jump through the right hoops
dgb - I think that's a possibility
JeffB - I think that we all need to get John McCain elected - his son keeps herps
dgb - No kidding?
MarkW - Gee, thanks for cheering me up dgb;)
JeffB - no kidding
JeffB - see this weeks time magazine
RyanG - yay John McCain!!
dgb - I'll vote for him

JustinJ - How often do you encounter Australian pythons in the wild, and what's the best way to find them?
dgb - Mark, I think things are worse off than most people probably do>
dgb - Justin, most people road-collect them.
JustinJ - at night?
dgb - I'm notoriously poor at finding them
dgb - usually at night
JohnOH - rather like alterna?
dgb - some cross in the day, depends on seasons and weather and all that same stuff as when we're road-hunting here in TX
dgb - You'd be great at it, John. It's legal to spotlight

RazorBackHerps - are you working with any of the new color morphs of carpets we have been seeing lately, like the jaguar carpet
dgb - No, we've given up the big species
RazorBackHerps carpet pythons dave
dgb - We don't have any rocks, no Burmese, only two pet retics
dgb - We still have lots of carpets, just the regular US stuff.
TJB - No we don't have any jaguar carpets!

Rdean - Why did you stop working with the retics and move into the bloods I Thought the retics were your favorite tracy And how big is your collection now?Where I'm from i do need permits to keep large snakes and it seems to work a little Sorry some repeat
dgb - The collection is still big, but Tracy(who decides everything) is keeping different species these days>
dgb - We do like big snakes, and we get our fix from bloods
TJB - Hey some guy!

NOTE - Dave and Tracy trade computers at this point in the chat.

RobPulay - I'm trying to breed my spotted pythons...I've seen their tails intertwined, is that a sure sign of mating or do you have to see the hemipenes?
TJB - It says tjb,but its really dgb
dgb - That's a good sign. Just keep them together until you're sure she's ovulated.
dgb - Leave them together. We do from November until the females go March or April.

RyanG - Dave, I know you already gave me and a few others some insight on this question, but could you answer for the rest of the folks here? Do you suspect interspeciation between M. s. mcdowelli (coastal carpets) and M. s. cheynei (jungle carpet pythons) in areas where their ranges overlap? If so, do you think there are any of these "natural crosses" in the U.S.? IF (yes another "if") so, how do you distinguish these intergrades from the "pure-carpets"
TJB - Whoa>
TJB - Yes, there is intergradation
TJB - I think all the coastals I've seen in the US are intergrades, natural intergrades
RyanG if the coastals are intergrades, then why is everyone so stuck up on keep the jungle and coastal lines pure?
TJB - there is a paper in prep where the researcher found that even the black&gold jungles were genetically identical to the coastals found north of
TJB - townsville
TJB - about the pure lines of carpets...
TJB - their appearances are polygenetic
TJB - and breeding them together is like breeding a poodle to a cocker spaniel
TJB - and then trying to breed the intergrade offspring back to get a poodle

snakebyt - with some of the new "dwarf" retics out on the market, do you think that will cut down on importation and keeping of the larger ones, and maybe cut down on "large snake incidents"? And do you think some of the smaller ones deserve there own subspecies, or is it just locality thing?
dgb - Dwarf now, wait until the next generations...
snakebyt - so the specimens now are just small WC
TJB - If they are dwarfs, yes. No matter, the captive-breeding is a good thing
TJB - they could be dwarfs, but
dgb - It is amazing though to see them so small on eggs. Everyone thought about it, but to find them, that is so cool!
TJB - there are numerous "dwarf forms" that once grown in captivity regained the size of their larger conspecifics
TJB - Think of Uracoan rattlesnakes and Hog Is boas, both very dwarfed in the wild, both
TJB - big in captivity.
dgb - I mean they're not going to get 20 feet., but they will probably all get 10-12. It would be great if we could find one that would stay 6-8.
TJB - "dwarf pythons (anchietae) are pretty big in captivity, too.

Snakes-N-Friends - Hello Dave and Tracey, I have 1.3 brown water pythons. the oldest female is 3 years she is a f1 animal the others are f2 and about a year in age. my ? is what do you think the earliest age is for sexual maturity for these snakes and any tips on breeding them, I have lost contact with the original breeder. Oh and does your line ever calm down I know these are like little chainsaws :-)
TJB - in the wild fuscus is known to breed at 9 months
TJB - I've never heard of that in captivity
dgb - Keep them together. We've had great luck with the few we have, but these are one of the few snakes we keep together all of the time.
TJB - but they will breed at 2 years of age.
TJB - guinea water pythons are nice
TJB - not chainsaws at all
Snakes-N-Friends - what do you think the average size would be to start breeding in captivity?, I realize age is a main factor also
dgb - 4 feet
TJB - Our females are between 3 & 4 feet

TobyH - Are you guys working on producing albino piebald balls?....and when albino piebalds reach the market, do you think they will cost as much as regular albino and piebald balls, combined price?.....;-)
TJB - They will be the Platinum
TJB - card model
RyanG - with flyer miles optional?
TJB - seriously, a lot of work will go into the project
dgb - I'm just working on producing albinos and pieds. I'll be 80 by the time I produce some of these things!
JohnOH - buy one, get a pair of maculosa free
TJB - and they will be expensive
TobyH - oh yeah!
TJB - but how much more can these things bring?
dgb - We are very excited about it!
TobyH - a lot

JeffB - ok...My turn - How is the online magazine going?
TJB - Yes, it's going good.
TJB - we're adding subscribers daily
foxglove - sent my money order last week... :)
TJB - I'm dave, we switched terminals
TJB - Have you enjoyed it?
FriendlyBeasties - Read it daily
RazorBackHerps - yes really like tracys diary and all the pics!
FriendlyBeasties - love the pictures of your leg with the bite

JFORKS - what changes take place towards the end of egg incubation
JFORKS - and do you do anything different during the final stages to compensate?
TJB - eggs
TJB - they lose their adhesion to each other in the last days
dgb - Joe. In a word we don't do anything at the end in terms of temp.
TJB - they begin to generate heat
JFORKS - is more oxygen and less humidity the recipe for the final stages of egg incubation in your opinion?
dgb - Forky, our method, trash cans with panes of glass on top. The last two weeks or so I flip the glass when the condensation gets extreme on the top.

JohnOH - Tracy, I have two pairs of ringed pythons, 4+5 years, trying to breed for the first time this year. I have paired, turned off heat, no breeding yet. any suggestions on spurring breeding?
TJB - sometimes they breed late in the season
JohnOH - should I separate and re-introduce?
TJB - they often have to be older than 5 (no kidding) or at least it seems that way
TJB - mate compatibility is very important, do they sit together, lots of physical contact?
JohnOH - yes
TJB - and siblings are hard to breed together.
JohnOH - ok, maybe switch the pairs then. thanks
TJB - If they sit together, they'll probably do it.

BG1 - I have 1.2 savu pythons, all yearlings, the male is close to three foot, and the females about 2 and a half. What is the minimum size that you know of the females producing eggs? Do you think I would have any chance at breeding them by next winter, the male is on rats, and the females on rat pups. Are there any tricks to breeding the savus? like anything different than standard python breeding techniques?
TJB - we don't have much experience with
TJB - sawus
TJB - we've done them but not repeatedly
TJB - I would think you'd have a good shot at breeding that group next year
dgb - We are really going to get this nailed down for you guys in our third book! Experimentally, we haven't done it in a controlled way. But I can say that I've really been experimenting a lot over the last couple of years with the eggs and it's amazing what they can take. Basically there are a zillion ways to do it right!
dgb - On the flip side, it's amazing how little it takes to wreck the eggs!

boidguy - Hey Dave and Tracey, Rich Nuzzi from NY here. 1st Hey guys!!! 2nd Where do you see the blood python market in 5 or 6 years from now???
dgb - We are hoping that Bloods will be the "big python" of the future. They have a lot of potential. Of all the snakes I've worked with (and that's been a few) hands down I love the Bloods the best.
TJB - OOOH HOT HOT HOT
boidguy - how did i know you would say that???
TJB - those bloods are going to be a popular snake because it turns out that they are nice
TJB - they are breedable
TJB - they have tremendous variation of color and patterns
boidguy - and GREAT looking!!!
TJB - and now there are some great mutations

JFORKS - That's all the time we have for tonight, Thank you for coming Dave and Tracy!!
JFORKS - you guys were so gracious to stay so long!!

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