Morti: Who was the first to produce the sunglow Boa??
Tracy Barker: I am the only one that has produced them What it took to make the sunglow took years of work starting way back when the first albinos just came out. A Lot of people have been involved in making these "designer Snakes". People like Rich Ihle and Craig Trumbower. It involved lots of people and several years of work.
M: Just the genetics alone are boggling.
TB: I never thought I would produce the first sunglow. We were all speculating on what they would look like. Many people thought that you would not be able to tell the difference between sunglow and Albino; that the albino would just overpower the hypo, but what we got were these beautiful, different boas.
M: Who proved the genetics for the Sunglow?
TB: Well, I was the one that produced the first one, but the original albino boa was produced by Pete Kahl, but that was a long time ago. The hypo boas were started by two people from Arizona. Then those two boas had to be mixed and you had to raise them. The project took several years to complete. I had three people involved VPI of course, Ritch Ihle, and Craig Trumbower. Long Story, but I had the albinos and I had some Hypos I loned those guys the albinos and they sent me the babies back to be raised up. I raised them for about 3 years before they were ready to breed.
M: How do the Genetics work?
TB: Sunglows can be produced two ways: they can be produced by breeding a Hypo Het for sunglow to an albino, a double het to a double het, or hypo het to a het albino. You breed the double het for sunglows to each other, you should get sunglows, super sunglows, albinos, and more double hets.
The Odds of getting a sunglow are huge. On my first project, there were 15 babies there was one sunglow and one super sunglow and no albinos.
M: So is the Hypo a simple recessive trait like Albino or is it Co-dominant or what?
TB: The hypo is a little complicated.. The person to talk about That is Rich Ihle. It think it is termed as both co-dominant and dominant. You can also have super hypos that can be bread to a normal snake to produce hypos. It's pretty neat to see what's going to be coming out.
M: I want one of those super Hypos!
M: How is breeding Boas different from breeding Pythons?
TB: Boas are extremely challenging. Dave and I have been known for pythons. Pythons, If they copulate a few times, you are in good shape. But Boas are different. What I am doing is trying to breed them more reliably. The percentage of people who produce pythons successfully is a lot greater than the ones who produce Boas. It is a definite thrill to have these boas.
You see a lot on the forums about people breeding albinos to albino and how you have problems with that. I am a Biologist.. I believe in statistics. We have produced multiple litters of albino to albino, and only had problems with one baby. Of all the albinos that we have worked with, the albino boa is an awesome snake! Statisticly form what we have produced, we have had no problems breeding albino to albino.
M: With this age of readily available information, it?s easy to get bad ideas about what is right and what is wrong. Besides VPI.com , what are some other sources of info that you would suggest for the readers?
TB: As far as boas go, the breakthrough paper on boas which, in my opinion, had great weight with me, was Jeff Ronnie's paper in Reptiles. It was the first substantial paper ever done on reproduction of boas. People need to read that paper.
TB: I want to talk about my most exciting Boa project.
M: Great. That was my next question anyway.
TB: We just proved this genetic. I think the most exciting boa is the T+ albino. A lot of people say "If you could just take all the brown out" and this is what this does. I raised 20 boas: 1 t+ and all of its siblings. They are just a pink snake. It has red eyes and it has a red tongue. It's weird because they change as they get older. It is going to make all the others look better when you breed them with any of the pattern variations. I think we probably have some info in VPI.com. (link at the bottom of the interview.)
The newest project is a striped Suriname. The most perfectly striped redtail I have ever seen.
The Boas are just so cool because there are just no two alike. I have had boas but I have never tried to breed boas until recently. I started with boas in 1996.
Boa people are all genuinely excited and interested in all this. Jeff , Jeremy Stone, these guys are all great.
We just came out with 2 new ball python videos and the next one we do is going to be on boas.
I think this is all just great. I love what we do. When Dave and I started VPI, We wanted to leave a legacy. That is what we are doing with our books and videos.
M: I agree that you are leaving a legacy, not just with your publications but with your snakes as well. Thanks for your time! We always look forward to seeing the new and wonderful snakes that you are producing.
TB: Thank you.