An organism that is classiﬁed as being albino does not produce any black or brown pigment. Snakes that lack melanin are usually white and have red or yellow markings. The red and yellow markings are caused by the other pigment cells that are present in the skin of the animal. These animals also have red or pink eyes. This gives them a striking appearance, making them very popular among reptile fanciers. There are various types of albinism and they can be distinguished by their different origins.
The best known of these are tyrosinase-negative and tyrosinase-positive albinism. Most of the known albino mutations in the reptile hobby are the result of t-negative albinism. In this form of albinism the mutated gene influences the production of tyrosinase and in turn has an influence on melanin production.
Melanin cannot be produced as a result of the absence of tyrosinase. Not all albinism is caused by identical mutations. A mating between albinos can produce a whole clutch of wild type looking offspring. This indicates that there is more than one type of albino mutation present and that the loci function in different parts of the gene to create these mutations. Each mutation causes albinism through a different mechanism (Bechtel, 1995).
Another common albino mutation is t-positive albinism. In this mutation the animal can produce tyrosinase but is incapable of producing melanin. These animals can however produce pigmentation if exposed to some of the enzymes involved in melanosynthesis.
There are a few cases of albinism known in Australian python collections. It is recorded in Liasis olivaceaus olivaceaus, Morelia species and Antaresia species. The main documented cases have been with Olive and carpet pythons.
All of the respective founder animals are in capable private breeders’ collections and through a lot of effort and hard work have been bred into multiple generations of viable animals. These animals are now ver well established in the reptile hobbyist’s market and are the subject of much interest amongst reptile fanciers.
The best- documented case of Australian albino python breeding has been “Project Blondie”. Blondie is a female albino North—western Carpet Python that was discovered on a shower rail in the Northern Territory of Australia. She was moved on a Northern Territory government contract, to an established private breeder’s facility in South Australia and produced her ﬁrst heterozygous offspring about twelve years ago. These heterozygous animals have in turn produced many hatchling albino carpet pythons that have been offered to other breeders around Australia. Many thousands of albino carpet pythons have been produced since then.
This species group appears to have a lot of diversity in their genetic makeup and suggests some exciting prospects for breeding projects within the various carpet python species.
We were the first to produce 50% Inland carpet python albinos. Most of the inland albinos in the Australian hobby originate from our line.
We also produced the first 50% Jungle albinos in the world. The jungle albinos tend to express a lot more yellow in the albino form.