By Warwick Von Hagen
Those of you who have recently discovered the fast growing world of Ball Pythons, have probably come across the concept of ALS or Acts Like Super. More than likely you are probably scratching your head and asking what ever could this be? Well, never fear, as I am here to put in simple terms and give a list (to the best of my knowledge) of ball pythons and other species where this concept exists.
Let us just cover the basics with regards to Genetics 101 to help you understand before we get into understanding the ALS.
To start my basic explanation, let us looking at the breeding of the pastel gene (this gene is co-dominant or “Co-dom” in the reptile community). Bear in mind everything I explain is just theory and can vary per breeding:
Pastel X Normal will result in the following offspring
Pastel X Pastel will result in the following offspring
25% Super Pastel
Super Pastel X Normal will result in the following offspring
Super Pastel X Pastel will result in the following offspring
50% Super Pastel
Super Pastel X Super Pastel will result in the following offspring
100% Super Pastel
This that I have mentioned above is simple Genetics 101; you NEED to understand this before we can move on!
Now we can move on to the next step. In this step we will cross 2 different genetics together. The breeding we will be looking at is the Pastel x Spider pairing.
From the pairing mentioned above, the resulting offspring will be:
25% Bumble Bee
Now, if we took that Bumble bee and bred it to a normal, we would hatch the following:
25% Bumble Bee
As you can see, by breeding a Pastel x Spider OR breeding a Bumble bee x Normal, you will obtain the same ratio in theory. In reality, the numbers will vary.
Now that you understand this, let us look at the ALS. The official name for ALS is, in fact, Compound Heterozygous.
What does this this big fancy word mean? Well, it refers to when two alleles (alternate forms or varieties of a gene) meet at the same locus (The location of allelic genes on the chromosome), creating a genetic mutation composed of two different genetic ingredients. The term Acts Like Super was created by Kevin McCurley of N.E.R.D. This slag was derived to define two distinct genes that pair at the same locus but have different but compatible alleles. The resulting combo generally has a dramatic visual expression. When bred to a normal all resulting babies are gene carriers of this combination. 50% in theory are representative of each parent animal. This combination cannot reproduce itself since it occurs at the same locus and can only reproduce the “ingredients” that created it. Since this is a paired gene mutation you must understand the difference of an ALS to that of a double mutation. With a combo such as a Pastel x Spider (as discussed earlier) we are looking at two distinct locus sites to define the presence of these genes. Pastel does NOT share the same locus as Spider and we are seeing the overlapping of two expressed genes on the same snake. With ALS we are seeing two genes on the SAME locus and the resulting pair of genes makes the visual combo. This is basically the same type of behavior we see with Super form genetics.
So, what does this mean with regards to breeding?? Well, let us look at a few pairings; the two “base ingredients” we will use is that of Yellow Belly and Spector.
Separately, the Yellow belly and Spector genes act like the pastel gene. When combined together, the work as a Compound Heterozygous animal or ALS.
So, let’s start by pairing Yellow belly x Spector, the resulting pairing will produce the following offspring:
25% Yellow Belly
25% Super Stripe (this is the animal you want to produce, this is the ALS animal)
Now if we breed a Super Stripe x Normal the offspring will be:
50% Yellow Belly
Now if we breed a Super Stripe x Super Stripe the offspring will be
50% Super Stripe
25% Super Spector
Now if we breed a Super Stripe x Yellow Belly the offspring will be
25% Yellow Belly
25% Super Stripe
If your head is hurting from that, I do apologize! But, as you start dealing with this more, it will become easier to understand. After all my years of learning genetics, I still have to double check.
Find a breeder that you have a good relationship and let them mentor you as they can help you understand genetics easier.
Let’s look at an interesting list. As I said at the start of the article, I have created a list of different ALS in different species of which I am aware. If I have forgotten any, please forgive me.
(In this section, I will list the different complexes that ALS are present in.)
Yellow Belly Complex:
Blue Eyed Leucistic:
Russo het Leucistic
Het Red Axanthic
You’re probably wondering how a recessive can be an ALS. Well, it’s only an ALS when combined with each other.
Candy/Toffee: (This will be discussed in a later article.)
Stripe / Motley – creates the stripe motley or pin stripe
Albino / Ultra – creates the ultramel
Boawoman Caramel / Sharp Strain Albino – Creates the paradigm
Hypo / Motley – creates the Hypo Motley
White / Purple Albino – creates the lavender albino
This list is by no means complete. I just hope the various readers can use this article to better understand what has been discussed to predict the outcomes of their breedings, and that I have helped explain this concept.