09 Jun Scaleless Snakes!
A snake with no scales! Yes, this is not a myth: you do get snakes that have no scales, and we are starting to see more and more of them popping up around the reptile world! The general trend with Scaleless snakes is that people either love them or they hate them. Even some people that are keen snake keepers or breeders do not like the idea of a scaleless snake, and would rather not have anything to do with them. Many people even think that they should not even be kept or bred! I must say when I first heard of a scaleless snake I was also a bit sceptical but when I did some further research and spoke to other breeders I found out that this mutation does not effect these snakes in captivity in any negative way and that they can be kept the same way as we keep our other snakes.
On the other hand, there are many reptile enthusiasts that are drawn to them by how unusual and fascinating this mutation is, I think the more you know about it the more people start understanding that they really just like any other snake mutation. I personally feel that apart from having no scales they are just like any other snake and deserve the same respect and appreciation as any ‘normal’ snake.
I have had many friends that were not keen on the idea of Scaleless Corn Snakes but when we at Ultimate Exotics imported the first Scaleless Corn Snake into South Africa and people started seeing it many of them changed their mind as once you get to see one and feel one in person it gives you a whole new outlook on this mutation. I always say to those people that are against it, that they must wait until you see one and hold one and then you can make your decisions if you like them or not.
I always like to hear peoples reactions when they hold one of our Scaleless Corn Snakes for the first time. Some say they feel like marshmallows, others say they feel like smooth human skin! These descriptions are quite accurate and they do have a smooth, silky-soft feel to them that is hard to explain!
To break it down, all it is is a simple recessive mutation, just like an albino mutation for example. So when you breed a scaleless snake to a normal, you will get all normal babies that are het for scaleless. Yes, that’s right: het for scalesless! Quite amazing!
Surprisingly, scaleless snakes have been around for a long time, with many of them originating from wild caught specimens. It seems that only now in the last few years are breeders giving them a bit more attention and working with breeding other colour mutations into the scaleless mutation. It is quite amazing how their colours and patterns are brought out on the skin once that layer of scales is no longer there. Some of the colour and pattern variations are truly amazing, and almost seem unreal. Many people think that due to having no scales they are likely to suffer injuries from their prey. This is definitely true, I am sure that their delicate skin would be an easy target for a prey item, and this is why scaleless snakes should only be fed frozen-thawed rodents and never live food. This is hardly a problem, as many snake breeders nowadays feed frozen-thawed rodents anyway.
The most common scaleless snake in captivity used to be the Scaleless Texas Ratsnake but since the Scaleless Corn Snake mutation came about, it has now taken over. You can just imagine the endless amount of Corn Snake mutations out there that are now potentially going to bred as a Scaleless variation and the ones that I have seen are truly amazing. Now, for those of us who know what a Texas Rat Snake looks like, it is generally a bland looking snake, but it’s scaleless mutation shows off some amazing red and black colours, not to mention its much defined markings, as you can see in the picture. What is great about the scaleless mutation is how it can make such a normally dull looking snake seem so bright, colourful, and significantly different!
Another interesting thing about scaleless snakes that not many people know is that fact that they are not all completely scaleless; some may have a few scales and others can have as many as 90% of their scales! One thing that all scaleless snakes have in common is that they all have ventral scales, which are very important for the snake’s movement. Another cool thing about this morph is how much snakes can vary in colour, pattern and the amount of scales. Snakes from the same clutch can look so different from one another, which is always exciting.
There are not many scaleless snakes in captivity in South Africa but at Ultimate Exotics we are working on a wide variety of Scaleless Corn Snake mutation combinations that will be available soon.
In conclusion, when it comes to caring for scaleless snakes there is nothing special you have to do. Keep them as you would any other snake of that same species and they will thrive, grow and shed just like any other snake. Just make sure to only feed frozen thawed food. I know this article might not change some people’s opinion on scaleless snakes, but I hope it makes you understand that if cared for properly they can be really amazing animals just like any other snake mutation that we keep.
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