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View Poll Results: Do you like scaleless snakes?
Yes 2 6.25%
No 30 93.75%
Voters: 32. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 03-17-17, 04:48 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

That's too bad. Seems like there should have been a way to make money and keep the health of the animal as a priority. Not sure why, the health part should have to suffer.
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Old 03-17-17, 05:10 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

Color mutations are completely cosmetic and are mainly influenced by the snakes surroundings. This has no ill effect on an animal in captivity because of this. Scales as a structure are not purely cosmetic and serve to protect the animal as well as retain moisture amongst others. Many of these functions are still important to an animal in captivity. It does negatively effect an animal in captivity to be missing this attribute. Also from an entirely evolutionary stance it is one of the major steps reptiles differentiating from their amphibian ancestors.
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Old 03-17-17, 05:14 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

I'd also add there is a distinct reason why snakes, crocodiles and other reptiles are almost unchanged for millions of years. Because evolution has proven their form essentially perfect.
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Old 03-17-17, 06:11 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

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Color mutations are completely cosmetic and are mainly influenced by the snakes surroundings. This has no ill effect on an animal in captivity because of this. Scales as a structure are not purely cosmetic and serve to protect the animal as well as retain moisture amongst others. Many of these functions are still important to an animal in captivity. It does negatively effect an animal in captivity to be missing this attribute.
I do get what you are saying here, and if it does negatively effect an animal's health in captivity then I am with you. I'm only adding two additional caveats. First that from a "natural" perspective there is little difference between color mutations (here I'm talking about mutations that would make the animal stand out in it's natural environment) and missing scales. Both mutations are traits that would be strongly selected against outside of captivity. Second that if scale-less snakes are a desirable trait, which judging by the poll and responses here must be an extremely small group of people, that animals with that trait will survive and reproduce in captivity, making it a "successful" mutation at least within the community of pet owners that like them. I think what you are arguing is that because it causes problems for the animal that it shouldn't be done, an ethical issue which I agree with.

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Also from an entirely evolutionary stance it is one of the major steps reptiles differentiating from their amphibian ancestors.
True, but it's not like there's no precedent for reptiles losing their scales, they've done it at least twice. Once for the lineage that eventually became mammals, and the second for the lineage that eventually became birds. I suppose you could argue that feathers and hair are modified scales and therefore they didn't technically lose them, but it did look like those snakes had some rudimentary scale-like structures as well.

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I'd also add there is a distinct reason why snakes, crocodiles and other reptiles are almost unchanged for millions of years. Because evolution has proven their form essentially perfect.
Well this is sort of true. While many of those groups look the same today as they did millions of years ago, they have undergone some changes which is why there are so many different species and subspecies, but true that their form generally works well in the environments in which they're found. In the grand scheme of things though a snake lacking scales that could live and reproduce only in captivity isn't much different than any other recently evolved species. While the differences are highly visible the general form of a snake is maintained.
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Old 03-17-17, 10:08 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

I have been wondering what is up with scaleless snakes. I see ads for them, all for high prices and I personally don't like the idea of no scales and they look odd. It seems sort of like a fad, not something that is beneficial or something that is neutral to the health of the snake. Almost like some new and exciting to sell for a higher price.
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Old 03-17-17, 10:40 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

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Originally Posted by whistlepig View Post
I do get what you are saying here, and if it does negatively effect an animal's health in captivity then I am with you. I'm only adding two additional caveats. First that from a "natural" perspective there is little difference between color mutations (here I'm talking about mutations that would make the animal stand out in it's natural environment) and missing scales. Both mutations are traits that would be strongly selected against outside of captivity. Second that if scale-less snakes are a desirable trait, which judging by the poll and responses here must be an extremely small group of people, that animals with that trait will survive and reproduce in captivity, making it a "successful" mutation at least within the community of pet owners that like them. I think what you are arguing is that because it causes problems for the animal that it shouldn't be done, an ethical issue which I agree with.



True, but it's not like there's no precedent for reptiles losing their scales, they've done it at least twice. Once for the lineage that eventually became mammals, and the second for the lineage that eventually became birds. I suppose you could argue that feathers and hair are modified scales and therefore they didn't technically lose them, but it did look like those snakes had some rudimentary scale-like structures as well.



Well this is sort of true. While many of those groups look the same today as they did millions of years ago, they have undergone some changes which is why there are so many different species and subspecies, but true that their form generally works well in the environments in which they're found. In the grand scheme of things though a snake lacking scales that could live and reproduce only in captivity isn't much different than any other recently evolved species. While the differences are highly visible the general form of a snake is maintained.
There is a huge difference, evolutionarily and in time scale, between a trait that has remained relatively unchanged for an entire class of animals to one that is not consistent even with animals of the same species. Feathers and hair are definitely modified scales and in either case they did not give up protection these structures provide them. A scale-less animal is more prone to injury and infection, even in captivity.

Now amphibians actually lost their scales, from fish, to better take in air, it is hypothesized. Of course as more efficient lungs were evolved they regained these structures, again proving their importance.
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Old 03-18-17, 08:55 AM   #22 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

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There is a huge difference, evolutionarily and in time scale, between a trait that has remained relatively unchanged for an entire class of animals to one that is not consistent even with animals of the same species.
Here I assume you're talking about scales and color morphs? I'll concede that the selective forces acting on scales are most likely stronger than those acting on color and pattern, but both benefit in a captive situation, allowing higher levels of survival and reproduction then they would achieve in a wild setting (relative to the wild type morphs).

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A scale-less animal is more prone to injury and infection, even in captivity.
This can be true, but as long as there is demand for these scale-less snakes, that becomes the over-riding selective force acting on them in captivity and it creates an evolutionarily stable environment for the trait allowing them to survive and reproduce, even while being more prone to injury and infection than scaled snakes. The same thing is true for something like a pug, where known health and breathing issues don't stop the breed from thriving in captivity.
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Old 03-18-17, 10:12 AM   #23 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

I'm not personally a fan of scaleless snakes (or morphs in general) but I do think it's important to point a few things out. Scaleless snakes were first discovered in the 1940s (first was a garter I think) and have been found in the wild on numerous occasions. They were found at different stages of life including adult, so they can survive in the wild, although it is not a trait that would be selected for obviously. Also there has been no evidence that they do a poorer job retaining water than snakes with scales. For me it boils down to personal preference. I don't like morphs, although I'll sometimes see one that looks awesome, with leucistic and hypo generally standing out depending on species. Having a snake with a wobble would drive me crazy. But before assuming scaleless are deformed or ill adapted to life I think it is important to look at their history.
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Old 03-18-17, 10:35 AM   #24 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

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Originally Posted by whistlepig View Post
Here I assume you're talking about scales and color morphs? I'll concede that the selective forces acting on scales are most likely stronger than those acting on color and pattern, but both benefit in a captive situation, allowing higher levels of survival and reproduction then they would achieve in a wild setting (relative to the wild type morphs).



This can be true, but as long as there is demand for these scale-less snakes, that becomes the over-riding selective force acting on them in captivity and it creates an evolutionarily stable environment for the trait allowing them to survive and reproduce, even while being more prone to injury and infection than scaled snakes. The same thing is true for something like a pug, where known health and breathing issues don't stop the breed from thriving in captivity.
By this argument all the health issues in dogs that are due to selective breeding, like incresed likelyhood of cancer and diplasia, are warranted because people still buy the animals. Natural selection and human selection are two different things because natural selection selects for survivability and human selection selects for our sensibilities, often to the detriment of the animal. I don't think our hobby should look to dog breeders for guidance, but use more discretion when selecting which traits to breed for.

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Originally Posted by Jeffco View Post
I'm not personally a fan of scaleless snakes (or morphs in general) but I do think it's important to point a few things out. Scaleless snakes were first discovered in the 1940s (first was a garter I think) and have been found in the wild on numerous occasions. They were found at different stages of life including adult, so they can survive in the wild, although it is not a trait that would be selected for obviously. Also there has been no evidence that they do a poorer job retaining water than snakes with scales. For me it boils down to personal preference. I don't like morphs, although I'll sometimes see one that looks awesome, with leucistic and hypo generally standing out depending on species. Having a snake with a wobble would drive me crazy. But before assuming scaleless are deformed or ill adapted to life I think it is important to look at their history.
Your argument is that because they have survived in the wild that they are not less fit?
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Old 03-18-17, 10:50 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

Less fit, but not lethally so. That much like many other morphs they can survive but they're not going to be selected for. There is a reason we don't see tons of scaleless (or albino, or leucistic) snakes in the wild. Again, I am not necessarily for them but I feel feel the ethics of breeding them are no worse than breeding many other morphs.
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Old 03-18-17, 11:15 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

Tossing another inquiry out there. Is there any difference in the auto-immune systems between scaled and scale-less?
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Old 03-18-17, 12:01 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

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Originally Posted by Jeffco View Post
Less fit, but not lethally so. That much like many other morphs they can survive but they're not going to be selected for. There is a reason we don't see tons of scaleless (or albino, or leucistic) snakes in the wild. Again, I am not necessarily for them but I feel feel the ethics of breeding them are no worse than breeding many other morphs.
I would argue that they are less fit to survive even in captivity and I don't think we should be breeding for such traits. I don't think you can say that a piebald is less fit to survive in captivity than a wild type.

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Tossing another inquiry out there. Is there any difference in the auto-immune systems between scaled and scale-less?
It is possible, but unlikely.
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Old 03-18-17, 12:32 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

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Natural selection and human selection are two different things
This would be an interesting topic that I'd love to delve into further, but a snake forum probably isn't the most ideal place to do it, lol.

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By this argument all the health issues in dogs that are due to selective breeding, like incresed likelyhood of cancer and diplasia, are warranted because people still buy the animals.
I think you may be misinterpreting my arguments. I am more neutral with regards to selecting for atypical traits in general, but am against selecting for traits that cause suffering in animals. I'm only suggesting that the reality is that demand creates a selective force that can and does motivate people to breed for atypical traits even if it does cause suffering or harm.

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I don't think our hobby should look to dog breeders for guidance, but use more discretion when selecting which traits to breed for.
I agree, unfortunately all we can really do as consumers is to decrease the demand. As with anything there are responsible and irresponsible breeders out there and if there is money to be made, some will pursue it, even if it means some animals will suffer.

One final question for you, and I think you may have partially answered it in your most recent post, If there were a breeder who developed a line of scale-less snakes that were otherwise healthy, would that satisfy your objection? Or is it your position that the potential for deleterious effects in the snakes too high that no one should even attempt it?
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Old 03-18-17, 01:13 PM   #29 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

Scaleless snakes, just like hairless dogs and cats, are just plain ugly.

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Originally Posted by whistlepig View Post
One final question for you, and I think you may have partially answered it in your most recent post, If there were a breeder who developed a line of scale-less snakes that were otherwise healthy, would that satisfy your objection? Or is it your position that the potential for deleterious effects in the snakes too high that no one should even attempt it?
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Old 03-19-17, 07:11 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Re: Do you like scaleless snakes?

No I find them unattractive.
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