So as our breedings become more complex and we continue to stack genes to make all of these cool designers, the inevitable challenge of identifying your hatchlings will occur. Often times, newbies and even more experienced breeders will take the easy route and snap some shitty pics and just send it off to one of the “Big” boys since they have magical powers, lots of free time and can ID their snakes easily. Sometimes it is easy or obvious based on experience, but most times it takes a lot of back and forth. Some guys will even get angry if you don’t promptly stop what your doing and help them ID their snakes for them. This is especially frustrating when the person flooding your in box with pics is not even a customer. Now don’t take this the wrong way. I love to help, encourage and inspire others in all things. Anyone who knows me can attest to this, but I simply get too many requests to help ID Orange Dream combos. I am a very goal oriented and driven person. That means everyday I wake up I have a ton of things that require my attention as I chase my dreams… and trust me I dream big and often!
So as the saying goes, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day… teach a man to fish and he’ll stop harassing you! Haha, all jokes aside. Identifying combos has become one of my least favorite activities in this hobby. I don’t think anyone actually enjoys it and a lot of people can’t accept the reality that many of the IDs or labels we apply are theoretical (an educated guess) and can only be confirmed through breeding trials. So that being said… here is the process I use to ID combos.
Step 1: Let the entire clutch shed out. Trying to ID combos before they shed and especially while they are still in the egg is ridiculous. You’re wasting your time. Let them ALL shed out. This is especially important with Orange Dream combos as the OD tends to light up post shed and even after a meal or two. I refer to this as the light switch being flipped on. I even believe this is how I ended up receiving the original OD hatchling as a fancy banded bonus gift. It appeared to simply be a fancy banded, but once it shed and fed a couple times that switch was flipped and I knew I had something special!
Step 2: Compare the entire clutch to each other. Often times you can use a process of elimination to deduce what you may have. Some combos are obvious so when you compare them to a questionable one you can sometimes rule out or identify other genes that are at play. A word of caution, I believe the Ball Python genome is prone to random mutation pretty often and you could end up with a new morph unexpectedly. If you do pop out something new, it will cause all kinds of confusion and it may take YEARS to sort it out. Some genes are also more prone to random variability as well. So just because two OD Fires don’t look identical doesn’t mean they are not both OD Fires.
Step 3: Perform an internet search. Certain mutations have been produced in abundance or maybe only one or two have been done, but most are posted online. A simple google search can give multiple examples to compare your animals against. If you can find the exact combo, search for similar combos. When I started producing the first OD Combos I often looked for the Enchi version of that combo since it was the closest thing to OD at the time.
Step 4: Post to a facebook group or forum. Believe me when I say there are a lot of very experienced breeders and hobbyist out there and they are happy to assist. Yes, there are a few posers and know it alls too, but I think most groups can be relied upon. Post to these forums and ask for assistance. To help improve the answer, you must provide adequate details and quality photos. Pics taken of animals in good light (AFTER THEY SHED!) with information on the sire and dam will improve the guidance you receive. Another benefit to taking this approach is that you may be helping others who have the same question or will have the same question in the future. Also, the breeder you may have wanted to email, text or PM may actually have some time and will chime in. I think having several breeders provide input is hands down the most reliable way to ID a combo through the power of brainstorming.
Anyway, I hope this helps and despite this post I will still try to assist when I receive a request. I am especially keen to respond to new, first time combos as I feel these are the most difficult (trust me, I know). But if I sense the request is coming from someone being lazy and wants to simply email me so they can get back to their game of fort nite… I won’t waste my time.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and good luck with your projects!