First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to read this blog as it has been something I’ve wanted to do for a while I just didn’t take the time to do so. Secondly, I need it to be understood that some of the statements within this blog are actual facts that cannot be disputed (like where did the original Gamma come from); other statements are my own personal experiences with jags, my strong opinion based on those experiences and may not reflect what you have experienced. I have maybe not have as many jags as some but I have certainly had and raised up more than most so at least in the confines of my own house I feel pretty confident in my techniques and ideals with jags specifically Gamma jags. Please read them and if applicable try some of the things with your animals with the understanding that it may or may not work for you.
Ok now that we got that out of the way; what is a jaguar carpet python? The jaguar gene is a co-dominate trait or mutation that was discovered in Coastal Carpet Pythons. The mutation can be defined as a reduced pattern overall on the snake and tends to create wildly variable patterns within the overall reduction of the base pattern of a normal coastal or in the cases now anything that a jag is bred to. As life would have it we are in this hobby for various reasons and being able to produce viable off-spring is certainly one of them. However; the jaguar mutation carries a neurological impairment that could cause in some animals corkscrewing, head tremors and or poor overall movement. More on that later. Flash forward a bit to a time when the jaguar gene was prevalent in collections all over the world but we will stop in Canada.
What is a Gamma? A collector and breeder in Canada named Jeff Favelle paired an average looking male Jungle Jaguar to a female Diamond Jungle and produced a clutch of babies which as nomenclature has it these days a mix of Diamond Jungle Jaguars (DJJ) and Diamond Jungle Crosses (Normal looking siblings or sibs). As you may or may not know you will always have a mixture of jags and sibs. The ratio varies from clutch to clutch as I have had a 50/50 split an awesome 75/25 split (jags 75%) to a 10/90 split (only one jag).
Two females out of Jeff’s clutch stood out; one animal made its way down to the US and ended up in the collection of John Battaglia and one stayed with Jeff. John (not sure when) named his Gamma (ultimately coining the name for the line) and Jeff named the line for his female Neon.
Updated Note**The clutch that produced the original Gamma female and the Neon Line animal Jeff Favelle ended up keeping was produced by Don Patterson who at the time was partnered with Jeff on breeding projects. I felt it was important to make sure that was stated and corrected.
Again, on that note I am not sure when Jeff coined the line name. Gamma turned into an unreal fluorescent yellow snake that seemed far superior to anything John had seen at the time, he proceeded to pair Gamma to various 75% Diamond-Jungles and Jungles he had in his collection producing what is now Gamma Line clutches. With each pairing and successful hatched clutch more unreal fluorescent animals were produced that over time did not fade and or darken with age. John still has a male Gamma (Gamma5) that is at least 10-11 years old that is just as bright as it was when it was a 2-year-old. As more clutches were produced more animals found themselves in the hands of private collections across the US. I ended up with my first two Gammas in 2013 as adults that I purchased from Kurt Finnegan thus starting my goal of producing high quality Gamma’s. Funny enough the name of my first male was Ener John B (named by Kurt) as a tribute to John for the line. Ener was short for Energy because of his intense color. Ener John has since left us; below is one of the last pictures I took of him...
So, as I had my goals to produce the best Gammas that I could, I paid special attention to what others were doing in regards to pairing and mixing other mutations with the Gamma jag mutation and I settled on only pairing my animals to straight jungles after not being totally satisfied with my first two pairings. My very first pairing, all of the eggs perished actually during incubation and it was a Gamma jag x Gamma jag pairing. My 2nd pairing was Gamma DJJ x Precision Line Zebra Jag and man was I stoked to come home that clutch. I ended up producing 3 jags out that clutch, one was a nice normal gamma jag (if you can call it that), the second was a partially striped Gamma and the 3rd was an outstanding Gamma Zebra DJJ.
Pairing a jag x jag will produce (or could produce) the super form of the jag mutation which is a lucy or leucistic animal which in addition to the already preexisting neurological issues usually dies within hours of hatching if it hatches at all because of a heart or lung issues and or a combination of the two. I lucked out and dodged that bullet by not having in lucy’s at all but I decided then that it was something that I did not want to risk.
My 3rd pairing which ultimately ended up being the best at the time was a Gamma DJJ (Ener) x Turner Jungle (Tina Turner). She laid 23 eggs and I hatched out 12 Gamma Jags from that clutch and man were they outstanding. At that time was when I decided without a doubt that I will look for the best Jungles I could find to pair with my Gammas going forward and my collection of Gammas started to grow. I have been lucky and have produced some awesome animals and have been delighted to have animals that I have hatched out produce their own babies as well. After Tina Turner (pictured below left); it was Mrs Hare (Hare Jungle) who is owned by Vito Giannini; that stepped in a filled the role as the Queen Bee of the breeding group.
They key and goal for John that I have adopted was to continually produced jags that were brighter than most and maintained their color their entire life. The majority of mine that I have produced have done just that.
I have now shifted my focus from color (still the goal) to certain traits that can be repeated and passed down to the offspring like striped and ocellated animals. Below is a partially striped-ocellated female I produced along with a really reduced pattern partially striped female.
In addition, I absolutely do not mix my Gammas with any other jag line regardless of how good it looks because well then it no longer would be a gamma jag right? The only exception that I will make in the future is the Neon line since it is essentially the same family (same original clutch); more on that later. Which leads me to this; in order to produce a Gamma jag, the jag must come from a Gamma jag parent whether it is the sire or the dam. Breeding a normal clutch mate (sib) to another non-Gamma jag does not produce Gamma jags. You have a jag from whatever line that is. I label the sibs as Gamma siblings because in their own right they turn out to be bright colored crosses but they are just that; “Diamond-Jungle Crosses”. The only deviation I will have from this rule as I mentioned above is a Neon line jag as the sister jag of Gamma (Xenon) who was ultimately owned by Solana V. also produced very clean bright jags that also produced brightly colored jags as well. At least for me I have only had one straight Neon line jag that has exceeded my expectations and is in line with what I would expect from my Gamma clutches as seen in the pic below.
Since their parentage is the same I am going to work backwards in future pairings to inject a certain trait into the Gamma side of the family tree. The Neons that I have had experience with outside of the one that I currently have in my collection did not maintain their intense yellow throughout their entire adult life. There a few but not many that I have personally seen. The Dam of the Neon that I currently own is to date unreal (pictured below).
Over the years as I mentioned, I have strived to pair Gamma jags to only A+ grade animals to preserve the quality, appearance, and improve the health of the offspring (color, pattern, minimized effects of Neuro).
To date, there hasn’t been a single pairing in my collection, or people I collaborate with, where I wouldn’t have considered either animal a “trophy animal”. Some have called my line of Gamma Jags the “Rosemond” Line and that would represent all the work that has gone into refining the Gamma jag since 2013. I personally do not call them that but I am not going to lie; it is flattering to hear and keeps me excited to continue to push the envelope.
Contrary to popular believe my collection is not made up of mostly Gammas any more. I have narrowed it down to specific animals for very specific traits. In addition, there are a few people that have Gammas that I or others have produced so it’s is really cool to see what they pair their animals to and what kind of pattern their pairings produce. My friend Vito G and I have swapped Gammas or sent jungles to each other to try and push the envelope even further in regards to patterns or lack thereof. Some exciting stuff coming up in the real near future so look out for that.
Neuro….yes the dreaded word. So here is where the disclaimer “in my experience” comes into full effect. The common thought (could be a scientific thought) is that all jags have neuro in some way shape or form whether it is very slight, barely noticeable or extreme in which case the animal corkscrews or moves around upside down. I believe based on my experience that not all jags have neuro but all jags are susceptible to developing symptoms that can be worsened by husbandry techniques. I have spent a lot of time with my animals that I keep looking for any slight tremor or odd behavior and I have to say I would be willing to bet that a few of the jags I personally have exhibit absolutely no signs of neuro. Only the jags in any given clutch exhibit or has the potential to develop neuro symptoms not the normal clutch mates.
That being said I treat them (jags) as if they do have it as my husbandry techniques reflect that conscious effort. Some signs of neuro can be noticed right at hatching other signs can develop over time and some can be triggered by certain parameters. Heat (too hot), stress, not enough space, no hiding place (security) all can contribute to the onset of neuro behavior. I typically keep my snakes a lot cooler any way but special attention is paid to my gammas to ensure the cages or tubs for babies to yearlings are not excessively hot and have a nice thermal gradient. I ensure that there is ample space and a place to retreat to for security. I do not use glass tanks for any of my snakes actually; to ensure outside movement that does not involved cleaning is eliminated or reduced to a minimum. And probably one of the most important and hardest for some to adhere to with such beautiful snakes is I do not routinely pick up my snakes and hold them, play with etc. The only time I do pick up any of my snakes for that matter is during cleaning. Just a side note “but how do you tame your snakes”? Snakes generally in my experience calm down regardless of how much effort you put into trying to “tame” them. Yes, there is the odd ball snake or species that are a bit psychotic but for the most part carpets as a general rule calm down and become confident collected adults.
Why breed jags? That is a question that’s almost just as bad as discussing political views as some people are completely against it siting that its cruel for the animals etc. My thoughts on the matter is simple; regardless of the size of the enclosure or how hard we try to mimic the natural habitats, we keep snakes (reptiles) in a glorified box as a hobby. In doing so I feel that each of us does the best we possibly can to ensure our snakes are comfortable and overall healthy. I happen to like the jag mutation but at the same time I wouldn’t crop the ears or cut the tails of my dog because it looks cool. It’s a personal preference and I feel that people should not cast stones when they are doing the same thing in some area of their own lives.
You do not like jags, don’t buy any and don’t follow pages and or people that have them. You will have eliminated that negativity from your life creating an open space to add some happy thoughts to.
Is that a Gamma?
There has been a lot of misrepresentation of the label “Gamma” at many shows and online stores or even some classified ads. If your animal or one you are considering can’t be traced back to a or several generations of actual GAMMA jags then it would be wise to move along. Lineage charts and ease of picture taking has made it very easy to produce proof, and must be made available when dealing with investment-quality animals. Gammas typically color up over their first year and peak @ 1.5 years old if fed on a normal schedule. Below is typical of what I expect at 6-8 months on the left and what I expect (same snake) at 12-14 months on the right.
Pictures of Gamma jags are everywhere, if something you are considering doesn’t look like a classic Gamma jag then that is a red flag. There is a “line” of Gamma’s that has been coined as the Sharp Gamma Line. The ”line” itself started from actual Gamma jags that were paired together. The result was tipped and a bit of a orange hue color on most of them as opposed to the fluorescent yellow color most typical of the Gamma line. Not sure how and why the variance exist but it does. There are a few Sharp Gamma's that I have seen that did exhibit a nice yellow base. Pictured below is an exceptional example of a Sharp Gamma. You can notice the tipped pattern as opposed to the clean yellow area.
Needless to say please for yourself and your hard earned cash that you are dishing out ask for lineage info and pictures. The Gamma owner circle is small due to the fact that #1, jags are not plentiful in most clutches and #2, there are holdbacks that are kept for breeding stock. With that in mind, the breeder circle is even smaller than the owner circle, and most people who keep them raise them up to proper age and size before breeding, so it is not hard to trace back where a particular animal came from.
Is that picture photoshopped?
I and some fellow breeders of Gamma jags often get asked about photo editing. Its easy to look at a picture of a Gamma jag and question the pictures authenticity. My pictures are not photoshopped - the animals striking color and appearance are actually not represented well enough by most cell phone cameras. The Gamma jags you see online really do look like that and in most cases BETTER in person. There is nothing better than walking into my snake room and seeing a true Gamma jag literally glowing in its cage. Its fun to snap a picture to share with the world what they look like even if its not as good as seeing the real thing in person.
So that is my spin on what, why and when in regards to Gammas. There are plenty more things that can be discussed so please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope it was enlightening or at least entertaining. If you have any questions please fill free to shoot me a message or e-mail.