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Bluetonguemorphs was inceptualised in 2005 after many years of breeding ‘wild type ‘ blue tongues. Morphs became our focus after Snake Ranch introduced into the hobby the first wild collected albino morph. Shortly after that the hypermelanistic or black blue tongue was also found and bred by them for the hobby market. Robert John Coward found and bred a white or hypo Bluetongue which was wild caught in NT of Australia from whom I purchased 2 males. From these three base morphs , Bluetonguemorphs was born.
The breeding facility comprises two separate buildings which are divided into multiple rooms, all climate controlled. The skinks are housed in both racks for babies and grow outs and later moved to individual tanks for breeder sized animals. The facility has a kitchen, preparation and packing areas and multiple storage areas in each set of rooms. I run the rooms at minimum 10C and max 32C.
The Morph Debate
I produce and breed morphs to supply an ever growing demand from enthusiasts. In the early days, many of the ‘purists’ and ‘locality’ specific herpers were very vocal in condemning my venture. Now as then , these are the statements and opinions that they forwarded, and the answers I had for them. With regards to locales specific blue tongue conservation, the argument that they were conserving the natural locale form is utter nonsense. A say naturally collected Turkey Creek’ locale northern is only that while it’s in its natural habitat and once removed is as much natural as are my morphs. Natural populations undergo constant changes in their morphology due to the pressures of their environment such as food availability, climatic changes, natural selection and mate selection.
Once the wild collected animal is placed in captive care, all of the above determinants are rendered obsolete and the animals start to undergo change with every population thereafter bred. You are determining their food source, you are determining their climate, you are determining who lives ( and rarely do they die), and most importantly you determine who they are mated to. In essence you are creating and artificial animal that is no more ‘pure’ than are my morphs. Natural selection has been totally removed from a natural standpoint and you are creating the ‘ human selection’ criteria. An animal in your care doesn’t need the patterns in colour that camouflage them from preditors , your animals don’t need to find food to survive, your animals don’t need to fight for their very existence and after all that you choose who they mate. After several generations they look nothing like the populations that remained untouched.
Mutations do occur in the wild, and need to, but unless they are an adaptive plus, the animal will quickly be predated. Choosing which animal mates who is based on colour combinations yielding more different or diverse colours and if your a responsible breeder, also increases the overall strength and longevity of the lines.
So when I get asked where are they from the standard answer is’ Melamine Mountain’ or more accurately now ‘ Glasshouse Mountain’. In Europe and the US, it’s the view that they have pure strains of say northern is unfounded . It applies only in that they were not interbred with a bluey from another continent. Their animals look nothing like any of the wild types and nor should they, they have been captive bred for eons.
Behaviourally my animals have changed significantly also. When born they are skittish and aggressive, a behavioural feature imbedded in their DNA, but after a very short period of time they become relaxed, take food from your hand and sleep out in the open ( something not seen in natural populations). Some have said that morphs are unnatural. Again many of the original morphs were found in the wild and all that has happened is morph producers use their knowledge of both genetics and trial based breedings to develop a greater range of colours.
Bluetonguemorphs has now developed several world firsts in blue tongue morph production as well as proving out one of the most controversial topics relating to the white Northern. False claims of its genetics being line bred right through to polymorphic were spurious at best, an argument that raged until I proved them out to be not only recessive but also co dom. The Platinum morph as well as visual heterozygous offspring, is testament to the co dom theory.
Breeding the skinks
Males and females are housed in seperate climate controlled areas as are newborns and growouts. Bluetonguemorphs prides itself in having developed temperature regimen to allow us to produce higher ratios of males to females as well as the reverse. By allowing females to be kept in lower temperature ranges while gravid, the ratio of females to males is able to be in the range of 80% females to 20% males.
Many attempts have been made by various keepers and vets to accurately sex the Tiliqua species. Various dye techniques are being used with mixed results and fairly costly. My concern is that no long term studies have been undertaken to see if there are any negative health issues after the testing. Some have tried probing with no advantageous results. Here at our facility I still sex them visually with 95% success rates.
All of our breeder stock are housed individually due to the aggressive nature of the animals. In the wild females hold the territories which they defend fiercely. Nomadic males enter these territories to mate with the resident female. I introduce males to the female cages when they come out of brumation which here is around end of July. Most introductions and matings are undertaken from this time onwards culminating in August. Young are born from end of November into January, ( blue tongues are live born). Young grow rapidly on a good diet and put on around 100g per month. Young must be separated by 10 days post birth as their territorial and aggressive nature starts to take hold and tails from siblings will be nipped off.
The Platinum Morph
This was the first double homozygous blue tongue morph produced in the world. It was the combination of the hypo northern mated to the hypermelanistic or black blue tongue. (2012). This was followed by the both the Platinum albino (Calypso) and the hypo albino (Sunglow). I have many projects still in the pipeline which are nearing completion.
The SunKissed Morph
In 2018 we produced a new morph but waited till March of 2019 before naming it as we wanted to see how it developed before we gave it an appropriate name. The combination of genes is the super hypo and the Lava. We have named it the ‘Sunkissed’ morph.
Caramel Ice (pure eastern T+)
In 2015 we embarked on a project to replicate an amazing caramel coloured albino that we originally purchased from Snake Ranch. It was a male and unique in its colouring, so it was very important for us to conserve his genetics.
We mated him to a standard Victorian grey/silver female to successfully produce 11 hets, 2 males and 9 females. In 2017 we mated the hets to produce a group of offspring that were better than we could have ever imagined. The caramel Ice morph had been created. We have had several other litters with the same recessive results.
Ethics vs Greed
One of the things that we have always prided ourselves on is the focus we have on the welfare of our animals.Sadly there are some in the industry that feel the need to take the unethical approach of forcing the animals by over feeding to gain what they believe is the best approach to deal with their competitors.
This is a total misconception and in fact minimises or reduces the longevity of the animals.If you have been an unfortunate victim to these unhealthy animals the first course of action is to slow down the growth rate. The animals growth rate has exceeded the ability for other parts of the body to have fully developed such as nones and in particular cranial areas. You often see these animals with distorted heads, spinal deformities and kinked tails just to mention a few. Unfortunately they are often misdiagnosed with MBD ( metabolic Bone Disease). This condition is mostly found in species that require a high UV rating, unlike bluetongues. I have never had MBD in my animals, animals that have never seen natural light.
Supply of our Morphs
We sell our morphs to the public. Unfortunately due to current legislation , reptiles can only be sold to license holders of both R1 and R2 licenses. We do not take pre orders as this creates to many issues as skinks do not always drop litters even after successful matings have taken place. Best time to contact us is in December if each year as this is the time females drop litters.
We currently breed Tiliqua scincoides ( both eastern and northern) morphs, Tiliqua occipitalis ( western Blue tongue), and Albino Carpet Pythons.
Pet or investment
Again I want to start off by thanking my subscribers for their patronage and support.
Bluetongues are now in brumation but over the next few months young will be appearing on the market and both new buyers and established breeders will be searching for animals. Decision time As to whether this will be a pet or an investment or both.
This topic can be quite controversial and one many breeders and keepers shy away from in fear of being ostracised and looked down upon. Unfortunately or fortunately, money makes the world go round, and as such nothing is for free. For those that know me I’m not one that backs away from a fight or argument, as long as it’s constructive and has content.
Keeping any animal has it’s reasons whether it be for company, passion or some financial gain, the fundamentals need to be the same…..animal welfare is paramount. Whether you have invested $100 or $10K the animals have a right to be treated in the the same caring manner.
As soon as someone mentions investment, profit or money in regards to animal keeping, out come the doomsayers and begrudge anyone who mentions these terms in a post. I have kept these amazing animals for close on 20 years and can categorically state that if I had kept them just for financial gain , I would today no longer be keeping them as my passion for these animals far outweighs the former. It takes years of funnelling money into the business before you see any returns, and this initial capital investment escalates the bigger you get. That is not to say your returns on investments isn’t there, it can be. Like any business venture, smart decisions must be made, especially if that’s the path you want to go down. I can tell you though that without passion, you will fail. I often hear comments about something being too expensive !!, based on what?. Market prices are usually projected on the norm, and if that’s what you wish to buy then that’s your choice. Morphs in bluetongues are in their infancy and new ones are being created each year, one offs or rare creations which are in short supply, will be costly. It’s the old ‘supply and demand.’ The creator basically can ask what they want or refuse to sell at all. These new morphs have taken years to develop and are eagerly sought after. High end morphs generally don’t fall into the pet category so let’s discuss the investment side. When the first hypermelanistic morphs we’re released by Snake Ranch they retailed at $2K for single gene animals, meaning they carried only the melanistic gene. Now more than a decade later they are still selling for $800 single gene up to $3K for multi gene. Animals containing the albino gene have served even better starting out at $1.5K over 15 years ago and today still demand the same price.
Super Hypo and White Northern
From the time of the White Northerns discovery and introduction into the reptile trade, it’s identity has been embroiled In controversy.Robert John Coward introduced the white northern into the hobby after having bred a number of them at his facility. It was claimed that they were the result from years of line breeding.
I purchased two of the white youngsters ( both males).
My intention was to finally prove out that they were in fact recessive and not line bred as was claimed. I received a lot of malicious comments from those that were aligned to those that believed the polygenic and line bred theories. In 2011 I paired one of the white northerns to an eastern hypermelanistic to produce 6 double hets. This pairing produced the first Platinum morphs, as well as white ‘Super Hypos’, hypers and hets. At the same time we also paired both males to 5 other normal eastern females. The results of these were 16 females and 10 males, all 100% het whites. In 2014 we paired and produced 35 white bluetongues of various degrees of whiteness. This conclusively proved out that the White Northern was in fact a simple recessive.
Since these progeny were not pure northerns I tagged them as ‘ Super Hypos’, a way to distinguish them from pure White Northern to a (x scincoides )animal. Some animals from the litters were a typical hypo and not the pure white type. Later pairings proved that the Super Hypos were in fact co dom, easily distinguishable from typical hypos, even at birth.
Due to the poor sperm viability of the White Northerns, after a while they almost disappeared from the trade except for a few examples. My Suoer Hypos pretty much dominated the industry and only the White Northerns in the Alabaster line created by Karen Russell existed. Unfortunately the waters were muddied by some unscrupulous breeders who after obtaining my lines chose to masquerade them as pure northerns. Unfortunately their deception is easily identified as the heterozygous offspring in my line have the typical eastern eyebands, and the heads of the x scincoides have longer more shapely heads.
All progeny produced from my Platinum line are not pure Northerns.
- Do I need a licence- yes current NSW legislation requires reptile keepers to hold an R1 for T. Scincoides and R2 for T. scincoides intermedia.
- Do morphs require any special care – no. Since they are descendants of wild types care and housing is the same. The albino morphs are more sensitive to light, but otherwise need same conditions.
- How big an enclosure – newborns are kept in R18 racking. If enclosure too large newborns have difficulty in sourcing food and water. Adults are are in glass enclosures 1200 x 45 x 30 high.
- Do they need UV light- I have seen no documented evidence that suggests that they do better with it. As long as a balanced diet containing vitamins and D3 for Calcium metabolism it is not a requirement.
- Do you have payment plans- not generally. Contact us for specific conditions.