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.
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.