Almost weekly I get emails or comments from people saying how much they hate the Spider gene because of the wobble. Or they say they don’t understand how anyone could work with it because the animals are defective, or how it’s irresponsible to breed an animal that’s obviously “messed up.”
Stand back people, there’s a new generation of Ball Python enthusiasts and they just don’t understand why people still work with Spiders. “Contamination of the species?” Please… This sort of talk always irks me. Not because their arguments are wrong or I think that everyone should have a Spider, but if you love ball Pythons, give a little respect to this industry titan!
The Spider could easily be the most pivotal and important morph ever discovered. Not just because of what it was, but because of when. It’s a morph that gave rise to the hobby that we enjoy today. Many newcomers forget that we initially had a very small original palette of morphs and most were recessive. The Spider gene created the very first incomplete dominant combos that looked nothing like regular Ball Pythons. Imagine what could be possible with a gene like this?!
Suddenly, amazing combos were available to the masses who didn’t want to fiddle with “Hets” and the years of work recessives require.** When we saw Kevin’s first Bumblebee, many of us realized that it really could be possible to create combos that were beyond our wildest dreams! **Note: I love recessives… my entire business model revolves around them…
An honest look at the facts: Spiders often wobble. Some call it spinning. Depending on what your specific spider does, either term could be accurate. Even at rest, they often hold their head cocked slightly to the side. When held, they may loop around in a wonky way and owners can often find them laying or exploring with their head nearly upside down.
Not all Spiders are affected to the same extent and I would even say that many if not most have symptoms that are so slight a layperson wouldn’t notice. Others are very obviously weird in their behavior.
More important facts: Spiders are great eaters. The are great breeders. They thrive. It’s extremely rare to have one where its behavior impacts its health or viability. There is no reason to suspect they have less quality of life compared to any other Ball Python. They are key to hundreds / thousands of amazing combos that are not possible independent of the Spider gene.
No amount of outcrossing will change the strange behavior attached to this morph… they are what they are. Because of its early arrival to the hobby, there is no other gene that is as outcrossed as the Spider. Nobody is out there purposefully breeding Spiders to make their spins worse. The expression of weird behavior from the gene seems pretty random based on my own experience.
Having said all of that, I’ll counter point. In my collection I’m working with fewer Spiders than ever.. Probably will continue to decrease the few I do still have. Why?
- They do act strange – Call it weird or endearing, Spiders are often not normal behaving Ball Pythons. No denying it. It may not bother the animal, but yeah sometimes it does bother me!
- Options – There are so many mutations available now with so much potential, having too many of one of them is a negative in a world-class collection. Also, without a super form / lethal super, having too many Spiders in breeding stock can seriously limit pairing options
- Prejudice – Like it or not, many new enthusiasts view the Spider not for the titan it has been, but simply as one flawed mutation out of hundreds of good choices. As a breeder who sells offspring, I do keep market trends in mind.
- Limitations – With any very strong pattern color morph, it takes combos in a strong direction, which is awesome! However it also means that if you overuse it, all your combos will start to look alike. Variety is key!
So in closing, I do understand your right and desire to steer clear of Spiders but please… Have some respect!
A few Spider combos I’ve made over the years…