Spending $ on Spinning Spiders… Silly?

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”.

Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 3.10.02 PMStand 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!

spidersThe 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 codom 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…

Spider Highway

Spider Highway

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?

  1. 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!
  2. BBee_Clown

    Bumblebee Clown

    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.

  3. 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.
  4. It’s limiting – 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…

9 thoughts on “Spending $ on Spinning Spiders… Silly?

  1. I have respect to breeders who breed animals with obvious neurological defects. I can respect the animals because it’s not their fault, but the breeders? No way. Market trends should NOT be the ideal when it puts the animal at risk. Pugs are a market trend right now, along with their millions of issues due to inbreeding and ignored health issues. But hey, they’re a trend! Give em’ respect!

    No, no, no.

    We may be new to the hobby, but we’re not new to seeing breeders ignore their animal’s wellbeing for a bigger wallet, which is why we’re refusing to breed and buy spiders. We’re wanting to make a change, because that’s what we stand for as breeders. We’re here to better the species, not make it worse.

    Pretend your animals are fine all you want, but leave the new generation of breeders out of it. We have your genetic mess to clean up. Have some respect.

    • very self-righteous sentiment from an anonymous post…
      genetic mess to clean up? I have a beautiful spider mall and he’s no mess at all. If anything, he’s more active than most ball pythons I’ve been around, wobble and all. He’s a bit head-shy due to his young age, but he’s a joy to handle and feed, and I wouldn’t trade him for anything. As far as comparing a color morph in a snake to decades long genetic fuckery with a dog resulting in obvious respiratory issues, you’re reaching quite a bit. the spider gene would not have continued if it affected the animals quality of life, which i can definitely say it does not. hop off that soapbox.

    • No, the new gen isn’t here to clean anything up. I’m a fairly young ball python breeder, and I’ve never had any problems with the spider ball python. They wobble, but it doesn’t affect their health as the article states. I bet you work with cinnamons right? They have birth defects too, kinking, and duck billing. Champagnes do as well, Sables, Womas, stuff in the leucistic complex have issues with their eyes. Black Pastels have kinking. Bananas have skewed sex and morph rations, I had someone hatch out 5 banana 1 black pastel clutch from a Banana x Black Pastel pairing and all of the babies were male. The only 2 serious genetic defects we need to worry about and remove from the market are lethal combos and kinking. But removing kinking would mean to remove black pastels and cinnamons. And removing lethal combos would mean taking out spider complex ball pythons and champagnes, which no one wants to do. Fertility issues? Take out the whole albino and desert complex why not? Nearly every morph has it’s own issue, and just like the spider’s, they don’t normally affect the health besides the two I mentioned above. Just going to say, all of these snake issues are problems we created, in the EXACT same way we created them for dogs, and just like dogs, these problems are never going to disappear cause there is always going to be someone who wants a spider, or a cinnamon…….and there will always be someone who wants a pug.

    • Finally someone with some sense! I am a vet tech and I could go on and on about how we have ruined dogs like pugs and English Bulls. Choosing to ignore a neurological issue, regardless if it is debilitating or not, is irresponsible. This is why I’m not big into ball pythons. If it has a neuro issue it is not normal and should not be bred. But no one is going to agree with us unfortunately, same with dogs. Pug people like to ignore the fact their dogs cannot breathe and so on. Thank you for being a responsible breeder.

  2. Anonymous you’re really helping the species by bashing a bunch of people that pioneered the hobby you clearly now enjoy.

    The spider “defect” as you call it is just another inheritable genetic variation that seems to have little effect on the health of the individual specimens. Despite your concerns this morph has a well established ability to flourish in captivity, as Justin noted, they both feed and reproduce fine. I agree it’s clearly documented this is not a morph for a line breeding project but paired with other genes? How in any way is breeding this morph ( which is naturally occurring) a threat to the species? The fate of ball pythons in termite mounds all over Africa is in peril, spiders are coming!

    This morphs not going anywhere despite you thinking you speak for the new generation of breeders, as evidence by the array of Spider combos on the market and at every table at Daytona it’s still a titan of the ball python hobby. I’ll continue to support breeders like Justin who call it like it is over someone new with a big mouth and no balls hiding behind an anonymous comment anyday. Gotta feeling you’ll be onto trolling something else soon anyway while the old skool crowd keeps coming up with genetic living art. You’re the one that needs to find some respect.

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