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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Might As Well Face It...


Iron Hand in a Velvet Glove by =KuroKarasu on deviantART

...I'm addicted to lav. People who don't know me, meet Priscilla, a lavender corn snake (Pantherophis guttatus) who's a total spaz. Yes, she is named after Priscilla from Claymore; yes, she has a slight bump on her back that might be responsible for her occasional freakout.

Yes, she really is purple. She looked more purple as a baby, but she is still purple. Really.

Albinism is one thing. That mutation just turns off melanin- the pigment that makes animals black or brown. The idea of a purple animal is freaky on its own level, simply because mammals do not make purple. Everything with purple looks somehow unearthly.


It looked like a Purple People-Eater to me...

There are many variations on lavender/purple coloration in snakes. Strangely, instead of this coloration being limited to one species or subspecies, lavender-ism (phoenicism? I'm not sure there IS a proper scientific word for this, so I'm using the Greek word for purple) occurs throughout species and genera. There are lavender retic and ball pythons, kingsnakes, corn snakes, and although they REALLY do not look the part, cobras. The lavender trait has also been found in some lizards.

Now, I'm not a scientist. I do not know the molecular mechanics behind every color of the rainbow. My educated guess, judging primarily from the light purple found in caramel ball pythons, is that lavender coloration has something to do with the enzyme tyrosinase.



Tyrosinase is one factor that goes into an albino animal's coloration. In ball pythons, a T+ albino is called a caramel (above), and a T- albino is, well...a normal albino. White skin with yellow patches...y'know, as normal as albinos get.

The same enzyme also oxidizes dopamine, the chemical known for regulating pleasure, so there may be more merit to the 'drug trip' idea than one would think. (This effect will only be strengthened by my pending 'Molave' project...shhh.)

As one site so delicately put it, as they mature, lavender ball pythons look like they are 'glowing under blacklight.' That is the case with young lavender albino reticulated pythons as well. As young lavender 'tics grow, however, they become more yellow than orange...



...becoming one of the most beautiful snakes in the world. Wow. Beat that, Canis lupus familiaris!

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