During the summer of 2011, a Colorado breeder by the name of Nick Stark unveiled pictures of a new gecko morph he had been working on, combining the blizzard gene with the tangerine gene specifically found in the “Tangelo” morph, originating with Ron Tremper. These geckos were very brightly colored, with color extending down the legs and onto the heads, sometimes overtaking the entire head. His account of the project can be found here: http://geckoforums.net/f124-show-off-your-leos/82914.htm and here: http://geckoforums.net/f124-show-off-your-leos/78540.htm
HYPOTHESIS: The tangerine at work in the Sunset/Sunrize Blizzard morph is, in fact, recessive. Adhering to genetic probability, visual and non-visual animals will be bred to one another, and the resulting offspring should produce results consistent with a recessive trait.
Met with skepticism and what I believe to be a poor understanding of the tangerine gene found specifically in these animals, the project struggled to gain traction in the gecko marketplace, with very few being sold for the original asking price. During this initial year of offering, I worked to leverage my longtime relationship with Sean Niland (VMSherp.com), to try to acquire some of these animals. Through the process, I developed a rapport with Nick as well, and came to appreciate more and more the amount of work that he had put in, and get a sense of the frustration that it didn’t seem to have the visibility that he thought it deserved. With luck, I was included into the project, with a group of 2.3 first and second generation sunsets added to my collection. John from Geckoboa Reptiles also received a sizable group, giving us two dedicated efforts to learning more about the potential of these geckos. I’ll let John release his own findings, as this article is solely dedicated to my experience, results, and future intentions.
I believe I approached this project a little differently than others, as I wanted to focus more on the tangerine aspect, as that is where I believe the real key to understanding lies. Sean and Nick have both maintained that this tangerine is recessive, BEFORE the development of the sunrise and sunset blizzards, which is where I wanted to start. I had already added tangerine albinos to my collection in the form of two females; a “super tangelo” originally produced by Pat at Luxurious Leopards, and a tangerine albino from VMSherp, a line that has been worked for several years by Nick and Sean, and does not display any of the characteristic “sunglowing” that the “super tangelos” do. In 2012, the VMS tangerine was not ready to breed, but the “super tangelo” was older and ready to go, so I bred her to my super giant high yellow male, an animal completely lacking any tangerine. Production was poor, with only two eggs hatched, both males, and both wildly different than the other.
One evident truth was discovered immediately, though, and that was that the “super” in the “super tangelo” IS a misnomer. This is not a co-dominant form, at least from this initial result. One male is bold and patterned, with little tangerine and no other real resemblance to its mother. The other came out hypomelanistic, which really raised some questions. It was, however, discovered that this may be coming from the father, which has produced hypomelanistic animals in 2013, bred to different females. Perhaps that’s just a strange anomaly, but still enough to make things a bit confusing. I bred this male back to his “super tangelo” mother in 2013, and produced an array of hypo and non-hypo animals, but significantly, many lacking any tangerine. The bold, non-tangerine male was bred to the VMS tangerine, female, sadly producing only one baby, a nice looking tangerine albino. This male will be used in 2014 to continue this section of the project, bred to his tangerine daughter and to a sunset blizzard.
Where the blizzards are concerned, only one female sunset ovulated, and was bred to one of my sunset males, producing three offspring, all brightly colored but lacking any color on the neck or heads. Those animals are growing up but very young, so I will keep an eye on their progress. Conversely, the other sunset male was bred to two females, a super giant mack snow and a giant blizzard het diablo blanco. Offspring from the mack snow are expectedly lacking color, whether snow or not. The offspring from the blizzard female displayed significant color at hatching, but are all fading noticeably already. Again, to be expected according to my assumptions based on Nick’s insistence that this tangerine is truly recessive. It is also not uncommon for blizzards to hatch out very yellow, which only adds to the skepticism. By comparing the progress through time, though, I think it makes sense that if the sunset animals develop more color as they age, whereas the “hets” lose color, we have some information to work with. It is also worth noting that the mother of the sunset babies this year faded tremendously through the breeding season, losing nearly all color. Perhaps that’s simple variability, or maybe there’s more to it. Next year will help answer that question, when the two really nicely colored sunset females that did not breed this year should produce some offspring.
While my inclination is to maintain initial assumptions that this tangerine is in fact a recessive trait, I have not produced a body of work with enough sample size to state as much definitively. Another season of trials will need to be assessed, and hopefully a much more decisive conclusion will be reached.
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