Dan Johnson Captive Bred Snakes

Lajitas Alterna (Lampropeltis alterna)

Lajitas is located on Route 170 (River Road) in the southwestern corner oftd>   Brewster County (Map). It is one mile from the Presidio County line and is situated next to the Rio Grande. Lajitas is considered by some to be a subset of the broader "River Road" locality which would also includes "Pepper's Hill", "Big Hill", and "Mud Flats".

Lajitas alterna, like most western populations of alterna, are highly variable. Blairs and alterna phases are both common, although the majority are alterna. Saddles can be diamonds, bow ties or uniform rings. Speckles and triple alternates are frequently present, especially on the neck. The amount of orange, width of black and form of alternates (dots, bars, broken bars) all vary considerably. Background color is typically medium to light gray, buckskin or brown.

My collection consists of 3.4 specimens, all but one are adults (see breeder table below). The quality as a whole is outstanding, with most specimens rating between an 8 and a 10. My butterfly morph and ultraspeckled alterna, which are discussed at length below, are the highlights of the collection. Other specimens worthy of special note are a heavily triple alternated snake (laj93a0001) and a snake with unusual orange centered alternates (laj96a0001).

Sporting dramatic dorsally constricted saddles, my butterfly morph (laj97a0001) is one of the most unique specimens of alterna in captivity. Measuring as much as 12 scales wide laterally, the saddles narrow to only 2-3 scales dorsally, completely pinching out the orange. They are shaped like butterflies and thus give the morph it's name. Out of this bloodline, two or three other specimens with similar patterns have been produced (although none were as dramatic), indicating a high probability that the pattern is genetic. Adding to the genetic argument is the fact that slight dorsal constriction of saddles is not unusual among Brewster County alterna. The butterfly may be just an exaggerated version of a common pattern. As for reproducing this pattern however, it remains to be seen how easily this will be accomplished. As of this writing, my one and only butterfly morph, a young female, has not previously produced offspring. I plan to breed her to her father (laj97a0002). He is very ordinary in appearance, but has a slight hint of the pattern (look closely) and has produced other offspring that show this tendency. One would think that breeding him to an actual butterfly morph would significantly increase the odds of producing one of these gems.

My ultraspeckled male (laj95a0001) is the most speckled Lajitas alterna that I'm aware of and one of the most speckled alterna I've seen anywhere. Except for the breeding of the butterfly morph female, he will be the male of choice for siring clutches, provided he is willing and viable. I plan to breed him to 2 females.

Previous years offspring have proven to be highly variable. Be sure to check out the pictures of last year's production (see clutches produced table below). With the addition of the butterfly morph to the breeding colony and with the ultraspeckled male coming on line, I anticipate this year's offspring to be even better.

Virtually all captive produced Lajitas are progeny of 3 specimens collected in the late '80s, two were collected by Craig Hodgson and the third by Rick Green. These wildcaughts include two typical medium alterna phase (lajhdg0002) and a medium gray blairs (lajhdg0003). The colony derived from these specimens has consistently produced offspring since the time they were collected. It is very interesting to note that the tremendous variety of patterns that can be seen in the "Hodgson bloodline", including the butterfly morph and the ultraspecked alterna, came from only three typical specimens.

Several other Lajitas alterna have been collected, but most have never produced pure locale-specific offspring. The only exception I'm aware of is a female recently collected by Tim Gebhard. She produced her first pure Lajitas clutch in '97.

Considering the extremely limited gene pool, an important question is whether inbreeding depression might be a problem for this group. As far as I've seen, this does not seem to be the case. The animals I've acquired and produced seem to have faired as well as any other group I've worked with.

Text written 2/28/98

Clutches Produced
Clutch ID
Date Laid
Hatch Date
laj0001 Photos

6/1/2000 8/6/2000 66 8 4 1
laj9701 Photos laj94a0001 lajhdg0001 5/18/1997 7/16/1997 59 7 5 0
laj9702 Photos laj96a0001 lajhdg0001 5/22/1997 7/20/1997 59 6 5 1
laj9801 Photos

5/18/1998 7/16/1998 59 12 6 2
laj9802 Photos laj94a0001
5/17/1998 7/16/1998 60 8 0 8
laj9803 Photos laj96a0001
5/24/1998 7/22/1998 59 6 6 0
laj9804 Photos laj95a0002
6/23/1998 8/19/1998 57 5 5 0
laj9805 Photos laj94a0001
7/11/1998 9/8/1998 59 9 9 0
laj9901 Photos laj94a0001
5/27/1999 7/25/1999 59 7 6 0
laj9902 Photos laj95a0002
5/28/1999 7/26/1999 59 5 4 0
laj9903 Photos

6/8/1999 8/7/1999 60 8 2 1
laj9904 Photos laj96a0001
6/21/1999 NA NA 6 0 3

Back to Home Page

© 2003 Dan Johnson