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Probably the most sought after and bred boa on the world market today is the Albino Boa. Back in 1970 Dr. Bernard Bechtel published his opinion that it would be better to call albino snakes "Amelanistic" rather than "Albino". Amelanism meaning "lacking melanin" or black pigment. In his 1995 book however, Dr. Bechtel, after further research and breeding revised his previous definition of Albino from Amelanistic to "having absent or deficient melanin"  There are two distinct forms of Albino Boa. The T+ and the T- or caramel albino. It is a common mistake to think that an albino animal is pure white in coloration. Actually an albino animal can be multi-colored including some shades of black and gray (T+ albino). In the T- albino the base color is normally a shade of yellow, sometimes with red or pink included.The saddles usually appear to be reduced in size owing to the missing black pigment that is now white. The tail blotches are either a shade of red or white depending on the parental stock. The T+ albino can vary considerably in coloration. As mentioned earlier this form of albino can have some shades of black due to another enzyme "dopaquinone" (more on this latter).

         At the time of this writing there are three unique and distinct forms of Albino Boa Constrictor Imperator on the World Market today. The first one to be recognized was the "Original or Kahl Strain". This was first produced by Pete Kahl and makes up the majority of albino boas on the market and in captivity. The second strain is known as the "Sharp Strain" and was produced by Brian Sharp. Even though these are both T- forms of amelanism they are evidently linked to different genes or alleles. When both forms are bred together, normal looking boas are the result. The third form of albino boa is the "T+" or "Caramel Albino". These are the newest form to enter the market. They were originally produced, unintentionally at a pet store in Texas, in 1997, by crossing two seemingly normal animals.

       Confused yet? (T+ or T-) The T stands for Tyrosinase, an enzyme needed for the production of melanin. It catalyzes the first two steps in the production of melanin. In step one the amino acid "tyrosine" is turned into a compound called "dopa". Step two turns "dopa" into "dopaquinone". The dopaquinone then  goes through a multi-step process to produce melanin. The T- albino, not having Tyrosinase can't initiate the first two steps toward the production of melanin. Therefore it has no black pigment whatever.

         T+ or caramel albino creates Tyrosinase and therefore starts the first two steps in the production of melanin. After that the process breaks down for lack of an enzyme. Each step in the dopaquinone multi-step to melanin process requires a different enzyme but which enzyme is lacking is not known. It's been discovered that dopaquinone is also a precursor in the production of other pigments as well. Dark gray, lavender gray, dark yellow, red, brown, a nd even black are a few of the tyrosine-based melanin-related pigments. Dopaquinone is itself black, this is why a T+ or caramel albino can have shades of black while producing no melanin at all.

        Brian Sharp has produced a Surinam/Columbian or Boa Constrictor Constrictor/Boa Constrictor Imperator Albino Boa cross. Brian is asking twice as much for this new morph as his "Sharp Strain".  We believe the original or Kahl strain was used in this cross. Most of the Albino crosses have been created using the Kahl strain albino. This leaves all of these crosses awaiting creation with the "Sharp Strain Albino". If a sunglow boa is beautiful, how much more beautiful using the Sharp Strain Albino? Very little has been done with the Sharp strain, but we see this situation changed in the very near future. The only question now is, will you be a part of this or just sitting on the side lines watching it all happen. 

       We are one of the few making available to the world this highly prized and sought after form of the Albino Boa Constrictor. We anticipate this morph to hold it's market price for years to come.

Text by Steve Ori of A Forgotten Realm