I know this sounds stupid, but what's the difference between Banded Leucomelas and British Guyana Leucomelas? And is it okay to keep them together? What if they breed?
There's a lot to unpack here. I agree it's a pity that wild-phenotype ruthveni are pretty much unavailable on the private market, and I have never been into albinos, hybrids, or any such horseshit. The fact that albinos popped up at all in this species' US captive population is probably a function of tiny founder size in the captive population:Those of us who see all the junky hybrids/crosses/intergrades in the larger herp hobby as detrimental to the hobby, and a waste of animals whose wild populations are declining because of pet trade collection, are strongly against such thoughtless breeding. For example, Lampropeltis ruthveni ( a mountain kingsnake) is like this, and they are now illegal to export from their native range so the hobby wrecked the captive population irreversibly.
Most keepers think that keeping morphs pure is the best breeding strategy. ... all the junky hybrids/crosses/intergrades in the larger herp hobby (are) detrimental to the hobby
This, I believe.Or are they allopatric "locality morphs"?
My understanding is that the doors closed in the late 80s. I keep knoblochi, the founding captive US population of which was said to be collected in the mid 80s. In Hubbs' Mt Kings book, he says that ruthveni were first collected for the US trade in 1982.Mexico has been closed a LONG time to wild animal export,
I sure didn't mean to imply that. You're right, of course -- all the Mexican colubrids came into the US in small numbers. I tried to say that the captive stocks that exist currently are all we have and will have in captivity (i.e. we cannot collect more for captive culture, for the reasons you mention) and I'm told that none of those captive ruthveni are known to be unhybridized. I'm not referring just to the slew of X thayeri, alterna, greeri, mex mex, etc hybrids that are available currently (although all that is bad enough), but the early breeding of ruthveni is said to have involved crosses that were sorted and sold as species by appearance.But saying ruthveni is (or ever was) declining because of illegal collection is absurd.
This is a point on which I agree 100%. There are so very many taxa and localities of the things I love, that used to be in routine trade (and stupid cheap, too), which are no longer available. It's a crying shame that they were never established in captivity, because there's no getting any more of them from their native range. Occasionally you will see zoo-bred stock from Russia or whatever - and no, I'm not talking about "laundered" smuggled animals, these are legit CBB - but the founder population is tiny so these animals are really just walking dead, long-term genetically.My point is that we can't (in many cases, or just shouldn't in others) just get more WC animals -- we need to keep the captive lines we have pure, and available.