In 2008, a picture and story of an amazingly odd snake was published on a popular Online field-collecting chat forum.
The species was as yet unknown, but the story cited that the 33"-long mostly white snake was captured in a back yard
in South Carolina. It was sold to a snake keeper who published pictures and stories about the snake, but exactly what
species it was was not apparent. It had the build of a Ratsnake
(Corn Snakes are in this North American Colubrid snake family) and
from scale counts it was later decided that it was surely a corn snake.
Other than being featured on that web site, the snake was exhibited in
one or more Commercial Reptile Expos in states surrounding South Carolina.
It was the collective opinion of those who saw it in person that it's body, head shape
and calm demeanor surely suggested that it was a Corn Snake. But was its appearance
(mostly white with random variably colored scales) due to a reproducible gene mutation or was
this merely a genetic freak that could not be reproduced?
Don Soderberg of South Mountain Reptiles in Texas purchase the snake from its new owner and the adult
male Corn Snake (later named PALMETTO) was shipped to Texas. Palmetto was chosen as a name for this unique
and beautiful corn snake for the state in which it originated (Palmetto is the official nickname for South Carolina, referring
to the state tree, the Sabal Palmetto, Inodes palmetto). In so much as Don did yet not know if this snake could reproduce its appearance,
he felt that a morph name that did not conjure a phenotype (appearance) would be appropriate. In a few short years, Don bred the wild Palmetto to a few novel female corns, rendering what initially appeared to be wild-type corn snakes (corns that generally looked like any wild corn you'd see in the wild). When those first captive generation (F1) hatchling corns were over a year old, it became obvious that they were changing from typical wild-like corns to what most would call Hypomelanistic corns (so named for their pale and reduced black overall appearance). Among hatchlings from the second captive generation (the F2s) were hatchlings like the F1 wild-types, but also predominantly pink ones with sparse and faint colored freckling. This proved that indeed the Palmetto was a heritable gene mutation, and because there was an intermediary pheontype that was not wild-type, the mode of inheritance is considered to be incomplete dominance. In other words, the gene mutation Palmetto is incompletely-dominant to wild type, so, like serpent mutants whose inheritance is recessive to wild-type, it takes two successive generations to reproduce visual Palmettos (homozygotes).
Don was looking to free up some time to work on his book and we were looking to expand out corn snake collection. So after several weeks of talks we came to an agreement to purchase his entire Palmetto project. On the Fourth of July 2015 we made a quick road trip from Kansas to Texas and came home with the most beautiful corn snake collection in the country.