Eastern Blue Tongue question

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Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby Crreptiles » Thu Jun 20, 2019 6:38 pm

Forgive me if this is a dumb question.
What is the stance on breeding different locales of Eastern blue tongues together? Is it ok? Is it frowned upon? I’ve tried to research online the different locales but it seems like science classifies them all as Easterns and doesn’t go into details about the different locales.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby mb606587 » Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:52 pm

No controversy there. Easterns are tough to come by here. If you can breed same locales, great. If not, nobody is going to lose sleep over it.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby splashy07 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:24 am

I currently keep both locales, QLD and NSW. I have not been able to find a mate for my male QLD. They do not look alike at all, and lack the temporal streaks of the NSWs. I would no more breed two different locales than I would with shinglebacks. They are not like Northerns, it is not just a color difference. They actually look like a different species and I simply would not do it. There surely will be some controversy here, but some prefer the QLD locale and others the NSWs and it is important to keep them separate. I wouldn't breed an IJ with a Merauke either, think about it.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby mb606587 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 9:57 am

*Probably shouldn't post after a night of heavy imbibement otherwise I'd have worded my first post waay different but

Splashy I do see your point in that, although IJ's and Meraukes are not only different subspecies but different species altogether. I think it would be more akin to breeding a Kimberly locale Northern to a Darwin locale Northern. There are differences in appearances between both but people still commonly breed them. I probably misspoke when I said no controversy there, probably more so my opinion than fact, but this is an interesting question. As more and more people are breeding Easterns, it's an issue that's sure to come up with differing views.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby splashy07 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 12:54 pm

In my circles it is simply not done. Others may do what they wish, as long as they state that when selling their offspring. IMO, it would completely lower the value.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby Crreptiles » Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:02 pm

I don’t mean to stir anything up I just think it’s a very interesting topic. From what I’ve read NSW and Brisbane locales overlap. Is it just the Eyeband and coloration that differed between the two? Is there a size difference? Body structure? Husbandry requirements?
You would figure science would classify them as a separate species. I know the aussies hybridized the northerns and Easterns all the time. I’m not saying I agree with that but would you say that we frown more upon that since we don’t have a genetic pool to get pure animals from?(That being any other country outside of Australia.)
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby mb606587 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 2:23 pm

You have very purist beliefs about keeping locality lines pure. If I ever had any interest in working with Easterns, which I currently do not, I'd probably share similar beliefs as you as I prefer the wild type looks. However, I think it is inevitable that people will eventually begin mixing different localities if necessary in an attempt to produce the unique morphs. IMO, while there are many people who prefer pure animals, there are also numerous who wouldn't care less if the end result was a hyper melanistic black Eastern as seen in Australia. So while I think it would be frowned upon by some, others would embrace it.
We are soon nearing the point where there will be enough skinks to satisfy the purists who do take that hardline stance of only producing locale specific Easterns, that others will begin experimenting to satisfy those who more prioritize brightly colored and unique specimens. As I stated, personally I couldn't care less about the lava and lavender morphs I'm starting to see, but I do understand there is high demand for those as well. I'm not sure we are there yet, maybe we are, but I'm certain that day is nearing.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby mb606587 » Fri Jun 21, 2019 3:52 pm

Crreptiles wrote:I don’t mean to stir anything up I just think it’s a very interesting topic. From what I’ve read NSW and Brisbane locales overlap. Is it just the Eyeband and coloration that differed between the two? Is there a size difference? Body structure? Husbandry requirements?
You would figure science would classify them as a separate species. I know the aussies hybridized the northerns and Easterns all the time. I’m not saying I agree with that but would you say that we frown more upon that since we don’t have a genetic pool to get pure animals from?(That being any other country outside of Australia.)


As for the differences between the two, I'll wait for Splashy to answer that one for you as she has far more insight being that she works with them all but the NSW's are known for the pronounced eye bands. And yes I'd say 100% it's more frowned upon here because we have a finite amount of animals to work with. Luckily as more and more people are discovering Blue Tongue Skinks here in the states, the number of animals are exploding but we still have a limited gene pool. Because of this, some people used to line breed animals, which is another controversial topic altogether. Thankfully in recent years, we are starting to see US breeders working with established lines overseas in an attempt to introduce even more diversity. As for classifying them into separate subspecies, I do not personally believe that will happen even though it does seemingly make sense. About 20 years ago, tremendous scientific research was conducted on the Indonesian Skinks and many of the Gigas subspecies were classified. There is still so much work to be done with them (should Halmahera be classified separately from classic Indo?, what to do with some of the new island specific locales like Aru island that are popping up, is Irian Jaya gigas or scincoides? etc.). Scincoides scincoides is historically probably the most researched species (it is called the common Blue Tongue Skink after all) and if it hasn't been done yet, I have my doubts it ever will.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby Crreptiles » Fri Jun 21, 2019 5:13 pm

I definitely see both sides of the spectrum. One keeping locality lines pure to their origins but also people getting into the morphs, which in essence are creating new visual characteristics in animals. I appreciate your guys time and voice on the topic.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby splashy07 » Sun Jun 23, 2019 7:17 am

The first two pics are QLD locale from when Ray Gurgui was working with them. I only have one male, and if anyone out there has a female let's talk.
The second two are NSWs. Why on earth would anyone cross these two? You'd probably eventually breed they eye bands right out of them, and that is a desirable trait. The first thing asked of me when I have inquiries about available Easterns is "are they the ones with the eye bands"?
I realize locales cross in their native land but I do not think it should occur in this particular instance. IMO, they do not even look remotely similar. And as for husbandry, I keep them the same with no issues. These lines have been here in the states for a while, and I don't have any idea what part of QLD or NSW they originated from. They do fine in the exact conditions I keep my northerns.
Crossing these would be like crossing TR Aspera with TR Rugosa. I know this is done, as greed prevails over all, but I would not do that either. Anyone out there with female TR Aspera lets talk some more.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby mb606587 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 12:05 am

Splashy, I completely agree with you on many of your points. I think I kind of got off topic a bit and in this particular situation, I don't think it makes much sense to do either. I agree that it would diminish the monetary value of the animal significantly as you said and it would be more difficult to sell. There is definitely a more inherent value in a pure locality Eastern than a mixed locality. IMO, most (not all) people buying Easterns here are looking to breed them and place much more value on breeding like localities so would not entertain the notion of purchasing a skink that does not fit their particular line. And you're right, that eye banding is highly desired. With that said, do I personally think it is the equivalent to breeding TR Aspera (Eastern shingleback) with TR Rugosa (Western shingleback), or producing any hybrid or intergrade species for that matter? Scientifically speaking it's not. You're talking about breeding two separate subspecies together, which would produce an intergrade species. Again, scientifically speaking only, that scenario would be more similar to breeding Tiliqua scincoides intermedia (Northern) with Tiliqua scincoides scincoides (Eastern). I completely understand and agree with the need to preserve the unique visual characteristics of the different localities and I commend you and all of the others that are patient enough and work so hard to do it. As far as BTS go, I think the Easterns are the only ones that this is done with to my knowledge. Meraukes also vary significantly in appearance by locality, enough so that some break them down into "classic" and "new form," and we all know how differently Irian Jayas can look from each other, yet this practice is not applied to them. I also realize it may not be as urgent to do so since for the time being we have an "unlimited" supply of those skinks to work with. But to play advocate for a moment, if I was to purchase one of Ty Park's het hypermelanistic Easterns, which he just listed for sale a few days ago and who knows what locality has been bred into those, and breed it to say a NSW Eastern, do I think for a minute that people would be upset by that in the same way if I bred an axanthic Halmahera to a Merauke or even that same Eastern to a classic Northern? I don't think it would cause the same controversy, if any, because again you are not creating hybrid or even intergrade species like you would be by breeding Merauke x IJ, Eastern x Northern, or Aspera x Rugosa. This discussion actually makes me think of the breeders of the Solomon Island Prehensile Tailed Skinks. Each island produces skinks with very different visual characteristics. Colors can vary between yellow, bright green, speckled black and dark forest green, to even mostly black depending on the island the skink is found on. Up until recently they were all considered the same species, Corucia zebrata. In 1997, skinks found on the island of Bougainville, were subclassified as Corucia zebrata alfredschmidti, while all the other islands are still considered Corucia zebrata zebrata. Yet despite this, and seemingly only recently, some breeders are concentrating efforts to pair only island specific locale skinks, despite them being the same species and subspecies of animal. I hope you don't see this as me trying to argue with you as I do agree with your stance in this case. I just personally think this was an excellent question and worthy of a thought provoking discussion.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby splashy07 » Mon Jun 24, 2019 5:22 am

I can go on for days about the hybridization of species that I have come across in the blue tongue circles alone, never mind other animals. There are those who think a blue tongue skink is a blue tongue skink and nothing more. The uneducated impulse buyers at expos think they are going to get rich breeding whatever. If this continues there will be more mutts around than purebred species. No one gets rich doing this, regardless. I do not do this for money. I do not net a heck of a lot from sales. All goes back into the hobby. I give them away to friends. I have been in this hobby for a very long time and when I started there was no such thing as 'captive bred'. Everything was imported. Now we have a choice, thank God, but there are still those looking to make a quick buck.
The shingleback thing I brought up was because when I was looking to buy I ran across this scenario. I could have bought an aspera/rugosa hybrid for alarmingly the same price that a pure aspera would command. I only take advice from the best in the business and was strongly advised not to, even though I was not looking to breed such animal, would have been just a pet. Buying such things at a premium just encourages this behavior.
To keep it short and in layman's terms, if you would like a one hundred percent NSW eastern, get on my list. I have traced their lineage for generations. And please, anyone who knows of those keeping QLD form easterns from the Ray Gurgui line get in touch with me.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby ellbanger » Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:13 am

splashy07 wrote:I can go on for days about the hybridization of species that I have come across in the blue tongue circles alone, never mind other animals. There are those who think a blue tongue skink is a blue tongue skink and nothing more. The uneducated impulse buyers at expos think they are going to get rich breeding whatever. If this continues there will be more mutts around than purebred species.


This is a very interesting (and IMO, accurate) way of thinking - especially with regards to the Australian species/subspecies in the US, as I understand you're working with a much more limited gene pool over there compared to Australia.

I can see why some people might think hybridising sounds appealing...after all, just look at the "designer dog" markets, people charge outrageous $$$ for breed crosses (goldenmultiborderdoodles and all that sh*t) and perhaps some people think that might carry over to BTS?

Whilst thinking about this, though, I came up with a question. It's not uncommon for dog breeders to employ things like using a stud dog to inject new lines into their breeding program, leasing a *checkerboard on breeder's terms, etc. As I know nothing about the breeding of BTS, can I ask - is that something that is common between BTS breeders? Do you network with each other in this way? Say, if you bought a skink from breeder A, could you arrange a mating with a skink from breeder B and then breed one of the offspring with one of your own, say, 3rd generation "splashys" bred skinks? Or Do breeders tend to heavily, I guess, line-breed (if that's the right word) along their own lines?

The reason I ask is because I've seen a lot of pics floating around on various fb pages of some Easterns in the US and it seems there's a lot of variation in the colour/intensity of the eye banding; some of them are really pale/faded/broken - to the point I, as an Australian, wouldn't actually recognise them as the quintessential Eastern BTS. Is this an indication (keeping in mind I come from a more dog-focused background) that people aren't outcrossing with other lines in order to inject their own lines with those traits? Instead just line breeding within their own "kennel" and therefore just reinforcing those paler eye bands?

Sorry, I've gone waaaaaaay off topic here and I could be completely off the mark (being extremely new to the whole BTS thing). It just piqued my curiosity and so I thought I'd ask!
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby splashy07 » Tue Jun 25, 2019 4:26 am

Many breeders line breed. I do not, as I am a non-commercial hobbyist that does this purely for the love of the species and to make more captive bred animals available. The importation process is cruel and inhumane, and I'd like it to be eliminated in the blue tongue world. Unfortunately I will probably not live to see that day, as there will always be imports where there is money to be made. Captive bred Australian skinks are becoming more available over here because of our efforts, now we just need to convince the public that a few extra dollars will save you hundreds in the long run on vet bills.
And yes, breeders do exchange with one another, I will only do this locally as I'm not shipping my animals around the country to cause stress. Just like the bearded dragon trade, they are line bred for color. I have noticed that bearded dragons don't seem to live as long as they used to back in the 90's when all you could get was the grey ones. Could all the inbreeding have something to do with that? They are now a commonplace pet shop animal whereas they used to command high prices. I believe within the next decade the same will be true of the Northern blue tongue. Unfortunately, I've heard of many hybridizations of Northerns, IJs, Meraukes. The uneducated buyer will not have a clue. Do your homework, everyone, and buy from a reputable breeder, not just someone who says he/she is.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby mb606587 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:11 am

ellbanger wrote:
The reason I ask is because I've seen a lot of pics floating around on various fb pages of some Easterns in the US and it seems there's a lot of variation in the colour/intensity of the eye banding; some of them are really pale/faded/broken - to the point I, as an Australian, wouldn't actually recognise them as the quintessential Eastern BTS.


So I've always wondered this and this quote kind of reinforces some of my thoughts but how pure are our skinks here in the US to begin with? Australia stopped exporting Blue Tongue Skinks in the early 1970's, so in theory, the skinks we have today are the result of nearly half a century of breeding, with obviously some the result of illegal smuggling over the years. Now in the "dark" days of the hobby before the internet, mass information, and ease of networking, there were only a handful of known breeders, Ray Gurgui and Andrew Seike perhaps the most well known from the early 90's and on. Now while I trust that some of the big names of that era weren't breeding hybrids, do we know if a large majority of those people breeding from the 70's and 80's weren't just breeding their skinks to any they could find, regardless of the species, especially with the hobby being so underground at the time? Was there even a stigma back then towards hybridization the way there is today? Splashy maybe you have an idea as you say you've been active for 40 years but I've always wondered that. Is it feasible that a number of the skinks being produced today are the result of hybridization from decades ago? I do know that in the 1990's, when the Indonesian Skinks started to really surface in the pet trade, there were quite a number of people breeding those with the Australian skinks. And back then, there were very very few people who knew the difference. People today have trouble IDing skinks, so imagine how bad it was when there were no forums, no Facebook, no internet, and nobody to really ask, only books with bad information.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby splashy07 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 5:07 am

There's quite a bit of bad information on the internet, forums and facebook also. There are teenagers and 20 somethings giving advice that they look up on google and spread it around as knowledge and their own experience. And people that don't even know eachother bashing everyone else on facebook. I am completely old school and use no social media and no website. Any information from myself is the result of pure experience, and that of the best in the industry. The ones who have schooled me are also breeders/keepers of reptiles for over 40 years. I know for a fact my NSW's do not even have a fraction of a gene from anything else but NSW eastern, but as far as the QLD, you'd have to ask Ray himself. I have spoken to him at length a few years back and he said his pairs are now aged and no longer producing, which brings me to the conclusion that they are the real deal. He is no novice either. Whatever else is out there I may question, but I have my sources and only deal with certain people that have also been around forever. I'm sure there are many hybrids around, as I have heard of countless incidents of this going on. There are some QLD form easterns that look similar to IJs. And some that look even more like northerns. Those are more than likely the rarest on this side of the pond, and probably a good thing as people would be crossing those all over the place. I am only speaking for my own and my personal views on crossing locales. Not happening here. Ever. I did not have any problems finding NSW easterns when I was looking. You simply have to spend a little money. No one in their right mind is going to sell you a known female, so you just have to keep buying babies. And hopefully from different sources to mix up bloodlines. I'm sure they're all related in some sense in this country but I still refrain from breeding siblings or line breeding known relations.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby mb606587 » Wed Jun 26, 2019 10:34 am

Very true that there is bad information on the internet but also the internet, online forums, and now facebook, as the age of forums is slowly dying, has been a godsend. It is truly amazing that we are all so connected that we can share information so quickly and freely amongst very experienced keepers and novices alike. I kept Beardies, Uromastyx, and BTS back in the 90's, I still have my old care books I bought, and the only reason I succeeded back then was because of my dad, who had been keeping reptiles since he was a child. He was the one who turned me onto feeding canned dog food to my skink back when I was told to feed pinky mice.

Now I don't want to confuse anybody into thinking that I am advocating for breeding hybrids or intergrades just because it was done in the past. That is the furthest thing from the truth. And just for those that are confused by the terms, hybrids are created by breeding different species to each other such as any of the Indonesian skinks to any species of Australian skink, for instance Irian Jaya to Northern. Intergrades are created by breeding different subspecies together, such as any form of Eastern to Northern. I would call Ray Gurgui the "godfather of BTS" here in the US. He's arguably been doing it longer than anybody else I know of over here. But even he didn't have his hands on the original stock and that's kind of what I'm getting at. What was going on with both Northerns and Easterns before he came onto the scene? It's very possible that Ray got his hands on a wild group at some point in time and his lines are truly pure but that is purely speculation on my part. Questions I'd love to ask him if he was more active on here, especially about how he came onto his original stock for his line, which seemingly has influenced everybody.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby C.Cannon » Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:09 am

I know this is a kind of old topic but I feel like it needs to be brought up that a large percentage of "NSW locality" easterns in the USA came from Marcus Webb. These animals are actually the product of breeding a wild Sydney locality female to a Queensland locality male from a Russian bloodline. Which means most "pure NSW" easterns in the USA are 50% NSW and 50% Queensland to begin with.

There are a few pure NSW and Victorian locality animals from other bloodlines brought in from New Zealand and Canada but they are very far and few between. If you have Marcus Webb line eyebands they aren't actually pure NSW.
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby mb606587 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 10:32 am

Very interesting. Did you get this information directly from Marcus Webb himself?
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Re: Eastern Blue Tongue question

Postby splashy07 » Fri Nov 15, 2019 10:40 am

Was wondering that myself. And I'm sure those locales cross in the wild, also. Regardless, that is as pure as it's going to get on this side of the pond. And being we (by 'we' I mean reputable breeders) do not cross locales over here, they are regarded as pure NSW. I'd love to hear Ron Couto's take on this, but I'm sure he's abandoned the forums for obvious reasons.

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