by Freight Freitas
The first two Gonyosoma individuals I acquired some three years ago were a captive hatched green female oxycephala (Oxine), and a captive bred black male janseni Zoomy). Oxine was severely neglected and in horrible condition when I got her. She required three months of antibiotic treatment (Baytril +Amikacin) to heal, as she was stressed close to death with a severe mite infection. Her eyes were sunken in and crusted, she was emaciated, and many of her scales were either missing or falling off. Zoomy was one of the very first janseni ever to be captive bred here in the U.S., and I got him by chance during a purchase for another species. Once I had Oxine stable, and both of them acclimated, I wanted to provide each of them with large enclosures to improve their quality of life.
After working with both snakes for some months time I began to notice that they were quite similar in morphology. Both had the same slender bodies, smooth shiny scales, and a distinctly similar head structure, which is what got me wondering if the black janseni is actually just another color morph of the oxycephala? It wasn’t till recently that I learned that there is a difference in the upper labial scales between both species, but its not a very dramatic difference at all. So, for the sake of saving space, and build time, I opted for one enclosure large enough to house both snakes. That enclosure turned out to be a 36”x18”x72” metal office cabinet that to date had proven to be the best setup I have ever used for Gonyos.
The snakes took to the enclosure, as well as each other immediately, and it wasn’t long before I witnessed the first mating. The result of this and all subsequent mating has been the extraordinary green and black speckled oxy-jansen hybrids! The hybrids start off looking exactly like green oxycephala, and around the age of six months begin a color transformation. Over the next few months black pigment radiates from the skin into the proximal region of the scales. By the time the snakes are one year old the body scales are half black on the inside, and half green on the outside. There is some variation throughout the body as to exactly how much of the scale is black, but to date I have not seen any of the scales turn entirely black.
The most variable region of the body relating to coloration is the tail. Some of the hybrids have a typical oxycephala tail with a yellow band around the vent separating the green body coloration from the reddish tail coloration. Some hybrids do not have the yellow band, but instead simply transition from the green body to the reddish tail in the vent region. There are also hybrids that do not have the reddish tail coloration at all. These snakes instead have what is basically a continuation of the body coloration with some mottled black and silver blotches giving the tail a somewhat calico look.
The hybrids have proven to be excellent eaters and very easy to keep in captivity. Overall they have been extremely healthy and vital, well mannered, and relatively easy to handle. They have all been kept in a room with temperatures between 75-83F without additional heating, and to date have never experienced even the slightest health concern with any of them. They are truly extraordinary and stunning creatures, and I am honored to have what are most likely the first Gonyosoma hybrids in the world!