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Don Soderberg
February 27, 2007

PHFaust: On behalf of Jeff Barringer and all of us at, I'm very pleased to welcome Don Soderberg to our Ninth Annual Chat Week.

PHFaust: Don Soderberg of South Mountain Reptiles studied biology and herpetology at Austin State University, and is the producer of over 100 different corn and other colubrid snake morphs. This year, SMR should produce over 4,000 hatchlings and possibly introduce several new corn snake morphs into the industry. Don will be answering questions about all aspects of keeping and breeding corn snakes.

PHFaust: Thank you so much for joining us, Don, and welcome!

Don Soderberg: Thanks, Cindy.

snake_gal: How big do corns have to be to start breeding? How many years? What is the most spectacular corn morph you've ever seen?

Don Soderberg: Female corns should be about three feet long. Males slightly shorter. That usually means between two and three years of age. I'm a freak for bloodreds. Just about any color.

Don Soderberg: GA

snake_gal: I love bloodreds too! Thanks a lot.

TESSI_GAL: We have many snakes. Corns are just great all around. Kind of a weird Q... How did you get that funky rat?

Don Soderberg: A friend of mine in Ft. Worth breeds those. They're really bazaar, aren't they? GA

TESSI_GAL: Any idea on the genes?

Don Soderberg: He said they spawned from his bald rats.

RiseAbove: What's the status on the northern pines? Have your racks come in yet to start breeding? How big are you breeders?

Don Soderberg: N. Pines are just now coming outta brumation. In about three months, I should have some ready to go. Several morphs here. Racks are NOT in yet. Arghhhhh.

Don Soderberg: Breeder pines are over 6.5 feet.

HerpLover95: Hi Don! What would you consider the newest or rarest corn snake morph? Are you working with them? And how much are they going for?

Don Soderberg: Here, it would be the pied-sided bloods. I get $2,000.00 each for them. Of course, there are many other great new morphs out there that not even I have enough of yet.

HerpLover95: Thanks! And are you working on another book by any chance?

Don Soderberg: Yes, the BIG book is in the works now.

DemonFrog: Don, I've been having trouble finding a sort of timeline for what happens when you breed corns without a brumation, I have a female corn snakes about 3 years old who was bred Feb 3rd and had her last shed on the 22nd, she looks fatter as if she has eggs but I was wondering If you think this last shed was possibly the pre lay shed or if it was more likely to have been the pre ovulation shed. Thank you and I love your book

Don Soderberg: DF, that's tough to say, now knowing when you put the breeders together.

DemonFrog: Also if I should be continuing to feed her.

Don Soderberg: Feed her 'til she sheds. Not after.

Don Soderberg: I put a great timeline in my last book that should help you with that.

ssshane: Hi, I breed kingsnakes mostly, amel Lgg, local specific Lgg, GBKs, and Scarlet kings). I have a single corn, a Snow male, received in a trade. If you could only choose 2 females for your project, what corns would they be? Leaving you with the most possibilties

Don Soderberg: First pick is the ultramel X snow. After that, just whatever you'd like to see that complements the two genes that make up snow (amel and anery). How bout bloodreds?

ssshane: thanks

Caroline_nr: Hey Don, Will you have new pied sided combination this year? Or will you have any pied sided blood or hets for sale this summer?

Don Soderberg: If you're asking if I'll have new corns this year, "yes". I don't even tell me what they'll be 'til I see their little noses poking outta the eggs.

jeffb: What is it like to be a YouTube superstar?

Don Soderberg: Haha, Jeff. Thanks for making that happen.

maxamillion: how do you help stop a corn from musking all over you?

Don Soderberg: Could be temperature.

maxamillion: high or low

Don Soderberg: Sometimes, they're just prone to do that, but also you should examine any cologne or aftershave you use. Sometimes, that causes them to "slime" ya.

gwb8568_nr: Hey Don, G from New Braunfels..........just wondering if you are still working with the "buckskin" ground colored Oaks this year. I really liked the pics you had last year but did not have a chance to get any. Also, are you doing this in regular Okeetees and Abbotts?

Don Soderberg: I hatch a few of the buckskins each year. I should have quite a few of them this year. I'll have tons of the regular OKeetees and the Abbott's line Okeetees.

gwb8568_nr: both styles?

gapnda7: Don, where can we see a pic of the pied sided bloods? I looked on your site and they aren't there? Also how many corns do you produce per year approx.?

Don Soderberg: I have lots of pix of the P/S bloods that I've been saving for my books. I should get some on my site, huh?

Don Soderberg: I'll do that soon. Thanks for reminding me.

Don Soderberg: We'll have close to 4,000 corns this year.

TESSI_GAL: Could the presence of a milk or king cause a corn to musk? My kids sometimes hold them in the same room.

Don Soderberg: Yes. Cats, dogs, rodents, birds. Those are all stimuli for defensive or grouchy behavior in corns. Of course, predator snakes like kings and milks too. Improper temperatures are the main cause of that behavior. GA

TESSI_GAL: Pretty mild grouchy behavior and that's what I love about corns, thank you.

DemonFrog: Don, what cool or new on unseen so far morphs can we expect to see this year?

Don Soderberg: Just about any new color or pattern morph complex with bloodreds will be popular for many years/generations. Ultramel combinations too.

PHFaust: Bob you do have one of our shirts right? ;) There is your answer.. And Fender you are next.

Fenderplayer108: Don, Do you have any pictures of your facility? Also, how big is your pituophis collection? Also, how often do you sell adult corns?

Don Soderberg: We'll be publishing pix of our facility in the next book that will be out in a few months. It's a hard back that will be very large.

Don Soderberg: Pits?

Fenderplayer108: Bull snakes, gophers, pines

Don Soderberg: I have several bull morphs, several pines, some gophers, etc.

Don Soderberg: We rarely sell adult snakes of any kind. They just don't sell for what they're worth.

Fenderplayer108: Thanks Don, can't wait for the new book.

PHLdyPayne: What is the best and quickest way to determine what hidden 'het's a snake may possess (other than asking the breeder)? I have two normal corn snakes that I know have bred in the past and produced a clutch which had an 'unusual group of offspring.' Unfortunately I don't have any better clues than this. I plan to breed this two normals soon, just want to know how best to determine what hets these two can be

Don Soderberg: Breeding trials is the ONLY way to find out what they're hiding from you. There is no other way, unfortunately. GA

PHLdyPayne: guess I will just have fun figuring it out

gapnda7: Don, do you work with any old world ratsnakes? Also do you work with any of the mexican pituophis? And last do you know of any het markers in cornsnakes? Like in ball pythons.

Don Soderberg: Yes, the fun is in the breeding of these gems. I may have some deppei and jani this year. No old world rats. There are very few tell-tale markers in corns. The most reliable ones are when you see hybrid markers. Otherwise, nothing like the boas, etc.

HerpLover95: Hi again Don! This is another morph Q. I have seen a couple pics of corns with all white saddles half way down their backs, do you have a breeding pair of these and trying to make the white go all the way down?

Don Soderberg: I am not familiar with the white saddles unless you refer to the calicos. If so, that is not a trait you want to promote since it lethally linked to non desirable traits.

HerpLover95: Oh ok! Thanks! Cant wait till your new book comes out!

RiseAbove: Could the bull snake in the photo gallery on your website marked as "Not sure" be something like an axanthic hypo stillwater?

Don Soderberg: Allegedly, that bull came from Kansas. That's all I know about it. It died in a fire at the facility I had loaned it out to. We'll never know.

HerpLover95: I'm pretty sure it was a reverse okeetee though

DemonFrog: Don, what do you prefer to feed your adult corns, young rats or adult mice, also what would a homo for anery A and B as well as amel look like? A regular snow or a blizzard?

Don Soderberg: I rarely (if ever) feed rats to adult corns. Once they're adult, I feel that mice are better for them. Feeding rats while they're growing facilitates faster growth, but not in adults.

Don Soderberg: Usually my anery charcoals only show anery.

Don Soderberg: In my lines, my snow blizzards are blizzards. Apparently, the charcoal masks in the complex.

johninbs: Any tips how to tell the approx. age of an adult corn?

Don Soderberg: No tips on that whatsoever. There is virtually no way to tell the age of a corn unless it is showing OLD AGE markers. Then, you may presume it's at least 10 years old.

maxamillion: I have a friend who is big into hybrids wants me to cross my albino striped gopher with a corn, good idea or bad?

Don Soderberg: I'm not a big fan of hybrids. I guess the more bazaar they are, the less likely they'll be id'd as pure. I don't think you should cross any other species/genus with corns.

maxamillion: Cool thanks I like them pure to

PHAlex: Hi Don, what size container do you set up your baby corns in, and do you offer them anything besides pinky mice? I can't imagine tease feeding 4000 babies! lol

Don Soderberg: I set up the babies originally in 16 ounce cups. Then, show box sized containers. At SMR, if they don't eat pinky mice, they get a trip to the arctic, if ya know what I mean.

gapnda7: Are you the largest producer of corns in the US? If not who is? How difficult is it to sell 3000-4000 babies?

Don Soderberg: Oh no. I'm not the biggest. Rich at Serpenco shames me with twice as many as I produce. There is a wholesale producer that produces over 35,000 corns annually. Arrrggghhh.

PHLdyPayne: Earlier you mentioned non cooling breeding timeline will be in your next book. Can you provide a brief rundown for those of us who don't have your book at this time?

Don Soderberg: It's hectic to feed 3K to 4K. I can't imagine twice or ten times as many. I'd go nuts. GA

Don Soderberg: It wouldn't be possible for this chat, but if you write to me, I'll give you details.

RiseAbove: What shows do you usually attend, or does it vary every year? I have heard that some breeders only go to shows hosted by specific organizations and what not, like Cherryville usually only attends ETHS or ETRHS shows. New Orleans had a show in January (having another in June or July), and we needed a good corn snake vendor.

Don Soderberg: I only do one or two shows a year. That may increase, but I hope not. Getting too old for those torture trips. lol.

Don Soderberg: I've done ETHS for over 16 years. I'll be doing that one again this coming season.

SmallScaleRescue: We have experienced many egg bound corns. Being a breeder have you seen this often? And out of curiosity, any suggestions as to why? Usually they are coming in bound already. We have used oxytocin with little result.

Don Soderberg: Oxytocin and Poticin usually don't help. If you want to use meds, try only calcium. Exercise is the best way to fix this problem. I estimate that several daily sessions of hand-over-hand exercise for five to ten minutes will get those pesky stuck eggs moving.

SmallScaleRescue: Usually when we see this there is now way of knowing how long the eggs are there. The owners surrendering rarely know it, but we are finding that we are at the point that the need to be removed. Just trying to pinpoint the cause. Will try the exercise! Thanks

GotHairballs_nr: Any reason for a male corn to be aggressive to any other snake, even in a 55 gallon tank as a home? Everyone else here is social - he's a special needs child :) He'd also rather eat hamsters, so he may just be an oddity.

Don Soderberg: Lack of exercise is the number one reason for dystocia. Are you certain the snake has private access to proper temperatures? I refer to 80-84 deg. F. It may just be asocial. Shrug?

HerpLover95: You mentioned old age markers, what are they? Do you you have any pics of them on your site?

Don Soderberg: The book I'm working on now will show some of the markers of old age. Cataracts are one of those markers. Especially in albinos. Others include what we see in humans and other animals. Lack of muscle tone and lethargy.

HerpLover95: Ok thank you! Now I will really have to buy it! Loved your old one by the way.

Slacker6848: Do you enjoy field herping? What are some of your favorite snakes you like to find? Where do you like best to go herping? Also what is your fav corn morph and what is the most popular you've noticed?

Don Soderberg: I LOVE field herping. I'm passionate about it, but rarely have time for it. I've been field and road hunting here in W. Texas since the 70s. I still do that each year and love it. My fave corn in general is . . . yup. . . you know. BLOODS! Right now, the ultras and ultramel combinations are very popular.

PHWyvern: What is the record age for a corn snake? We have a corn snake at work who is turning 19 this year. Is that common? The only thing that has changed about her is that in the last 5 years her orange colors went from bright orange to a dark muddy orange. Is it typical for an old snake to go through a color change like that?

Don Soderberg: I think the record age for a corn is just over 21 years. I'll look that up and reference that in my next book. Average lifespan lately in captivity for corns is about 15 years.

Don Soderberg: Yes, color fading is an age marker.

Drizzt80: Don, in your opinion, what may be the best direction, genetically, to find the leucistic corn?

Don Soderberg: I don't think there is a direction in which to send you in search of the leucistic. Being a simple recessive trait, there's no way to make it and no morph that would have a propensity to make it. Just luck is what you need.

DemonFrog: Don, is the lack of yellow pigment in a snow corn evidence that it may be a blizzard well as a lack of pattern?

Don Soderberg: I don't think that is an indication of the presence of charcoal (blizzard). here is still much we need to learn about yellow in snows and blizzards. It's thought to be a dietary product stored in cells and is therefore latent in manifestation.

RiseAbove: Do you have any kids? And if so, do they each have their own corn snake(s)?

Don Soderberg: My kids have grown up and gone. They all did great with snakes and the youngest is in school in WA now. He's working with green sea turtles in Costa Rica. Otherwise, the kids loved snakes, but none of them keep/collect them now.

RiseAbove: awesome

Don Soderberg: Oh. Yes, they all had corns they named and loved. GA

Bobo_nr: Don, what experience have you had with slow-growing corns? How long do they live? I've got a 2 year old snow that is 48g

Don Soderberg: Some are like that. Some are that way from genetics while others just have "birth defects" that retard their growth rate and eventual size. We have a lot to learn about that subject. Just hang in there. I've had many slow growing corns that became normally sized and great breeders. Good luck.

PHFaust: On behalf of, Jeff B, and myself, I want to take a moment to thank Don for being part of our chat week. Don, thanks for taking the time out to chat with us on Corn Snakes

PHFaust: Thank you so much Don! We loved having you!

Don Soderberg: Thanks, Cindy and Jeff. Thank you all for your questions.

Don Soderberg: Anyone that has specific Qs I didn't answer, write to me personally. Thanx.

Don Soderberg: Thanx again, Cindy.

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