Everyone who breeds reptiles and dragons knows that Zero and Witblits dragons sell and they sell fast! If you talk to any breeder, they will tell you time and time again they are asked “Do you sell zeros??” or “When will you have any zeros available??”
Plain and simple, these dragons are absolutely STUNNING! But, as beautiful as these dragons are, there is a dark truth behind them.
THE DARK TRUTH:
What is almost never mentioned about these dragons is that their beauty is given to them through a genetic mutation. There are actually four KNOWN genetic mutations that result in patternless dragons: Zero, Witblits, Wero, and Silverback. I won’t touch too much on Silverback due to that it’s nearly nonexistent in the dragon world today and especially so in the United States. The cliff notes version of these dragons is that they originated from a breeder in Japan. The mutation never gained as much attention as zeros and wits and quickly faded out. These dragons are off white or earth-tone and near patternless when they were born, with patterns fading more as they grew into adulthood. It is extremely rare, so be cautious of those claiming this genetic trait.
This leads me into the 3 mutations I want to focus on! My intention is to hopefully bring in some awareness to the community and to all zero/wits lovers out there and list out some possible issues commonly found within this morph. I will also cover what to look for when buying these morphs and buyer VS breeder responsibilities.
Witblits are completely patternless dragons that were discovered by a breeder in South Africa right before the zero mutation. They are easily recognizable by their relatively brown/sandy coloration. At one point these dragons all were somewhat dull, but due the process of selective breeding, breeders have brightened up the coloration. Today, you can find many high-end breeders who produce extremely high colored witblits that are orange and even shades of red. Witblits is a recessive gene meaning that the dragon must carry both recessive alleles in order to visually be present this morph! (similar to having blue eyes!) When a dragon is “het wits” this means they carry the gene and can produce the gene but it is not visually present because they only carry one allele. A dragon that is het wits will appear with normal coloration and patterns.
A Punnett Square to help understand the genetic breakdown of this mutation.
Zero mutation is also a genetic mutation that results in patternless dragons and admittedly my favorite! This mutation has grown in popularity over the past several years and reputable breeders are still actively working to strengthen the genetic codes of these dragons. They are patternless like the wits and can range from extremely bright white to a very dark gray! The zero mutation is also a recessive trait and a dragon is not zero unless they carry BOTH recessive alleles from the parents. If the dragon is het zero, this means they carry the zero gene and can produce zeros if paired with another dragon also carrying the same gene. A dragon who is het zero carries the gene to the zero mutation and can also produce zeros. The het zero dragons will appear with normal colors and patterns and you cannot visually tell they are carrying this gene.
And a Punnett Square for my visual learners!!
These are the newest of the four and are still being studied and strengthened by reputable breeders. They are gaining popularity fast! The wero gene is a combination of zero and witblits mutations. Being that the witblits gene and zero gene are both recessive traits, the wero gene presents itself when the dragon carries 1 zero allele and 1 witblits allele. Since the dragon will not be wits or zero because it needs 2 of these alleles to present itself, it displays both zero and witblits traits: hence the term Wero. A dragon who is het wero carries both alleles and can produce all zeros, witblits, and weros depending on what the dragon is paired with. If the dragon is paired with another het wits it’s possible to have normal dragons, witblits, and weros. If the dragon is paired with a het zero they can produce normal dragons, zeros, and weros. AND if paired with another het wero, the dragons can produce all normal, witblits, zeros, and weros. Pretty cool huh??
This is one is a little harder to understand because there are MANY MANY Punnett Squares I can list out here! But here is just a simpler pairing of 1 het wits and 1 het zero!
Now we get into some educational info that I feel is EXTREMELY important to know before jumping into buying one of these dragons! These dragons are the RESULT OF A MUTATION. This means, even with great breeding practices and reputable breeders the dragons can still have underlying issues that we may or may not see.
Some common issues seen within these morphs:
- Sometimes they can appear fine and later develop sickness as they grow older
- Short life spans
- Underlying genetic issues that may or may not present themselves right away
- Not growing full size
- Unstable genetic coding that results in an overall weaker dragon
Now that you know there can sometimes be issues, you may be asking yourself how can you mitigate these issues and ensure you are purchasing one that has the best chances? Here are some things to look for when buying these morphs:
- Make sure you ask about the pairing for the animal, many reputable breeders will already list the pairing for informational awareness. Here are some listings of good AND bad/unethical pairings
|Unethical Pairings:||Ethical Pairings:|
|Zero x Zero||het Zero x het Zero|
|Zero x het Zero||het Wits x het Wits|
|Wits x Wits||het Zero x het Wits|
|Wits x het Wits||Zero x Wits|
|Wero x Wero||het Wero x het Wero|
|Wero x Zero|
|Wero x Wits|
- Make sure you THOROUGHLY read through the breeders policies. The policies are there to protect BOTH you and the breeder!
- Reviews! Reviews! Reviews! Try reaching out to the breeder whether they are newer or have been around a little longer. Many breeders will respond and be open to questions! Like stated before and read through the breeders policies, if they state they do not provide pictures of the parents… don’t message them asking for pictures of the parents. If you are not comfortable with purchasing a dragon without seeing the parents, don’t purchase!
- Newer breeders doesn’t always equate to bad breeders: Educate yourself so that you can know what to look for and know what questions to ask. You are less likely to be tricked into something by a bad breeder if you know what you are talking about!
- When breeders breed ethically, they will often have only a few zeros, due to only pairing het x het. In a perfect world, when breeding het to het only 25% of the clutch will be zero/wits and the rest will be 66% het zero/wits. So, look at what the breeder is selling: If you see a GIANT clutch and ONLY of zeros/wits and no hets: well you can do the math on those pairings.
Dragon breeding often brings up controversial topics “is producing reptiles with genetic mutations ethical?". Well, that is up for you to decide! There are ways to mitigate these issues, but please keep in mind what you could possibly be dealing with and if you are up to the task! Reputable breeders that focus on these morphs are actively working to strengthen these genetics, but nature is not always kind and ISSUES DO HAPPEN. These situations are difficult and often costly, so PLEASE make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before going out and purchasing a popular morph.
** I’m not saying bad breeders don’t exist. They do! Just remember that being educated is the most powerful weapon to use to produce change!
All in all, if you are not comfortable with something, then don’t spend the money on it! If you just aren’t sure and don’t want to risk it, don’t spend the money! If you are unsure you can afford an extra vet bill or the extra time you need to have a pet, save yourself the trouble and the money. Reptiles are NOT less work. A big stigma in this community is that reptiles are easier and cheaper than having a dog. That couldn't be the furthest thing from wrong! Reptiles are costly and time consuming if you are doing it right!
As always, we are here to offer help and the best information out there! If you ever have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out!
-Tifani and Whitney @Blackthorn Dragons!