The best Christmas present! Neville Reibelt has been refining some beautiful lines of pythons for two decades, but got an unexpected surprise a couple of years back. The season before last, I was pipping a clutch from one of my albino Darwins, when I came across an animal that looked like it had shit on itself inside the egg. Just then, a mate rang and I told him about it. “Don’t do any more until I get there!” he said – obviously he had guessed what it might be. When he arrived we started going through the other eggs. With mounting excitement we found a second and then a third Paradox; three in the one clutch. Christmas is my favourite time of year as you never know what you are going to get when all the eggs start hatching. Occasionally something different crops up, and that’s what really keeps me going. The female that produced the clutch is a long-time breeder that hatched in November 2007. She doesn’t lay every year, and didn’t have any eggs the year before the Paradox animals were produced, or the year after (which was last year), but has had a lot of progeny and never before thrown anything like them. She was originally from Simon Stone’s line, which is interesting, as Simon did produce at least one Paradox albino Darwin. When I saw it in about 2007, it was already an adult, and had a few black patches. The other interesting thing is that every other clutch my female has produced has comprised a total of 19-21 eggs, whereas the one that included the Paradox animals was 30. I keep careful records of my animals and there was no difference in her weight. The year the Paradox animals came along was the first time I had paired my female with a het albino Zebra male from Dave Evans. I believe the line came from down south somewhere – there is talk of someone down there consistently pro- ducing Paradox animals from a couple of het albinos. Unfortunately, I subsequently lost the Right (slide show): the markings have evolved considerably over time (more than one snake shown). Images by Neville Reibelt. male with myeloid leukaemia. When I took it to the vet, he said it was the third snake he had seen with the condition within a week. My three Paradox snakes were all males. All had nice markings, and they seemed to develop more black as they aged. I sold the two that had smaller blotches and kept one which is very heavily marked. I’ve had a couple of serious offers for it, but I figured ‘I didn't think much of the Paradoxes at first, but they have grown on me ....’ there are so f ew around I would keep one. To be honest, I didn’t think much of the Paradoxes at first, but they have grown on me, particularly with the evolution of the markings. I intend to put mine (which is now 18 months old) back over his mum next season. He will be the only male I use with her, and I will also put him with a couple of other female Darwins. If the mother lays, I will hold back a couple of pairs of the progeny – even if there are no visual markers – just to see if they are some sort of ‘hets’, with a genetic predisposition to producing Paradox animals.