Frequently Asked Questions
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What is the address to send the sheds to?
Please place your orders first and then send your sheds to ProHerper labs, Wijngaardstraat 27, 3290 Diest, Belgium.
How long can I store my shed?
Sheds that were collected and dried immediately after shedding can be stored for minimally 3 months and in most cases even longer. Keep them in a dry dark place at room temperature. If you want to store them longer you can store them in the freezer.
Can I test with a wet shed?
No, a shed that was wet for too long or not dry enough will not work. The DNA in the shed degrades fast, so we will not be able to tell which genes your snake is carrying.
How reliable are the tests?
The tests are designed to prove your animal out. This means that when your animal is positive in a test, you can trust that the results are >99% confident. However, a negative test does not always mean your animal isn't a het, but this depends on the test. For some genes, the test has a very high negative predictive value (e.g. Clown & Pied), while for other this isn't the case and there could be other lines we cannot test (e.g. Albino). We continually try to improve the negative predictive value too and improve the tests to include rare lines.
How does the test work?
Genetic material (DNA) is extracted from dry ball python sheds. The genetic material is then multiplied by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and read by sequencing. This way, we can identify the mutations that are responsible for a certain morph. For example, we know that in Pied animals a "C" has been replaced by a "T". This means, non het Pied animals carry two copies containing a "C", heterozygous animals carry a copy containing a "C" and a copy containing a "T" and visual Pieds contain two copies containing a 'T".
Can you test my dinker?
Yes, we can check your dinker animals, but it's a lot easier if you know in which complex it sits. In other words, we can check if it isn't any of the known BEL complex animals if you have a dinker that sits in that complex. We can then check if there is an associated mutation in the complex. If you don't know this information we need at least 10 sheds (and preferably more) from visuals (if recessive) or supers (if co-dom). Please contact us to discuss prices.
Why are prices in the UK more expensive?
Samples will have to be shipped from the UK to Europe. Since ball pythons are CITES listed animals, we have to apply for CITES permits. The price of the permit is roughly 10GBP/shed. Sheds will be collected by our partner, Jam genetic shipping.
Why did my test fail?
Tests fail when we cannot extract enough quality DNA from the shed. If the shed was wet for too long the DNA will degrade fast. Even if you then dry it, the DNA was already degraded and you still won't be able to get a result. Sometimes acids from the coco bedding are "sucked up" by the shed which will also result in failure. Failed means we didn't get a result so we cannot conclude anything about the genetics. We test every shed twice in case of failure, after that we require a fresh shed.
Where do you perform the tests?
The tests are performed by Jurgen, owner of ProHerper who also has a PhD in molecular cell biology. In other words, genetic tests is his "real" job! The tests itself are performed in the labs of the University of Leuven.
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