This information is probably long overdue, but things have been a bit crazy here over the last few months, and more to come on that later. Due to some recent conversations I've had, I felt it necessary to make a post here to clarify some things about the Atomic G line of Trempers. As a result of this, we'll dive into what constitutes 'pure' and a little about the integrity that comes into play when working with specific lines, projects, etc. With that, let's dive into the history of the Atomic G Trempers...
For 100% clarity and transparency, I have not now, nor ever have, claimed to have started the Atomic line, nor the G-Project line of Leopard geckos. The Atomic line of Tangerines was created by Scott Coltharp (Texas Lizard Connection), many years ago now. This line was comprised of various Tangerine lines including, A&M, Masterpiece, TUG and Albey. Around approximately 2011, Matt Baronak helped to socialize the line, giving them a broader audience. G-Project is a well-known line of Tangerines pioneered by Matt B., that was ultimately crossed into other genetics, projects, etc. For the purpose of this discussion, we do not need to dive much deeper into the history of Atomic or G-Project, with the exception of Jungle Giants, which we'll discuss in a bit.
Fast forward to 2015, I purchased an Atomic Tremper male and a Solar Raptor (G-Project Raptor) from John Scarbrough of Geckoboa Reptiles. Starting in 2016, I started the process of crossing these two animals together with the intent of producing high-contrast Trempers. At that point, there was no further/larger vision of the project. I still have both of these animals today and though they have a lost a bit of luster over the years from breeding, you can see where both animals have influenced what is the Atomic G Tremper line today.
Every year since the initial cross in 2016, I have very selectively line bred these animals and their offspring to produce better results, year after year. These animals have produced varying levels of contrast, some more than others, but have also proven to produce high contrast animals even from parents that display very low amounts of contrast. It is a somewhat visually unpredictable project, with regard to amounts of contrast, which is why there are very few that have been released to the public, at this point. My vision and intent was to really get this line to a state I was comfortable with before releasing a lot of them for sale. That said, none were released until the 2017 season, and even then, the numbers were very small. To date, only 18 pure Atomic G Trempers have been released to the hobby.
To circle back to the lineage piece of this, while I did not create Atomics nor G-Projects, the Atomic G Trempers are a very focused project from two very established lines, and something that no one else has done over the last few years that I'm aware of. I'm not saving lives here and this is not a new gene. This is simply something that I invested in, took a shot with and netted out with neat animals that have progressed greatly in quality over the last six years. Even just a couple of months ago, in a discussion with Matt Baronak, he shared some very old pictures of the A&M Jungle Giants that certainly do express some of the same traits of the Atomic G Trempers. That would certainly stand to reason as the animals I work with today almost certainly trace back to Jungle Giant lines. "It's almost like you've re-engineered the original Jungle Giant line" was a direct quote from Matt in that discussion.
In 2018, I started hatching out some animals with a pretty staggering amount of contrast, that was not fading even well into adulthood. At this point, the Atomic G Tremper line really started to turn into something else and I honed in on one particular look that was most appealing to me. This look has been my focus since 2018 and most likely will continue to be, moving forward.
Below I've included a slideshow of various examples of the Atomic G Tremper line, in chronological order (to the best of my recollection).
With the Atomic G Tremper history piece out of the way, let's talk a bit about 'purity', as it relates to line integrity (not to be confused with pure, in the sense of het free). With any project like this, we're all free to take liberties with what we're 'injecting' into our projects, as long as it follows the basic rules and as long as we are transparent with those points, and don't misrepresent them, in any way. No exceptions.
As this relates to Atomic G Trempers, there has literally been nothing aside from Atomic and G-Project added to this line since I started it. "But Chris, why does that matter?". I'm glad you asked. As we've seen with Tangerine lines, as an example, the waters can certainly get muddied over time, leading to confusion between lines and a mish mash of this and that. While I realize that we run into an issue where certain lines cease to be viable over time, due to massive amounts of inbreeding, the importance of representing your lines as they truly are still remains paramount. If a customer is searching for 'pure' Atomic G Trempers, that does not mean offspring resulting from a pair that is one pure Atomic G Tremper animal and one random Raptor that came from God knows where. In this instance, the resulting offspring would now be considered 50% Atomic G Tremper (not to be confused with percentages used when referring to heterozygous traits).
I've had a few of my customers ping me with pictures of their resulting offspring from Atomic G's they've purchased from me. They essentially took a pure Atomic G Tremper, paired it in many cases to a 'random' Raptor, produced more Raptors and then asked if these would be considered Atomic G Trempers. The answer to that is 'no', they would then be Atomic G Tremper crosses. This is no different from taking a Carbon, crossing it to a Black Night and calling it a Carbon. Incorrect, as it is no longer a Carbon, but a Carbon x Black Night cross.
In summation, regardless of what lines/projects you're working with, it is imperative that you understand where the animals came from, what is truly considered pure and how your resulting offspring should be labeled/sold.
This is where the integrity piece comes into play. If you think long and hard about this, why has it taken so long for me to release Atomic G Trempers in significant numbers? Well, one major component of that answer is the fact that there has been nothing added to the line aside from Atomic and G-Project, as we discussed earlier. As such, you're limited to working with the best examples of the animals you produce. When you're laser focused on the end result and have a clear vision for what you're targeting, that limits things even more. Now, are there other high contrast Tremper lines out there that I could cross into the Atomic G's and maybe get even 'better' or 'faster' results? Sure, but I'm not aiming for crosses, at least not in the context of this discussion. I am crossing Atomic G Trempers into other things, but again, those are crosses, not pure Atomic G Trempers.
Along the way, I could've added in Blood Tremper:
Steven Lopez's high contrast line:
Or hell, why not just throw in some Red Diamond?
because...Integrity. Anyone could almost certainly throw in whatever they want to whatever lines/projects they want, and quite frankly, very few people (more accurately no one) would know the difference. That being said, many years ago in an interview I was conducting, I asked a young man to define integrity for me. After a short pause, he answered, "Doing the right thing, even when no one is looking". That answer has stuck with me to this day, as subjectively, it encapsulates integrity perfectly.
This is how we need to approach our gecko operations. We all have relative carte blanche to do whatever we want with our projects, at any given time, but we owe it to our customers, to other breeders and to the hobby to represent things as they exist in reality. Pure means pure and a cross is a cross. Anything less than that is dishonest, at best. Not only does it hurt your customer, it hurts the integrity of the line moving forward (as those that purchased them as pure will now breed and sell the offspring as pure), and it hurts your reputation as a breeder. As someone recently said to me, "This is where brand loyalty comes into play".
To close, while I understand the temptation to cut corners, just don't do it. I have preached this stuff ad nauseam on the Strength in Leos podcast, and sometimes I wonder if anyone is actually listening. Sadly, this is not exclusive to newcomers to the hobby, and people that should know better aren't playing by the rules either. Be cautious of what you buy and where you buy it from. Do your research.
Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.
P A T I E N C E
Once in a great while over on Facebook, I'd do some more informational/knowledge, or even motivational-type posts. These usually spawned from something situational regarding breeding Leopard geckos that was a partciular 'breakthrough' moment for me, or maybe a lesson I'd learned along the way. It was really more about me sharing something with other breeders that maybe they too were experiencing on their own journeys.
If any of you are like me, all of the work and passion you've put into your geckos can sometimes present frustrations when things don't work out as 'planned'. One of your 'best' animals gets sick/passes away unexpectedly, an overzealous male prolapses to the point where he is no longer viable, you lose power for days right in the middle of the season with full incubators, maybe you get stiffed on $12k worth of geckos from another country...you know, the every day stuff. :) In all seriousness, I'm sure most of you can relate to your own disappointments.
I guess the point of all of this is that, no matter how many things like this crop up to attempt to derail you mentally, you have to be patient. Realize that, even in the worst cases, there's always next season. While my current situation is nothing like that of being stiffed for $12k, it has been a constant source of frustration for me for over two years. In 2018, Don Hamilton and I both invested in Carbons, a melanistic line from Poland, unrelated to any of the more well-known melanistic lines (BN, BP/CC, etc.). Being potentially the first breeders in the US to work with these, we were incredibly excited, and saw such huge potential, not only in Carbons themselves, but what they could potentially do regarding outcrossing/strengthening other melanistic lines, as these were big, stout geckos.
So between the two of us, we had four females shipped in, and spent over $5k. To date, not only have NONE of these females laid an egg, only one of them were ever even seen ovulating. That's right...FOUR females, TWO seasons, only ONE female was seen ovulating. While I do believe that these are a bit more challenging to see the follicles in, it was still just odd. This was a major source of frustration for both of us, feeling that we really had something special to start sharing with other US breeders, but it wasn't looking like it was meant to be.
Was it the flight over/geographical change from Poland to here? Were the females not accepting our males? (...maybe a bit, these females do seem a bit testy when it comes to male advances and are big enough to hold their ground firmly.) Anyway, we were really bummed and had both almost given up hope on any of these Carbons ever being viable.
Until 2021... I now have all four Carbon females and then it happened..the first female ovulated and was paired to my amazing Mack Snow BP/CC from John S. Then the second female started, and then the third. Still waiting on the fourth to catch up, but I'm confident. Now, fingers crossed for successful pairings and maybe, just maybe, EGGS. One week ago, while checking up on paired females, I saw them in the first female...EGGS! Next question, are they be viable?
I'll wrap this story up by telling you how important it is to stay focused on the end goal and always try to stay patient. Not everything is always going to go 'right', and not everything is going to happen overnight. At times, I was almost ready to write off the Carbons and just chalk it up to a loss. But finally, now, at almost three years old, they're ready on THEIR time, not mine. Don't allow letdowns and frustrations to become roadblocks to doing what you love to do.
The long and short of this to show that I pulled my first two totally healthy Carbon eggs tonight. Stoked.
Have an excellent 2021 season!
Chris Charlton is the founder and owner of Suburban Geckos.