I've been interested reptiles and amphibians for as long as I can remember. A group of us in elementary school would spend hours catching Red-sided Garter snakes and Pacific tree frogs at the creek adjacent to our school.
Fast forward to freshman year of college: I had a couple flavors of Corn snake and two Ball pythons. My then girlfriend was into snakes as well and even had a couple of her own.
We picked up several more specimens over the next several years: boids, pythons, colubrids (king, milk, and rat). However, our adult female Sinaloan milksnake was by far our favorite. She was beautiful, calm, and ate like a champ.
After we moved into a complex that didn't allow reptiles we were forced to give up our collections. We figured that we could eventually get new stock if we moved and gifted everything we had to friends and co-workers.
Several years, and relationships later, I decided that maybe it was time to look at getting back into the hobby.
Setting off to procure a couple of new snakes, I learned that a few things had changed in the decade that I was absent from keeping. For one, the $2000 albino Nelson's milksnake that I had drooled over back in 1998 was now a $40 snake. For another, nothing labeled as sinaloae looked like my beloved Sinaloans of yesteryear.
Turns out, that in a mad rush to make some money off of this $2000 albino snake, just about everyone had bred the relatively rare Nelson's to the more commonly available Sinaloan. Leaving in its wake a series of rather generic West Mexican tricolors with features intermediate of either parent species. To make matters worse, things got even more convoluted with the intentional crossing of the albino gene into the Pueblan milksnake in the early/mid 2000's.
In my opinion, there is little doubt that there is easily a mix of all three of these subspecies in a lot of modern hobby West Mexican tricolored milksnakes.
While at a reptile shop, I was muttering to myself about how none of these snakes look like what I remember. Another breeder overhears my comments and offers his option - "Why don't you pick a couple that look closest to what you remember and line breed them until they look like what your ideal is?"
Unsolicited, maybe. Great idea, definitely.
So I set out to procure some of the best phenotypes from all across the country. I now work with stock originating from Robert Applegate, EBV (Ron Cauble), John Cherry (Llemke/Grumbeck Cosala), BHB (Llemke/Moody nelsoni), Bob Hansen, Shannon Brown, Robert Seib, Mark Bell, and as well as some hobby specimens that are meristically true and have appealing aesthetics.
I do my best to offer specimens that match the pictures in the books :)