What Is The Rarest Color In Reptiles?

November 2018

Question: I thought blue was the rarest color in reptiles, but now I’m wondering about pink. Are there any all-pink reptiles?
Stacy Garfield, Rapid City, S.D.

Coachwhip

Bill Love

Many coachwhips (Coluber [Masticophis] flagellum) have a ground color of pink, such as this one from near Phoenix, AZ.
 

Answer:  I’d say you were correct the first time in thinking blue is the least common color in the herp world. I say this not because it’s my favorite color, but because for that reason, I tend to notice it when it appears on any herp. Blue is not a pigment in herps, it’s produced by light being bounced through reflective cells called iridophores that some herps have in their skins.  


12 Blue Racers Successfully Hatched At Canada's Scales Nature Park


The color pink, on the other hand, is a result of the dilution of red pigment, which is a common pigment in many herps. The degree of pink intensity depends on how the other color covering it affects it. For instance, if a heavy shading of black pigment (melanin) is over the layer of red; it’s kind of like viewing red through a pair of very dark sunglasses.

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