Introduction

With so many new dragon morphs expected to debut this year, it’s only fitting that 2012 has been dubbed “The Year of the Dragon”!! This year, we will finally know if the mystifying Pied het pans out. We should begin to see some of the first domestically bred Silverbacks complete their transition into shimmering adults. We will also likely see Witblits produced for the first time in the US. This article however, isn’t about any of these morphs. It’s about the morph that we are the most excited about and have invested the majority of our time and resources into. In our opinion, it’s the most BADASS morph of them all!!! This article is about the beast that is, the Dunner!!

F2 Dunner produced by Steven Barnes of BloodBank Dragons. To produce this visually appealing specimen, he paired an F1 Dunner with a Millspaugh Red.

Origin

The origin of the Dunner is almost as mystical as the dragon itself. There are a couple of different stories floating around the hobby in regards to its origination. Having said that, there doesn’t seem to be enough evidence to support either claim. Prior to writing this article, I contacted all parties involved including the breeders whom are currently working with this morph. All provided me with vital information, for if it wasn’t for their insight, this article wouldn’t have been possible. I began this journey because as an enthusiast, I wanted to be able to provide the most accurate, up to date information on the morph itself. As a breeder, I wanted to know where the animal stood genetically so that I could utilize this information in my own breedings. Up to this point, the information that was available, was sparse to say the least. The origins of this morph center around a lot of hear say. In recent weeks, it was reported by an unnamed source at Sandfire, that the original animal was produced at their facility. This source, decided that it was in their best interest to not come forward and go on record. I did however, have the honor of speaking with herpetoculture pioneer Robert (Bob) Mailloux, whom founded Sandfire Dragon Ranch in 1993. Bob advised me that he was not aware of any Dunners ever being produced at his facility and added that the first time he had actually seen a Dunner, was at the Pomona Super Show earlier this month. In the end, you will have to form your own opinions about the Dunner and where it originated.

Comparison of a regular Dunner (left) and an Italian Leatherback Dunner (right), both of which are juveniles. The reduced scales on a leatherback allow you to view much more of the Dunner's unique back pattern.

Kevin Dunne of Dragon’s Den Herp is credited with producing the original animals, which would later be branded “Dunners”. Prior to producing the Dunner, Kevin was a well known breeder, whom in the mid 1990′s, had taken his expansive colony of dragons and merged with Sandfire. Kevin maintains that the Dunners originated from his personal line of “Blood” dragons. It wasn’t until he bred one of his blood males to a hypo blood female that he produced distinctly different looking dragons. His belief is that one of these animals exhibited the Dunner trait and that it faded over time, as there were no physical differences between the two. These distinctly different looking dragons accounted for roughly half of that clutch. He advised that he retained a few of the animals from the first clutch and sold the remaining twelve to Steven Barnes of BloodBank Dragons. A second clutch of eggs from the same pairing yielded multiple Dunners in it as well.

Steven Barnes began breeding bearded dragons in 2001 after selling off his large Madagascar Hissing Cockroach colony and re-investing the money into dragons. Despite developing an allergy that affects him to this day, those Hissers were probably the smartest business move that Steven ever made. With the emergence of the highly popular, translucent morph in 2005, Steven teamed with a well known breeder out of California by the name of Josh Dovenbarger. Josh, owner of Phantom Dragons, had already been breeding bearded dragons for roughly 10 years. In that time, he had established a reputation for producing some of the nicest, most cutting edge animals available. He is single handedly responsible for the translucent morphs existence today!! Steven began selling both he and Josh’s animals and within a couple of years, had cemented himself into the bearded dragon world as one of it’s moguls. Eleven years later, BloodBank Dragons is still going strong. Steven recently opened a newly constructed 20′ x 30′, bi-level shop and employs a full-time staff to help assist with the daily tasks around the shop.

The crazy back pattern of a juvenile, double het (hypo/translucent) Dunner. This female was one of the first double het Dunners produced by Clay Norsworthy of DNA Dragons.

Steven, like Josh, always had a knack for new and exciting morphs. When he heard of this “striped trait dragon” (as Kevin was referring to it), he had to take a look for himself. Right around the same time, friend and fellow breeder CJ Norsworthy of DNA Dragons had also caught wind of it. “I remember it very well” said Steven. “CJ had come by the shop one day and the first words out of his mouth were, ‘Have you seen those crazy looking dragons?’” They quickly decided to purchase the entire group from Kevin.

Steven purchased the bulk of the group while CJ took one pair. The initial animals (F1′s as they would later be deemed) were very weak and many of them perished shortly after Steven had purchased them. As a whole the dragon’s weren’t strong and seemed to be prone to respiratory infections. After several die-offs, Steven ended up with just two pair while CJ had just one female. If they were going to be able to produce with these animals, it looked as if they had their work cut out for them!!! I’m happy to report that Steven and CJ were both able to rehabilitate their sick animals and after growing them out for over a year, were able to produce the first F2 Dunners this past year (2011)!! Steven produced first with a couple of clutches hatching out from February thru May and CJ was next when he produced the first hypo and double het Dunners (hypo/translucent) in mid-July. Now let’s talk about the “F” business.

When speaking in terms of genetics, “filial” is a label assigned to organisms that are the result of crossing pure-bred parents. Filial’s help to organize and separate between different groups or generations. In regards to the Dunner, the filial designation appears unaffected by the uncertainties about their origination. Whatever theory you end up siding with, the Dunner filial remains the same. If you are partial to Kevin’s story, then he supplied Steven and CJ with F1 animals and the first round of offspring produced by BloodBank and DNA were F2′s. If you subscribe to the anonymous source at Sandfire, then Kevin used their “original” Dunner to produce F1′s, which were then sold to BloodBank and DNA. What’s most important here is that the morph is now in the hands of some of the best breeders in the business and their first priority is to strengthen the line as a whole. Early breedings indicate that we are already seeing vast improvements between the F1 and the F2 animals.

Physical Characteristics

Close-up of a normal dragon's belly scales (left) and those of a Dunner (right).

If a beastly dragon is what you desire, then look no further!! The Dunner is the closest mutation yet to a fictional dragon!!! It’s the newest and only dominate morph that has been proven over the last two years. Being as fresh as it is, none of the breeders currently working with the F1 and F2 animals have attempted a Dunner to Dunner breeding. Once more of the F2 animals reach breeding size we will likely see if in fact this morph proves out to be a “super co-dominate”. What does this mean? Nobody working directly with the morph can wrap their heads around it!! The platelike scales could mutate even larger and become more gnarly!!! They might have a solid line running the span of their entire body!! The possibilities seem endless with this dragon. As it stands right now, the morph in general is one of the most exciting things to come along in recent years.

The trait that most people notice right off the bat is their rugged appearance. The scales on the upper half of the Dunner (body and tail) are conical. They sort of resemble mini stalagmites. This results in a rougher texture when compared to a normal scaled dragon. Josh Dovenbarger of Phantom Dragons describes their texture, “The scales on these guys make them look like another lizard. They also feel completely different. Super rough. I think that they should be re-named “cat-tongue”.”

Close-up comparison of a normal dragon's beard (left), which has downward facing scales, and that of a Dunners (right), which grow left to right and upward.

This pattern of odd scalation extends to other areas of the dragon’s body as well. One of the most noticeable and intriguing areas is within the Dunner’s beard. The scales on a Dunner’s beard run left, right and up instead of down. This also gives them a much gruffer appearance and screams, “Don’t mess with me!!!” As you continue down the underside of the dragon you will notice that the belly scales, like the beard, also run multi-directional instead of the typical downward path. Starting in the center, you will notice that there is no distinct pattern or path. The scales run in all areas. As you move further away from the center, you will start to see them take on a left and right pattern. Another nuance within the Dunner’s belly pertains to their stress bars. When looking at a typical dragon, you will see that the stress bars are oval shaped whereas the Dunner exhibits perfect circles.

This photo represents how much larger a Dunner's (right) foot is when compared to that of a normal dragons (left).

Keeping theme with their beastly appearance we must also draw attention to the animals front and rear feet. The Dunner exhibits extra long toes and the foot as a whole is much larger then that of a normal dragons. This is evident even when they are hatchlings.

Before being dubbed the “Dunner” by Steven Barnes, Kevin had referred to them as “Striped Trait”. This was in reference to another distinguishing feature of the dragon, it’s tail. Aside from having the same rough scalation and conicals as the rest of the body, the tail exhibits a dash pattern that runs up and down the tail instead of the typical bands that wrap around a normal¬†dragons tail. We have seen that this trait varies from Dunner to Dunner with some having an almost solid line extending all of the way down the base of the tail. We have also noticed that Dunners as a whole, exhibit longer tails then a typical dragon.

Close-up of a normal dragon's tail (left) and a Dunners (right). Notice the lack of circular bands on the Dunner's tail.

As far as color is concerned, we are seeing a strong line of reds being bred into the F2′s. This is due in part to the original animals deriving from Kevin’s “Blood” lines. Some of the F1 animals exhibited red coloration and were the primary animals used by BloodBank and DNA. Steven and CJ both paired their animals with red partners. Steven paired one of his F1 males with a Millspaugh red female and CJ paired his F1 female with a completely saturated, Dachiu Hypo Trans male. This has resulted in the majority of the F2′s produced thus far having intense red coloration. It’s just a matter of time before we will start to see citrus crossed into the mix of Dunner flavors.

Conclusion

Pictured here are two F2 Dunner siblings. The hypo (left) exhibits more vibrant coloration then its normal (right) counterpart.

As it stands right now, there are only a handful of breeders in the entire world working with this morph. Despite the fact that the breeding of this animal is still in its infancy, many surprises are already in the works!!! Some breeders have already started to cross translucent and hypo genes into their offspring. We have already witnessed the first Hypo Dunners (DNA Dragons) and the first Leatherback and Hypo Leatherback Dunners (BloodBank Dragons) respectively. We hope that this article has better informed you about this elusive new morph and after viewing all of the pics that we have provided, you are as excited as we are about them!!!!!

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