The ball python craze has taken the reptile-loving community by storm. Over the last two decades, more and more people are adopting ball pythons for their pets. The demand continues to remain high as ever motivating breeders to produce as much baby ball pythons they can in search of the next big morph.
Ball Python what? Ball Python Morphs. What is that you ask? These so-called morphs are what’s made this community so vibrant, so alive, and so colorful. You can’t call yourself a ball python enthusiast if you don’t know what morphs are.
Fortunately for you, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide on ball python morphs. After you’re done with this article, you’ll be sure to know exactly what a python morph is, how many different types there are, and what are the most popular morphs out there.
What are you waiting for? It’s Morphin’ Time!
What is a Ball Python Morph?
Simply put, a morph is a snake belonging to the same species but on the basis of some genetic mutations, present with different colors or shapes. On a basic level, morphs are the same kind of snake except variations in their scales and eye color sets them apart from each other.
The basis of morphism lies in the mutation of the genetic make-up of the snakes. It is believed that ball pythons can have over 100 different color and pattern combinations. On this fact, the ball pythons are largely considered one of the most genetically varied animals in existence. It all began in the 1990s when many breeders brought in the ball pythons into the United States.
In the beginning, there were only the variation of base morphs available. Breeders in the US would bring these snakes together and breed them to produces more new morphs. These would initially sell for thousands of dollars due to the novelty in the appearance of the snakes. As time went on, the prices would drop as certain morphs become more common. But, that didn’t stop breeders from experimenting on what new mutation pattern they can bring out from their snakes.
How Many Different Ball Python Morphs are There?
The great thing about ball python morphs is that there is a wide variety to them. Though there are regular ball pythons you’ll appreciate over at the local pet store, these animals have a rich variety which you may better appreciate in reptile conventions. During these events, you will be surprised to see the ingenuity ball python breeders in the multitudes of ball python morphs that are on display.
There are 26 primary types of ball pythons officially recognized in the market. However, many breeders have taken much time to combine these different primary morphs to bring out a slew of different snake mutations to bring certain aesthetic characteristics out of these pets. As of this writing, there are over 7000 different morphs and submorphs that have come out of these efforts and that number continues to increase.
To give you a general idea just how many and just how varied these ball pythons can be, we’ll be listing down some of the known primary morphs available in the market:
- Blue Eyed Leucistic (BEL) Ball Python – Also known as the Blue-eyed Lucy, these ball pythons have characteristic blue eyes with a body having an all-white color.
- Bumblebee Ball Python – This ball python has a characteristic black and yellow color similar to a bumblebee. These morphs are not naturally occurring and must be bred in order to produce.
- Champagne Ball Python – These morphs possess a tan or orange color with patterns resembling stripes organized in an irregular manner. These dominant morphs also have a white belly.
- Butter Ball Python – These pythons have a more brown and yellow color compared to other regular morphs. As these pythons age, the brighter their color becomes.
- Candido Ball Python – Sometimes confused with an albino, these pythons have a grey and yellow color
- Vanilla Ball Python – These morphs have a characteristic brighter color compared to other pythons. What makes them unique is that these pythons’ colors become more bright as they age.
- Chocolate Ball Python – Colored in a darker brown and black, these morphs are the preferred pythons for those looking for darker colors.
- Super Blast Ball Python – Of the morphs so far, this python is yellow in color but with a characteristic lavender-colored head.
- Cinnamon Ball Python – Just like its name, the color of these morphs are somewhere along the shades of dark brown.
- Spotnose Ball Python – These morph of ball pythons have a characteristic spot on their noses. The head of these ball pythons has faded head pattern.
- Ghost Ball Python – These unique ball pythons have a color that appears to be fading all the time. It’s not uncommon to mistake these pythons as shedding
- Pinstripe Ball Python – Having stripes along its back, these ball pythons will also have brown colored bodies
- Gotta Have it! (GHI) Ball Python – A contender for most popular morphs, these ball pythons are heavily dark in color compared to regular ball pythons.
- Phantom Ball Python – Characterized by a lot of blushing, these ball pythons have a more brown color of their dorsal stripes.
- Ivory Ball Python – Similar in appearance to the Leucistic, ball pythons such as these actually have lighter yellow tint than white.
- Mystic Ball Python – Not to be confused with the Phantom Ball, ball pythons possess more creamy colors of their dorsal stripes on top of not having too much blushing in their side colors.
- Lesser Ball Python – Classically used for a lot of breeding processes, the Lesser ball pythons have richer brown and yellow colors. Their combination with other breeds tends to improve on colors and blushing of other morphs.
- Mojave Ball Python – These ball python morphs are distinguished by their unique “Mojave Patter” as well as a completely white underbelly
- Albino Ball Python – This is also a popular choice among the ball pythons. These ball pythons have a light yellow color not unlike other morphs but possess pink eyes and an underlying white color of the body.
- Spider Ball Python – These morphs are sought after for their cute look with a great combination of light brown, black, and white colors. They are also know to develop a rare neurologic problem of “head wobble” which detracts from its being a widely popular choice among the ball pythons.
You may be wondering for yourself with such a gargantuan selection of morphs available, which of the ball pythons is right for me? Well, on a basic level, these morphs are all essentially the same ball python. These pythons are the same docile and mild-mannered snake your local pet store manager is selling. It ultimately will come down to how you want your ball python snake to look like.
However, there are some python morphs that have stood out among the rests and have secured for themselves a spot in the hearts of many python morph fans. It’s difficult to come up with this list of most popular ball pythons without offending the sensibilities of hardcore fans out there.
What Are the Most Popular Ball Python Morphs?
It’s difficult to come up with a list of the most popular ball pythons due to the fact that the community appreciates various morphs and submorphs of these snakes. Certain circles within the community will appreciate one snake over another while others will support their own notion of what makes a popular ball python. Such is the beauty of this community when many of these pets possess unique characteristics that make them stand out.
However, time in and time out since the 1990s, certain morphs have consistently come out on top as having massive popularity with the community as can be seen in reptile convention or even impassioned online forums. Certain morphs are preferred for their distinct appearances as well as inherent characteristics that set them apart from other morphs in the market. We’ll be listing down next what we’ve found as the most popular ball python morphs in the market right now.
Axanthic Ball Python
The Axanthic Ball python is one of the most popular ball python morphs in the market right now. The defining characteristic of axanthics is that they lack the pigment for the either the red, yellow color or even both. What comes out of this color mutation are ball pythons with distinctly black, grey, silver or white colors.
Suffice to say, axanthic ball pythons are visually impressive. Some breeders have even gone so far as to create entire businesses around reproducing axanthics exclusively. One good example is the company JD Contrictor, a corporate ball python breeder that has produced a number of ball python morphs. They were successful in creating the most popular python morph to date called the Stormtrooper, which was a beautiful pure black and white ball python that looks like it came directly out of a Star Wars movie.
Fire Ball Python
Another standout candidate for the morphs is the fire ball python. Sometimes only called fireball, the fire ball python is considered a base morph and carries the highly versatile Fire gene. What this gene does is it lightens and enhances the colors of the snake. What comes out of this gene is usually a beautiful satin-like gold color with chocolate-like pigmentation where black usually appears.
The Fire gene associated with the fire ball python is a highly sought after characteristic of breeders due to the fact that it enchances certain morph characteristics when mixed with other morphs. One important example of this is the Black Eyed Leucistic, which is a white snake with solid black eyes that results from breeding two fire ball pythons together. Another important example is the FireFly, a ball python with jet black patterns over a neon yellow body color. This morph comes from combining a Fire with Pastel ball pythons and it makes for some great viewing pleasure.
Pastel Ball Python
Speaking of pastels, the pastel ball python is also one of the most popular options for morph enthusiasts out there. The Pastel ball python is a primary python morph and considered as one of the oldest morphs in the market. What distinguishes a pastel ball python is how it enhances and brightens the colors compared to a regular ball python. They have distinct side colors with a significant amount of flaming that makes their appearance pop out.
Pastel ball pythons are highly sought after by breeders due to the fact that their genes tend to improve on almost all the others. A great example is how their genes synergize when two pastel balls breed to produce a Super Pastel, which has a characteristic bright yellow color and significantly more flaming and blushing. Truly a visual marvel to behold.
Yellow Belly Ball Python
The Yellow Belly Ball Python was serendipitously discovered back in the late 90s. The credit is tagged to one Amir Soleymani who had bought what he thought at the time was a regular ball python. Over the years, this python he bought would later on display rather peculiar traits that were much different from a regular ball python.
Yellow Belly ball pythons had a rich color distribution with significant flaming over the side of the body. It’s head also had a clear marking peculiar to this morph. What’s most characteristic of this morph is the appearance of its belly: it has a clear yellow color with a checkered pattern along its edges. Further breeding experiments of these morphs would, later on, lead to the discovery of its superform the Ivory. These morphs would be distinguished from other pythons in that it possesses an off-white patternless color with a distinct pale yellow stripe down its back.
The Yellow Belly morphs are a popular morph now but it used to be one of the most underappreciated. It’s mostly because of its somewhat subtle color and characteristic changes not noticeable by the novice python peruser. However, breeders have caught on to the value of the Yellow Belly Ball morph and have not looked back since. The yellow belly still manages to surprise breeders with the color and pattern combinations that come out of breeding this gem of a morph.
What is the best ball python morph?
When you ask ball python owners which ball python morph is their favorite, ten times out of ten you will have different answers from all of them. This is due in large part to the fact that there are thousands of different ball pythons morphs available in the market with so many different mutations resulting in different appearances.
What can set some ball python morphs apart, however, are not their physical appearance but rather their innate traits that have come as a result of their mutations from frequent breeding. Some ball pythons become hardier in that regard and may even have more value over others. Others are just simply beautiful to look at, which merits them a spot in many enthusiasts’ top five lists.
We know this listing of best ball pythons may be controversial among the morph-loving community so take all this information with a grain of salt. The opinions expressed in this piece are largely our own and are not representative of the community as a whole. That is, after all, the beauty of the ball python community in itself. It is widely varied.
Piebald ball pythons
Our personal favorite is the Piebald ball python. The piebald ball is a recessive trait that results in a snake that’s only partially un-pigmented with a slew of different color and pattern mutations. What makes them visually distinct are the large patches of unpigmented areas throughout the body, not unlink how a Beagle appears with its colors. This ball python is still largely considered one of the most popular snakes on the market and traces its popularity back to when the entire ball python craze started in the early 90s.
The Piebald ball python is also an important pivot morph for many breeders in the market. The Pied gene combines beautifully with other morphs and has produced many landmark morphs. The Piebald and Pastel genes combine beautifully to create Pastel Pied ball pythons that sports some amazing blotches of brown colors amidst the white dominant color. The patches also will be bordered off with a distinct black.
How much are ball python morphs?
Breeders have come into a significant amount of success in the business of ball pythons and their morphs. After all, it’s not an easy process to have to sift through different types of morphs, bringing together two different pythons, breeding them successfully, and hoping the next batch of ball pythons produces the desired mutation you are looking for.
The process of creating is backed with a solid science dependent on dominant, recessive, co-dominant genes and other complicated nuances only the most dedicated of ball python enthusiasts are prepared to handle. It takes multiple attempts at such an intricate process to produce that one new morph you’ve been hankering to see.
To that end, the primary morphs of ball pythons have significantly gone down in price over the past few years. Due to their popularity, morphs such as the piebald, axanthic, pastel, and fire pythons are numerous. The amount of morphs available in a reptile convention alone is staggering!
A standard ball python will cost you on average $50 while a primary morph type will average you $75 to $100 in local and even online stores. Some ball pythons may cost more depending on the breeder and or submorph type. Of these morphs available, don’t be surprised if some of these ball pythons cost somewhere between $150 to even $4000 dollars.
However, for more intricate ball morphs and even their submorphs, the prices for theses pythons start to shoot up. If you peruse the collections of online stores such as the morph market, you’ll understand what we’re talking about. The most expensive ball python ever sold was a lavender albino for a whopping price of $40,000. These morphs don’t cost that much anymore as their current price is now at around $250.
What was the first ball python morph?
The story of the first morph is a piece of ball python history worthy of mention. As we’ve already stated, the 90s marked the time when many breeders in Africa saw the United Snakes as the fertile country for a snake craze. Having brought the ball pythons here, the breeders had piqued the interest of one Bob Clark.
In the year 1989, Bob Clark had heard from his contacts in Ghana that an amelanistic or albino python had been discovered. He proceeded to purchase that snake and had it brought to him in the United States. Because this adult snake was caught in the wild, Bob Clark was concerned whether this snake was going to thrive in the US as snakes caught in the wild we’re believed to have problems feeding once kept in captivitiy.
Not one to easily give up, Bob Clark has devised a plan. He had persistently dedicted his efforts to taming the snake and feeding it as how a captive snail ought. At the same time, Bob Clark believed the opportunity presented itself to reproduce an albino snake on his own in order to raise up a python from a hatchling and train it in captivity.
Bob Clark had embarked on a journey that would change the course of ball python history forever. In the year 1990, Bob Clark had bred two batches of heterozygous snakes and grew these ball pythons in preparation for breeding in two years. In May of 1992, Bob Clark had successfully bred his very own albino ball python. The albino ball python was the very first python morph in history.