what is an axanthic ball python?
Questions About Snakes

What Makes an Axanthic Ball Python?

Axanthic ball pythons are a base morph, which means that they can sometimes be found in the wild. Breeders like axanthics because they are beautiful snakes, and they can produce snow ball pythons.

The axanthic ball python is a base morph that is black, gray/silver and white. Their color changes because of a recessive gene. Some axanthics will ‘brown out’ as they get older.

Some breeders specialize solely in axanthics. JD Constriction produces axanthic designer morphs. These snakes are popular with breeders because their offspring (snows) fetch good prices.

What Does an Axanthic Ball Python Look Like?

Axanthics are entirely black, white, and gray/silver all over. Any brown and yellow colors have completely faded away. That’s why they were given the name ‘axanthic.’ Axanthic comes from Greek, meaning ‘lacking yellow’.

There are several lineages of the axanthic ball python. Some look almost the same from the moment they’re hatched until they age. Others will develop a slight brown tinge in the pale part of their pattern as they age.

Axanthic snakes rely on a mutation in their genes to appear the way they do. All ball python morphs are the same in that way.

axanthic ball python vs. normal

VPI vs Snake Keeper vs Jolliff vs Marcus Jayne

The four lines are VPI, Snake Keeper, Jolliff, and Marcus Jayne. In terms of appearance, each line is very similar to the others.

Some breeders think that VPI snakes hold their color better than other lines. The other 3 tend to ‘brown out,’ i.e. get a brown tinge more than VPIs.

VPI, Snake Keeper and Jolliff lines are all incompatible with one another. So, you can’t breed them to create new axanthics.

Is the Axanthic Gene Recessive?

The axanthic gene is recessive. According to NCBI, this means that a ball python needs to have two sets of the same axanthic gene in order for the snake to be black and white. This means that the gene is ‘homozygous,’ i.e. both genes are the same (‘homo’).

The opposite is ‘heterozygous,’ i.e. the pair of genes are different from one another (‘hetero’). This is important to remember if you want to breed axanthics or any morph with recessive genes.

How Much Do Axanthic Ball Pythons Cost?

Axanthic ball pythons vary in price for several reasons. As mentioned, many of them will ‘brown out,’ which affects their monotone look. You can buy them for as little as $50.

Breeding age females of any morph tend to be more expensive. If you were to keep one, and breed it, you could potentially make your money back. These would cost several hundred dollars each.

Whatever the case, axanthics aren’t that common. Far more common online are axanthics that are crossbred with other morphs (designer morphs). These snakes fetch $200-300, or more if it’s a good looking snake. Here’s some further information on how much snakes cost.

Axanthic Ball Python Morphs

Black Axanthic:An axanthic line that’s particularly black.
Red Axanthic:A morph that has a light tan and slightly red hue.
Super Pastel Axanthic:These snakes are white and black, with a little gray in between. They often have extensive blushing.
Axanthic Clown:Look like regular axanthics, but with the clown pattern (a dark stripe along the back).
Stormtrooper:They start out as clear and crisp black and white with no gray color in between. Turns smudgy as it ages.
Axanthic Albino:Normal looking, but het for snow.

Black Axanthic Ball Python

Black axanthics are a new line of axanthics, first bred in 2008 by Tracy Barker. They’re a base morph rather than a designer morph.

While they lack yellow, they also don’t have the light grays/silver axanthics usually do. They have small outlines of white that aren’t so obvious.

Not all examples are quite as dark. They range from almost regular axanthics to very dark. They don’t brown out in the way that other lines do.

Red Axanthic Ball Python

Red axanthics are different from regular axanthics. Their mutation is codominant rather than recessive. That means that heterozygous red axanthics are a visual morph, and that a super morph is possible.

As the name suggests, they have a red hue to them. They may also have a slightly different pattern (a pure black back).

Super Pastel Axanthic Ball Python

The super pastel axanthic is a variable snake. It starts out as pure white and black. It may also have white blushing in its dark black pattern.

Over time, it will fade out a little, almost like regular axanthics experience ‘brown out.’ Instead, the super pastel axanthic will get lighter as it ages. The blush in its pattern becomes more prominent and the high contrast between white and black disappears.

It’s like the reverse of an axanthic. Rather than appearing dark because of all the gray, it appears light because of its bright white.

Axanthic Clown Ball Python

Clown ball pythons don’t just have a different color, but a different pattern. Again, their mutation is recessive. They get a reduced pattern overall, but also a wide dorsal stripe (along their back).

In some specimens, the pattern of stripes along their sides is almost or absent. Their name comes from the original clown ball python, which had dots underneath its eyes, which looked like a clown’s makeup.

An axanthic clown takes this pattern, but keeps the axanthic color. They have a stripe running along their back that may have a small amount of white/silver blushing. Their sides are silvery gray.

Stormtrooper Ball Python

The stormtrooper isn’t a true axanthic snake. When it’s born, it has an incredible black and white contrast. That’s where the name ‘stormtrooper’ came from, i.e. the black and white soldiers from Star Wars.

When it was first on sale, it wowed buyers. Unlike axanthics, it has no gray, the white is pure white, and the black is pure black. Nobody had ever seen anything similar. That’s why it was initially listed for prices of $50,000.

But as the snake aged, its color and pattern changed. The black pattern started to spread and smudge. It became blurry, like ink spreading on paper. It’s like the reverse of the super pastel axanthic.

In the end, the snake became almost equal parts black and white. It was smudgy and splotchy, but it’s still a unique snake.

Axanthic Albino Ball Python

Axanthic albinos come out looking like healthy offspring. You get normal snakes that are het for snow. When you breed a pair of these snakes together, there’s a 1/16 chance that the offspring will be a snow.

how to breed axanthic ball pythons

How to Breed Axanthic Ball Pythons

Because the axanthic gene is recessive, it means that the snake has to be homozygous for the axanthic gene.

It needs to get the axanthic gene from both parents, not just one. Otherwise, the normal ball python appearance genes would be expressed.

Ball Python Recessive Gene Breeding Program

You need to breed two homozygous axanthics together. If you do, then 100% of the offspring will be axanthic. In the breeding world, this is a real bonus as many programs don’t guarantee a certain offspring.

It is possible to breed two heterozygous axanthics together. These snakes don’t display the axanthic gene because it’s recessive. They look normal.

If you breed two het axanthics, there’s a much smaller chance of axanthic offspring. 25% of the offspring will be normal, 50% will be het axanthic and 25% will display the axanthic gene.

Axanthic Ball Python Breeding Process

Breeding involves the following a defined process for maximum effectiveness. That process is as follows:

  1. Buy everything you need in advance. That means tubs, substrate, an incubator, and any extra males/females you need.
  2. Temperature cycle your ball pythons. Lower the ambient temperature in November by around ten degrees. This simulates winter.
  3. Raise the temperature at the start of March. Do so slowly over a week.
  4. Feed your male and female to get their weight back up.
  5. Introduce the male to the female. Leave them together for an hour to see if they start mating.
  6. If they don’t, you should put the male with another male for an hour. This encourages them to compete for the female.
  7. Reintroduce the male and female every other day. Continue until the female isn’t interested. This likely means that she’s pregnant.

Once the snake becomes gravid (pregnant), follow conventional breeding protocols. That means keeping the eggs inside an eggbox, inside an incubator. Here’s our guide to incubating eggs. Like all ball python eggs, they will take between 53-55 days to hatch.