The world of ball python breeding is complicated and fascinating. Who doesn’t want a yellow banana snake? There are literally hundreds of different morphs available. Creating designer snake morphs by breeding two different morphs to one another is a lot of fun.
Banana snakes are a natural, wild-occurring ball python morph that’s a light orange or yellow color. You can breed them with many other morphs to produce different patterns and colors. They don’t have any known genetic issues, e.g., kinks or low birth rate.
The banana ball python has puzzled breeders for years. It wasn’t clear how the morph worked—why it was passed on to certain offspring, but not others. But recent research into the genetic origin of the morph has shed light on why it’s so different to other morphs.
What Is a Banana Ball Python?
Banana ball pythons (or the banana royal python) are what’s known as a ball python ‘morph’. Morphs are variants on a species or subspecies of a snake.
So, whereas a regular specimen of a species might be brown, a morph might be white, yellow, red or black, for example. Or, having a pattern of stripes, they might appear mottled, spotted or plain.
Other kinds of morph don’t have scales, or are smaller (i.e., dwarf). All ball python morphs are still part of the same species, python regius.
Banana ball pythons are a ball python morph that’s yellow, instead of yellow, brown and black. They have lost their dark coloration, and their yellow coloration has become stronger.
They retain the same pattern as a regular ball python, but where the normal dark part of the pattern is dark brown or black, for a banana ball python, it’s light cream or pink. They may also have black spots at points along their body, like a banana that’s turning over-ripe.
There are two kinds of morph. There are those that occur as a result of natural mutations, e.g., albinos. Then, there are those that only occur as a result of interbreeding.
Banana ball pythons are a base morph, in that they are naturally occurring. However, the other kinds listed here are the latter, those that have been bred with different morphs.
Banana Ball Python Facts
- Ball pythons are one of the smallest of all the pythons. They only reach three or four feet long.
- Rather than get aggressive when confronted, ball pythons avoid conflict by curling up into a tiny ball. By hiding their head, they hope they’ll avoid serious injury. This is where the name ‘ball python’ came from.
- They’re constrictors, so they aren’t venomous. They’re no danger to a person.
- Despite being so small, they have an extraordinary lifespan. They can live for thirty years or more. According to a Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society, the oldest known ball python was at least 47.
- In the wild, they’re a favorite snack for bigger snakes and birds of prey.
Banana Ball Python Morphs and Costs
Let’s get started with a brief overview of the most common ball python morphs, what they look like, and how much they cost.
|Banana Ball Python:||$150||A yellower ball python than usual.|
|Super Banana:||$700||Like the regular banana ball python, but even more yellow.|
|Banana Albino:||$400||Their second color changes from pink to cream.|
|Banana Coral Glow:||$700||It was only recently figured out that bananas and coral glows are the same types of snake. A ‘banana coral glow’ is, therefore, the same as a super banana.|
|Banana Pied:||$600||A regular banana snake, but with pure white sections.|
|Banana Enchi:||$225||A yellow or mustard color, with light to a mid-pink pattern.|
|Banana Ivory:||$375||A pink-white snake with no pattern.|
|Banana Inferno:||Unknown||These snakes probably have a mix of yellow and fiery red coloration, but they are practically unheard of.|
|Banana Jigsaw:||$300||A variable snake, but usually the color of caramel, with a subtle pattern.|
|Banana Fireball:||$200||These snakes are usually bright yellow with a bright pink pattern in between. They stand out.|
|Banana Lemon:||$250||Banana lemon ball pythons have a bright yellow dorsal stripe, and soft cream or pink sides.|
|Banana Cinnamon:||$200||These snakes are quite dark, with patches of orange or red along their body. They aren’t very yellow at all.|
|Banana Pastel:||$200||They’re a light pink underneath, with dark pink, dark pattern. The border of their dark pattern is a blurry yellow. These snakes have very muted and neutral colors, hence the name.|
What Are the Best Ball Python Morphs to Breed?
Some of the banana ball python combos listed above are quite common, whereas others are practically unknown. We’ve included the prices for any of the ones we could find—but some weren’t on offer from any known breeder.
The best morphs to breed are those that don’t have any genetic abnormalities. Many morphs are well known for physical and neurological issues, including:
- Spider morph. These snakes have problems with balance, as well as a head wobble. Breeding a spider with a spider can be lethal if the offspring has two sets of the spider gene.
- Woma or hidden gene woma. These snakes have a head wobble, too.
- Albino snakes. These snakes often have eye problems, as well as lowered immunity. Because of captive breeding, they may also have inbreeding issues.
- BELs/Blue-eyed leucistic snakes. These snakes can be born with ‘bug eyes,’ eyes much larger than average.
Understanding Ball Python Genetics
Ball pythons are different from other snakes in how they pass on their genetics. To understand how, we have to think about genetics generally. Until very recently, all snakes were thought to have ZW chromosomes.
Chromosomes, to get specific, are the animal’s DNA. As you know, DNA dictates the appearance and physical structure of an animal. The sex chromosomes are what give male and female animals different sex organs and structures.
Humans have an XY system. Women have XX sex chromosomes, whereas men have XY chromosomes. This means that it’s the sperm rather than the egg which decides the sex of offspring.
That’s because there’s a 50% chance the man will pass on an X chromosome, or a Y chromosome. The woman will always provide an X chromosome to whatever offspring they produce.
In animals with ZW chromosomes, females are heterogametic, i.e., they are the ones with two different chromosomes (ZW). Males are homogametic (ZZ). They have two exact copies of the same chromosome.
This means that it’s the female’s egg that decides which sex the offspring will be. It was thought for half a century or more that this was the case for all snakes—but it’s not. Ball pythons, at least, are XY rather than ZW.
In humans, the X and Y chromosomes don’t tell the body much more than what sex you are. But in some animals, snakes included, their sex-determinant chromosomes can also determine their size, color, pattern and so on as well as their sex. This is crucial to how banana ball python genetics works.
Why Does This Matter?
This is crucial because according to a paper in Current Biology, the banana ball python morph is in the snake’s X chromosome. It also matters because up until this discovery was made, banana ball python genetics didn’t make sense. Until recently, they were an anomaly among ball python morphs.
What’s confused breeders up until now has been this. The banana offspring of a male banana ball python whose father was also a banana will be 95% male. Female banana ball pythons can produce both male and female banana ball pythons.
But all of the banana offspring of a male banana ball python whose mother was a banana will be 95% female. Search for banana ball pythons for sale, and you’ll come across the terms ‘male maker’ and ‘female maker’ all the time—this is what that means.
This only works if the male has XY sex determinant genes, and the female has XX. To clarify further:
- A female who has the banana ball python gene must have it in her X chromosome. Since both males and females have the X gene, she can pass it on to both male and female offspring.
- A male who has the banana ball python gene, who inherited it from the female parent, must have the gene in their X chromosome. If the male passes on their X chromosome to their offspring, that offspring will be a female (since it will have two X chromosomes).
- A male who has the banana ball python gene, who inherited it from the male parent, must have the gene in their Y chromosome. If the male passes on their Y chromosome to their offspring, that offspring will be a male (since it will have an X and a Y chromosome).
This wouldn’t have made sense if ball pythons had ZW genetics. If that were the case, then a male banana ball python would have equal parts male and female banana ball python offspring.
On rare occasions, genetics can bend these rules. Sometimes, part of one chromosome will detach and then attach itself to the other chromosome.
According to a paper published in Genetics, this is known as chromosomal crossover. In the case of a male who inherited their banana gene from another male, if the banana gene crosses over to the X chromosome, their daughter could inherit it. This only happens rarely.
Why Is Breeding Banana Ball Pythons Different?
It’s different because the banana morph is a part of the X chromosome, but no other ball python morph is. There’s no such thing as a ‘male maker’ enchi, or a ‘female maker’ albino.
That’s because the genetic mutations that create these morphs aren’t within the sex chromosomes. They’re therefore passed down in equal ratios, no matter what the sex of the offspring, unlike the banana morph.
And not only that, but it’s different because other snakes are still known to have ZW chromosomes. According to the journal Evolution, less genetically ‘advanced’ snakes like boas and other pythons do have ZW sex chromosomes. It’s little wonder breeders were so confused.
Banana Ball Python Genetic Issues
Banana ball pythons aren’t particularly affected by genetic issues. Many specific morphs of ball python have genetic issues, which range from severe and life-threatening to merely aesthetic.
Spider ball pythons, for example, are renowned for their head wobble. They pass it on to any offspring they have, including bumblebee ball pythons, which are a similar kind of yellow to bananas (but with black stripes). These snakes are often born with severe head wobbles and balance issues.
However, just because they look somewhat similar, they don’t share the same issues. The genetic mutation that causes the bumblebee morph is entirely different from the one that causes the banana morph. It’s in a different location in the snake’s genes.
That means that just because the morph looks similar, that doesn’t mean it’s actually the same mutation that’s causing it—so the same genetic issues don’t apply.
Banana Ball Python Morphs List
This next section is all about the morphs we described above. However, here, we go into a little more detail about them. Let’s take a look at each, starting with the super banana!
A super banana is a ball python with banana genetics that comes from both its mother and father. To achieve this, you have to breed two banana ball pythons together.
Their offspring will be 25% super banana, 25% regular banana, and 25% normal. Because super banana ball pythons have two sets of this gene, they’re even more yellow than the average ‘banana.’
The gene that turns banana ball pythons yellow is an incomplete dominant gene, or what’s called in the snake trade a ‘co-dom’ or ‘co-dominant’ gene.
This means that the gene is dominant over a recessive gene, but if the snake has two co-dom genes, that gene will be expressed twice as much. So, a banana ball python with two yellow-enhancing co-dom genes will be even more yellow than a regular banana ball python.
Banana Albino Ball Python
Albinos are another natural morph that originated in the wild. They lose the melanin in their scales, which is what gives them their dark coloration. Crossbreeding a regular banana ball python to an albino is possible. When you do, they retain their yellow pattern but lose all other color.
So while a regular banana will have a gray or even pink background color, the banana albino doesn’t. They’re yellow and cream or white.
Banana Coral Glow Ball Python
Back when coral glows were first discovered by NERD (New England Reptile Distributors) in 2002, they were a brand new, never-before-seen bright-yellow color.
Just a year later, the first banana ball pythons were bred by Will Slough. These snakes were bright-yellow too, with the same pink pattern between. The big difference between the two? There isn’t much.
Ever since, there’s been debate as to whether they’re the same morph or not. You can still find snakes listed as coral glows, and, obviously, snakes listed for sale as bananas too. So, a hypothetical ‘banana coral glow’ ball python would be the same as a super banana.
Banana Pied Ball Python
‘Pied’ means piebald. Horses can be piebald, for example. It’s where they’re covered in irregular patches of color (typically black and white). Cows are the best-known example of a piebald pattern.
Piebald ball pythons are beautiful. They have sections of their regular yellow and gray/pink, interspersed with sections of pure white. These pure white sections are a real white, not like the white you get with some albino morphs, for example.
In the most extreme cases, a banana pied ball python will have a banana ball python head, with the usual yellow and gray/pink pattern, with an entirely white body.
Banana Enchi Ball Python
Enchi ball pythons are a warm gold or orange color. These snakes have a reduced pattern, specifically with less banding. The most sought-after examples are quite orange indeed.
They were initially mistaken for a variant of pastel ball pythons, but the genetic mutation that leads to them is a different one. You can also get super enchis, which are like super bananas.
Banana enchis have dense yellow coloration. Their dark pattern, by contrast, is a light or dark pink color, perhaps even with some orange inside large patterned sections. They look luminescent, like somebody drew all over them with a Sharpie!
Banana Ivory Ball Python
Ivory ball pythons are what everybody imagines albinos to be. They’re a pure ivory-white, which is just a shade lighter than snow white. However, unlike albinos, they have dark black eyes.
Depending on the purity of the morph, the snake can range from this ivory-white color to a darker, plain cream-yellow with a brighter yellow and lavender stripe running down their back.
A banana ivory ball python is not much different to a regular ivory ball python. There are very few available. The only ones found so far are a pinkish-cream rather than a cream-yellow color, and they seem to lack the stripe running along their back.
That isn’t to say that they’re not a beautiful snake—the ivory ball python is nice enough anyway—but the scant difference between banana ivory and regular ivory is probably the reason they haven’t been bred all that much.
Banana Inferno Ball Python
Inferno ball pythons are the result of a whole lot of captive breeding. You need yellowbelly, pastel, granite as well as hidden gene woma. They’re a marvelous snake with exceptional color and pattern.
They have the pattern of a regular ball python, but with very high contrast. Their dark coloration is very dark, almost black. But by comparison, their light coloration is a bright yellow. Not only that, though, but the dark pattern fades into a deep red—hence the name “Inferno.”
There have only ever been one or two banana infernos bred in captivity. As such, it’s not exactly clear what they’d look like.
Banana Jigsaw Ball Python
The jigsaw ball python is a cross between the pinstripe and the Mojave. This snake has a pronounced mustard-yellow stripe along its back, and a light brown pattern fading to an off-white underbelly.
A banana jigsaw is essentially the same, but they are quite variable. They may be a dull yellow or even cream all along its body. And instead of dark brown outlines to their pattern, they have a light orange outline instead. Their head is the same light orange color. It’s a very subtle pattern that looks smooth and creamy like caramel.
Banana Fireball Python
A fireball python is lighter, more creamy-yellow than a regular ball python (and they only get lighter with age). The great thing about fireball pythons is that the fire gene is a “clean up” gene.
This means that when you breed a cleanup gene to something like a pastel, for instance, the pastel gene is enhanced. Some genes bring out vibrant colors, whereas some bring out the pattern.
And that’s precisely what you get with a banana fireball. The banana fireball python is another high-contrast snake, totally unlike the banana jigsaw. First off, their light coloration is a reasonably even yellow color that looks like a highlighter.
But interspersed between is the regular ball python pattern. Instead of dark brown, though, it’s a very light pink color. The lines of their pattern are quite broad, and they don’t have a stripe running along their back.
Banana Lemon Ball Python
A lemon blast ball python is a deep orange and yellow colored snake that retains the usual ball python pattern. They may have quite dark heads, brown fading to gray. They can also vary between bright yellow and orange to a deeper, mottled brown with lighter sides.
A banana lemon blast has a yellow dorsal stripe, surrounded by pinkish-white sides. Their head is plain pink-white.
They keep their usual ball python pattern, but it’s much more subtle than usual. The darkest outlines of each stripe are dark pink, and don’t stand out as they usually would.
Banana Cinnamon Ball Python
A banana cinnamon ball python is a beautiful snake. They’re a crossbreed between cinnamons and bananas. Cinnamons start as a darker ball python than most.
If you breed them to an enchi ball python, though, this brings out a deeper red coloration—like cinnamon. When you breed a cinnamon enchi to a banana ball python, though, you get the craziest mish-mash.
In parts, they turn a vibrant, luminescent orange-red. In other regions, they’re a flat or muted yellow that fades into the orange. The dark coloration of the pattern in between changes from a dark brown, as it is in a cinnamon enchi, to a dull gray.
This snake is exceptionally colorful, although it’s not related to a banana—the yellow coloration takes a back seat to the bright, almost basketball-style orange.
Banana Pastel Ball Python
The banana pastel ball python is hardly a banana at all! They have barely any yellow coloration. They’re a light pink underneath, with dark pink, dark pattern. The border of their dark pattern is a blurry yellow. These snakes have very muted and neutral colors, hence the name.
Banana Ball Python Breeding Guide
So, we covered above how ball pythons actually have XY genetics rather than ZW genetics. But that’s just one of the many building blocks to understanding the breeding process.
To start with, you can’t create a banana ball python. They’re the result of a natural morph, so if you don’t currently have a banana ball python, you’ll need to buy one.
You’re going to be best off getting a female banana ball python, since they can give birth to both male and female banana offspring. Like we said above, males are either male makers or female makers, so you would only be stuck with snakes of one sex if you did that.
You’re going to need a breeding pair, so you should first pick your female banana ball python. Buy her from a reputable breeder. Make sure that she’s strong and healthy before buying her.
- Check that she isn’t overweight or underweight. An underweight snake has concave sides. An obese snake has a very wide middle, plus scale spreading, where the scales have gaps between them.
- Check that she doesn’t have any parasites like mites or ticks. These are most common on wild-caught snakes, but can be transferred to any snake if they’re not well taken care of.
- Check that she’s been shedding correctly, in particular, if she has any retained shed. If she has shiny scales, she’s probably just shed.
- Check that she isn’t wheezing or coughing. This is a sign of a respiratory infection.
- If possible, check that she has a strong feeding response.
- If possible, check that she doesn’t have mouth rot.
It’s vital that your female banana ball python is in top condition, because creating and laying eggs is hard work! Once you have your female, pick the male you’d like her to breed with.
This snake can be whatever other morphs you like—amelanistic, axanthic, anything you like. Of course, it’s crucial that he’s healthy too.
How to Breed Two Ball Pythons
Before you get started, you should know that the female must be of the correct weight/size before breeding. If she isn’t big enough, she stands a chance of becoming egg-bound. This is where she physically can’t squeeze out the eggs she’s trying to lay.
This can very quickly kill her. So before you get the two to breed, make sure that she’s at least 1200g. Some breeders wait until she’s more, either 1500g or 1800g, but breeding is possible at 1200g. The same goes for males, who should be at least 700g.
To get the snakes to breed, you have to stimulate them by lowering the temperature in their enclosures. Most snakes in the wild breed during the warm season, which comes after the fall and winter.
To simulate this in their enclosure, lower the temperature in their enclosure by five degrees. Lower the temperature during the night by the same amount. Keep the temperature low for two or three months before raising it gradually, day by day, back to normal.
Once the ‘winter’ is over, they’ll be more inclined to mate. Begin by stimulating the male by placing him in an enclosure with other males. This will encourage them to compete for the female’s attention.
Once they start squaring up to one another—they will raise their necks and ‘stand up’—the male is ready. Put him in the enclosure with the female. Keep an eye on them. They’re likely to fight a little, but that’s normal. When they calm down, that’s when they’ll start mating. Don’t disturb them.
If mating were successful, the female would lay eggs in five weeks. They’ll hatch in 80 days. In the meantime, it’s best to keep them in an incubator for further detailed instructions on incubation.
Why Do Banana Snakes Have Spots?
Banana ball pythons get their name from being bright yellow. But on top of that, they even have dark brown or black spots along their body that make them look like they’re turning ripe.
Some banana ball pythons have these spots, whereas others don’t; that’s down to their genetic makeup and nothing more. But why do banana ball pythons have spots?
The cause is genetic. It stands to reason that you could breed the freckles out—and you can. For starters, super bananas don’t have any spots. And the offspring of any banana you breed to a snake with BEL (blue-eyed leucistic) genes will either have reduced spots, or no spots at all.
The gene that is expressed in these spots perhaps isn’t dominant, and is canceled out by these other genes. But in snakes that do have spots, this gene is expressed.