With beautiful yellow markings, banana ball pythons are one of the most popular morphs. The first banana ball python was discovered in the wild, but they’ve been captive-bred since the early 2000s.
Banana ball pythons have bright yellow blotches and black freckles on a lavender background. The banana gene is codominant, so a snake carrying 1 banana gene will express the morph. A snake that inherits 2 genes will be a ‘super banana’, with a faded pattern and no black spots.
A male banana ball python will either be a ‘male maker’ or a ‘female maker’. This means he’ll father predominantly male or female bananas. Female banana ball pythons pass their gene down to both male and female offspring equally.
What Is a Banana Ball Python?
The banana ball python is a type of ball python morph. This means it’s a snake that has a genetic mutation, causing it to look different to a normal or wild-type specimen. The banana gene can be passed down and selectively bred for.
These snakes were first found in the wild, as an incredibly rare natural genetic mutation. The first two wild-caught bananas were discovered in the early 2000s. Two different breeders each gave the morph different names: “banana” and “coral glow”.
At first, it was assumed that banana and coral glow were two different morphs. But they turned out to be exactly the same thing. You’ll still see both terms used by breeders. Coral glow ball pythons are descended from a different bloodline, but they look identical to bananas.
Banana ball pythons are so named because they are yellow in color. Most of the natural black and dark brown coloration is lost, creating a much lighter snake. They also have brown speckles that resemble the spots on a ripe banana.
How Much Do Banana Ball Pythons Cost?
When the banana gene was first discovered, it was extremely rare. The first banana ball pythons sold for as much as $25,000 each. But as more people bred them, the market was soon flooded, and their price plummeted.
Fortunately, they are now much more affordable. You can pick one up for $150 – 250. If the snake has multiple different traits, it will cost more. Designer banana ball pythons, carrying 3 or more genes, can sell for thousands of dollars.
Females generally cost more than males, as they can produce both male and female banana babies. A male will sire almost exclusively males or females.
What Do Banana Ball Pythons Look Like?
The banana gene affects the color of a ball python’s scales. The snake’s background color, which would normally be black, is instead a beautiful, pale pinkish-grey. Some describe it as lavender.
The irregular dorsal blotches, rather than being brown, are bright yellow with some orange tones. The vivid yellow and orange blushing almost makes the banana ball python look luminescent. It’s easy to understand why the alternative name is ‘coral glow’.
Most also have some black freckling. This becomes more apparent with age: juveniles usually have none at all. A banana ball python’s eyes are usually lighter than a normal. They can be grey or brown, and sometimes have a reddish glow in the right light.
The banana gene does not affect size or body shape. Like normal ball pythons, female banana ball pythons are larger than males. Females can grow up to 5 feet, whereas males usually remain between 2 and 3 feet long.
Do Banana Ball Pythons Change Color?
Banana ball pythons go through a visible color transformation as they get older. The various pigments in the scales can become darker or lighter with age, or change tone entirely.
This change can be subtle or more drastic depending on the individual snake. As a banana ball python ages, the following changes take place:
- The pinkish-lavender parts of the pattern slowly change to grey or tan
- Most of the orange pigmentation fades to yellow
- The bright yellow pigmentation fades to a paler, lighter yellow color
- Small black spots, or ‘freckles’, can begin to form in random patterns over the snake’s body
All of these changes mean that a hatchling banana ball python can look very different from an adult. So, when purchasing a young snake, be aware that it won’t look the same as it grows up. Fortunately, both juveniles and adults are beautiful in their own ways.
Why Do Banana Ball Pythons Have Spots?
One of the most interesting things about the banana morph is the little black freckles that appear with age. Whoever named the first banana ball python must have noticed this. It almost seems as though the snake is ‘ripening’, like a real banana.
Every banana ball python will have a different number and distribution of spots. It’s purely a feature of the gene that produces the banana morph. There’s no way to predict how many spots a banana ball python will get when it grows up.
However, adding another gene (to make a designer banana ball python) can reduce or remove the spots. For example, banana mojaves, and lesser bananas have little or no freckling. And interestingly, super bananas (snakes with two banana genes) don’t have spots, either.
What Genes Make a Banana Ball Python?
Unlike some morphs, such as bumblebee ball pythons, you can’t ‘make’ a banana ball python. That’s because it’s a single-gene morph. The baby must inherit a banana gene from one of its parents.
The banana gene is codominant: any snake carrying a banana gene will express the trait. In other words, there’s no such thing as a ball python that is ‘het for banana’, but looks normal. This is only the case for recessive genes, such as albino.
So, to make banana ball python babies, either the mother or the father must be banana themselves. Breeding a normal ball python with a banana ball python should create 50% normal babies, and 50% bananas.
If you breed two banana ball pythons together, each baby has a 25% chance of being ‘super banana’. This means they carry two copies of the banana gene. They will be much paler yellow, and not get any black spots as they age.
However, the banana gene is a bit more complicated than most other traits. This is because the gene is sex-linked: a male banana ball python will produce different offspring than a female.
Male Maker vs. Female Maker
When a female banana ball python ovulates, she’ll pass her banana gene onto about half of her eggs. Each baby carrying the banana gene will have a 50% chance to be male or female.
But if a male banana ball python breeds, things are very different. He will father almost exclusively male or female bananas. This depends on whether he gets his banana gene from his mother, or his father.
If he gets his banana gene from his mother, he will be a ‘female maker’. Over 95% of his offspring that inherit his banana gene will be female. But if he inherits his banana gene from his father, he’ll be a ‘male maker’. Over 95% of the bananas that he fathers will be male.
This is because the banana ball python gene is tied to the sex chromosomes. If the male ball python’s banana gene is on his X chromosome, he’ll pass it on to his daughters. If it’s on his Y chromosome, he’ll pass it on to his sons. Females pass an X chromosome onto all of her babies, so the sex ratio is roughly even.
How Does The Ball Python Banana Gene Work?
The banana ball python gene has confused herpetologists for decades. This is because most types of snakes have ZW and ZZ sex chromosomes. Males are homogametic (ZZ), and females are heterogametic (ZW). The mother’s egg decides the sex of the baby, rather than the father’s sperm.
According to Evolution, scientists believed for over 50 years that this was the case for all snakes, including ball pythons. This meant that the banana ball python gene didn’t make sense. If all male ball pythons pass on a Z chromosome to their baby, then male banana ball pythons, not females, should pass the banana gene on to both sexes equally.
In a study published in Current Biology, the answer was finally discovered: ball pythons have XX and XY chromosomes. Females are XX, and males are XY. This explains why female bananas, and not males, bear 50% female and 50% male bananas.
But this poses the question: if females pass their gene on via the X chromosome, how can ‘male makers’ exist? How can ‘female makers’ sometimes produce a male banana ball python, which becomes a ‘male maker’?
According to Genetics, this is due to a phenomenon called chromosomal crossover. Rarely, a gene on the X chromosome will ‘cross over’ to the Y chromosome when the embryo is developing. The baby will still be a banana ball python, but he’ll carry his banana gene on his Y chromosome. Then, he can pass this gene onto his sons.
How To Breed a Banana Ball Python
To breed banana ball pythons, you’ll need at least one banana ball python to start off with. The other parent can be normal, or indeed any other morph. If you breed a banana ball python with a normal ball python, the resulting clutch will be 50% bananas and 50% normals.
But bear in mind that the sex of the banana parent will have an effect on the offspring. It will determine whether you get male bananas or female bananas, as shown below:
|Male Parent||Female Parent||Offspring|
|Normal||Banana||25% normal females|
25% normal males
25% banana females
25% banana males (female makers)
|Banana (male maker)||Normal||50% normal females|
50% banana males (male makers)
|Banana (female maker)||Normal||50% banana females|
50% normal males
To find out whether a male banana is a male maker or female maker, ask its breeder. If his mother was a banana, he’ll be a female maker. If his father was a banana, he’ll be a male maker.
If you choose to breed your banana ball python with a different morph, rather than a normal, the babies may carry different traits as well as banana. These are called designer bananas, or banana morphs. We’ll discuss these later.
When purchasing your breeding pair, ensure that they are both of breeding age and weight. Otherwise, they won’t produce healthy offspring. Male ball pythons should be at least 1 year old, and weigh at least 700 grams. Females should be at least 3 years old, and weigh 1200 grams or more.
How To Get Two Ball Pythons To Breed
To create the best chance of a successful clutch, you must first lower the temperature of your ball pythons’ enclosures. This will make the snakes think it’s winter. When they come out of brumation, they’ll think it’s springtime, which is the mating season:
- Induce brumation. Lower the temperature of both snakes’ vivariums to the mid-70s (Fahrenheit). Temperatures should remain low for 2-3 months. Your snakes will naturally be less active during this time.
- Slowly increase the temperature to normal levels over the course of a couple of weeks.
- Place the male ball python into the female’s enclosure. Supervise them closely, and separate them if any fighting occurs.
- Watch for signs of mating. You’ll notice the male wrapping his tail around the female’s – this is called ‘locking up’.
Leave the male and female together for a few days, to be sure that mating has occurred. You’ll start to notice the female looking swollen if she’s gravid. After one or two months, she’ll lay eggs.
The average ball python clutch size is 4-6, though some snakes lay up to 11. You can leave the eggs with their mother until they hatch, or remove them and place them into an incubator. They’ll hatch in around two months’ time.
Banana Ball Python Morphs
By breeding a banana ball python to a normal, you’ll get both normal and banana offspring. But if you breed a banana ball python with a different morph, interesting things can happen. You may produce unique-looking babies that have both the banana gene and other traits.
Ball pythons that have two or more gene mutations affecting their color or pattern are called ‘designer ball python morphs’. There are over two dozen unique gene mutations, which when bred together can create thousands of combinations.
It’s not possible to list every possible banana ball python morph combination. However, here are the most popular designer banana ball pythons. We’ll describe what each one looks like, and the genes that make it.
Super Banana Ball Python
Super banana ball pythons carry two copies of the banana gene, rather than just one. Hatchling super bananas look similar to bananas, but their differences become apparent with age.
As a super banana ball python grows, its pattern fades to an extremely pale yellow. The lavender background color fades to off-white. Super bananas never get any black spots or freckling, even as adults.
To make a super banana ball python, breed two banana ball pythons together. Each hatchling has a 25% chance of being a super banana. If the father was a male-maker, the super bananas will be male. But if the father was a female-maker, they’ll be female.
Banana Albino Ball Python
Banana albino ball pythons have no melanin (dark pigment). They still have bright yellow blotches, but their normally lavender background color is white. They also have bright red eyes.
A banana albino ball python carries one copy of the banana gene, and two copies of the albino gene. Albino is recessive, so if it only has one copy, it’ll look like a regular banana – but it will be ‘het for albino’.
To make a banana albino ball python, breed a banana ball python to an albino. 50% of the babies will be bananas, but het for albino. If you breed this snake with another albino, 25% of the babies will be banana albinos.
Banana Cinnamon Ball Python
The cinnamon gene brings a lot more red pigment to the snake’s coloring. A cinnamon ball python has a much richer reddish-brown background color, and slightly reduced markings.
When combined with the banana gene, it creates a truly stunning morph.
Banana cinnamon ball pythons have a lavender background color with beautiful bright orange blotches. They have a slightly reduced pattern, meaning more background and smaller markings.
The cinnamon gene is codominant. To make a banana cinnamon ball python, breed a banana ball python to a cinnamon. Each baby has a 25% chance to be a banana cinnamon.
Banana Pastel Ball Python
Pastel ball pythons look very like normal ball pythons, except lighter. The pastel gene brightens up the brown markings, making them a light camel color. The normally black background color fades to brown, with lots of light brown blushing.
Banana pastel ball pythons have almost no orange pigment. The lavender background is paler than normal. The normally yellow blotches are even lighter than on a banana ball python. Banana pastels can still get a small amount of black freckling.
Again, the pastel gene is codominant. Creating a banana pastel ball python is as simple as breeding a banana to a pastel. If you breed a banana pastel to another pastel, you may create a ‘super pastel banana’. This combination almost completely removes the yellow coloration.
Banana Pinstripe Ball Python
The pinstripe gene creates a beautiful caramel-colored snake with a wide stripe that runs along the spine. The dark brown-black markings are reduced to thin, irregular broken bands. The black markings look somewhat similar to those of a spider ball python, but without the neurological abnormalities.
Banana pinstripe ball pythons are a striking bright yellow color all over. They have a light yellow stripe down their spine, and the thin black markings are reduced to a pale lavender. These markings fade as the snake ages, until eventually it looks yellow all over.
The pinstripe gene is dominant, so only one copy is required for the mutation to be expressed. Breeding a pinstripe ball python to a banana ball python will create 25% banana pinstripes.
Banana Pied Ball Python
Piebald ball pythons, otherwise known as pieds, are one of the most popular and stunning morphs. The piebald gene is a pattern-altering gene. It removes chunks of the snake’s natural pattern, replacing them with large patches of pure white. Some pied ball pythons are almost completely white, with only small patches of normal pattern.
Banana pied ball pythons look like normal bananas, but with large white patches interrupting their yellow pattern. They can get black freckling with age, but only on their banana patches.
The piebald gene is recessive, so a snake needs two copies to express it. First, breed a banana ball python to a piebald. Approximately half the babies will be banana het pied. Breeding a banana het pied to another piebald will make a banana pied ball python.
Banana Enchi Ball Python
The enchi ball python gene reduces a normal ball python’s pattern. The dorsal blotches almost transform into wide bands with irregular edges. It also brings out lighter colors, making the snake look more yellow and reducing the black background to brown.
Banana enchi ball pythons will inherit the enchi pattern, but a curious thing happens to their coloring. The enchi gene almost turns up the snake’s brightness and contrast. It brings out more of the orange tones, making the snake look almost luminescent. Banana enchis don’t get any black spots as adults.
The enchi gene is dominant. So to get a banana enchi ball python, breed an enchi ball python to a banana. Each baby has a 25% chance of being a banana enchi.