The best ball python morphs depend on what colors and markings you find attractive. Today’s ball python market has so many colorful and fascinating new morphs. There are hundreds of different kinds of royal pythons if you count the unique and varied specimens breeders are creating.
Blue-eyed Lucy (BEL) and coral glows are among the most beautiful ball python morphs. Avoid snakes with genetic issues like head wobbles and kinks, such as caramels and spiders. The International Herpetological Society (IHS) has banned royal pythons that have the spider gene from being sold at their events.
In this guide, we’ve taken a detailed look at top-selling ball python morphs, provided detailed descriptions, and included an indicative price guide. We’ll also cover how to tell ball python morphs apart, and why some morphs have genetic defects that have a serious impact on your snake’s health.
Best Ball Python Morphs List
|Albino ball python:||Albino ball pythons were the first ever morph bred in captivity. They’re a light pink or cream color with yellow patches, and pink or red eyes.||$300||Common|
|Axanthic ball python:||Axanthic ball pythons lack the gene that produces yellow pigmentation. As such, they don’t have any light yellow, cream or brown to their scales. They look monochrome with shades of gray.||$375||Common|
|Anerythristic ball python:||Anerythristic ball pythons, or ‘anery’ snakes lack red pigmentation. Again they look monochrome but can have flashes of yellow.||$100||Common|
|Pied ball python:||Pied ball pythons are white with sections of normal pattern and color. These sections may be very small, or cover most of their body.||$300||Common|
|Pastel ball python:||Pastel ball pythons have enhanced yellow coloration. They’re easy to breed as the first generation often have clear colors. Probably the top-selling ball python morph.||$100||Very common|
|Blue-eyed Lucy (BEL):||BELs are pure white, much like some people imagine albinos. They have shiny blue eyes.||$500||Rare|
|Scaleless ball python:||These snakes have no scales. They can be any color when they’re bred with other morphs.||$3000||Very rare|
|Banana ball python:||Bananas have one of the most interesting color schemes of any ball python. They are an orange-yellow color with a bright pink pattern.||$350||Very common|
|Candino ball python:||Candinos look like banana ball pythons. They’re a cross between candy and albino morphs, so they have pink/red eyes too.||$400||Rare|
|Chocolate ball python:||Chocolate ball pythons are a dark, rich brown. Their pattern is smoother than other morphs.||$100||Common|
|Cinnamon ball python:||Cinnamons are darker brown than the average ball python, especially in the lighter areas of their pattern.||$70||Common|
|Butter ball python:||Butter ball pythons look very similar to lesser ball pythons. They get brighter as they age.||$90||Common|
|Coral glow ball python:||Coral glow and banana are the same gene, but come from a different bloodline. So, coral glows are orange and purple like bananas are. They may also have black spots.||$350||Very common|
|Fire ball python:||Their dark pattern is a dark rich brown. However, the area of their light pattern is larger than usual. It’s also a smoother, cleaner and lighter color than usual.||$400||Rare|
|Ghost ball python:||Ghost is a morph with less black pigmentation. Ghost ball pythons have a hazy aspect to their color, almost like you’re viewing them through a filter.||$90||Common|
|Ivory ball python:||These snakes are almost like BELs without the blue eyes. However, their white is a more colorful off-white. They also have a slight yellow stripe running along their back.||$300||Rare|
|Mojave ball python:||Mojaves are dark brown and yellow. Their underbelly is completely white. Both mojaves and lessers can be bred to make BELs.||$70||Very common|
|GHI ball python:||GHI, meaning ‘gotta have it,’ reflects how beautiful these snakes are. They have a smooth, glossy black pattern with caramel highlights.||$5000||Very rare|
|Lesser ball python:||Lesser ball pythons have a light brown instead of a dark brown pattern. They’re often bred with other morphs to give them better color and pattern.||$90||Very common|
|Mystic ball python:||Mystic ball pythons look like Mojaves. Their colors are dark, and their pattern is smooth.||$150||Very common|
|Phantom ball python:||Phantom ball pythons are similar to Mojaves. Their dark pattern blushes from dark brown to tan. Their light pattern is an orange-yellow color.||$150||Rare|
|Pinstripe ball python:||Pinstripes are a caramel color. But more importantly, it’s their pattern that makes them distinctive. Their pattern is greatly reduced to just stripes.||$100||Common|
|Super blast ball python:||Super blast ball pythons are pinstripes crossed with pastels. Their color is light orange, and their dark pattern is faded and thin.||$250||Common|
|Spotnose ball python:||Spotnoses are a few shades lighter than a normal ball python, with some bright yellows. They have small white spots on their upper lip, which gives them their name.||$150||Common|
|Vanilla ball python:||Vanillas are almost identical to normal ball pythons. However, they display two key differences. Their colors are brighter and clearer, while their head colors are faded. Aside from that, they’re indistinguishable from regular ball pythons.||$200||Common|
|Yellow belly ball python:||The yellow belly has rich colors, with more yellow showing through. They also have a small light marking on their head as well as distinct yellow-red flames coming up the side of their belly. And, of course, their belly is a clear yellow-white.||$150||Common|
These are only the best known and most easy to find morphs. Many breeders create unique snakes unavailable anywhere else. There are hundreds of morphs if you include those.
Some snake owners cut open ball python eggs to see the morph early, and to maximize the number of eggs that hatch. It does, however, require experience.
Cheap Ball Python Morphs
The least expensive ball python morphs are those that have been around a long time. Albinos are much cheaper than they used to be, for example.
Snakes, such as pastels, are cheap for several reasons. The market is saturated, so much so that you see them in regular pet shops. This drives down the price from a high starting point.
Besides that, people want to buy uniquely beautiful morphs. While pastels look good, people have become used to them. This means that they’re less in demand, making them cheaper.
How Are Ball Python Morphs Created?
There are two ways for a breeder to create ball python color morphs. The first is to import new snakes from their natural habitat. Occasionally, a new morph will be discovered and imported. These are known as base morphs.
This is beyond the reach of a regular owner or breeder. These snakes cost tens of thousands of dollars. People are willing to pay that because they believe they can breed the snake for money.
When the snake arrives, they will then attempt to breed it. This will prove that the color or pattern is genetic and inheritable. If confirmed, they will then sell the offspring to other breeders.
The other way to make a morph is to breed existing morphs together. So, for example, you could breed a lesser with a lesser, or pastel with a Mojave. This is something that a regular breeder, with just a couple thousand dollars can do.
Unfortunately, almost all of these secondary morphs have been discovered. However, it’s still a fun experiment. If you want to breed new kinds of ball python, start with a regular snake like a pastel and breed it to a newly discovered morph.
How to Identify Ball Python Morphs
Some morphs are easily recognizable. Take the albino ball python, for example. Its characteristics are easy to spot: cream and yellow pattern, and pink or red eyes.
But it’s not always that easy to spot a particular morph. Even seasoned breeders can get it wrong. Here’s how you can identify most morphs:
- Ask the person you bought it from about the snake’s history. What two snakes was it bred from? What morph do they think it is?
- Make a list of its characteristics, and compare it to known morphs. Use our list above to see if your snake matches any.
- Ask knowledgeable people online. There are online forums that both owners and breeders use to discuss snakes. They may be able to help you.
It’s impossible to judge a snake’s genetics solely on the way they look. Recessive genes are genes that an animal has, but that doesn’t have a biological effect. Instead, the animal carries the genes and passes them on.
When two snakes with the same recessive gene mate, the genes are ‘activated’ in the offspring. Albinism is a recessive trait. You can have a snake that looks normal but which carries the albino gene.
The only way to identify these recessive genes is through breeding. Say you have two snakes, one that has a recessive albino gene, and one you aren’t sure about. If you breed them together, some of the offspring will be albino.
Best Ball Python Morph to Breed
No one morph ’s the ‘best’ to breed. It depends on your taste, and your budget. Select a morph based on whether you like the way they look, and whether the snake is healthy.
A good start would be to pick a male that has two, maybe even three morph genes. You could then breed the male with one or two co-dom females. This would be a fairly basic setup that you could start for $800-$1000. Good starter morphs include:
- Pastel ball pythons. Pastels can be bred to most other morphs to brighten their color or pattern. They’re also some of the cheapest available.
- Mojave ball pythons. These can be bred to pastels to produce a range of morphs including pastaves, more Mojaves, more pastels, and BELs.
- Fire ball pythons. These create great combos when bred with other morphs.
However, don’t start breeding snakes just because you think it’s easy money. Owning snakes is cheaper than other pets, but snake ownership costs money. Plus, the market for most morphs gets flooded in just a few years.
The people who make real money from breeding snakes are those who can afford to import them. These cost tens of thousands of dollars. But the breeder can sell each offspring for just as much. If you want to make money breeding snakes, importing them is high risk but high reward.
Alternatively, consider breeding entry-level snakes first. Once you sell these snakes, and you can afford more interesting morphs, buy snakes like:
As you earn money from breeding and selling, you can expand your collection.
Ball Python Morphs to Avoid
Not all morphs are created equal. Some are striking and beautiful while others look dull. But more importantly, the genetic variations in some morphs causes them to become unhealthy. There are various reasons to avoid snakes like these, such as:
- The snake may have a low quality of life if they find it difficult to move, eat and shed.
- If you plan on breeding the snake, the offspring will be unhealthy and less valuable.
- The snake may become sick and die, which will be sad if you get attached to your pets.
These genetic issues occur because morphs are genetic changes. While breeders are only interested in the color and pattern of a snake, sometimes genes do two things. So, a gene that makes a snake turn pure white may also affect the eyes (as happens with BELs).
While breeders care about the health of their snakes, some accept compromises. So while a spider ball python looks impressive, it also has genetic neurological issues.
So which ball python morphs should you avoid owning? Here’s a list of the main morphs, and why they don’t make good pets.
|Spider ball python:||Spiders are light brown, black and white. It has a thin and narrow dark pattern, almost like a pinstripe. Spiders are very popular for both owners and breeders.||Head wobble|
|Bumblebee / killerbee ball python:||A snake with enhanced yellow pigment. The best specimens have a black and yellow pattern, like a bumblebee. Derived from the spider.||Head wobble|
|Champagne ball python:||Champagne ball pythons are a tan and/or orange color. They have irregular striping and a white belly. Derived from the spider.||Head wobble|
|Spider x sable ball python:||When you breed a spider and a sable, it makes the head wobble much worse.||Very bad head wobble|
|Caramel ball python:||As the name suggests, caramels are a light brown and reddish color.||Caramels are generally fine, but have a high chance of kinking.|
|Super spotnose ball python:||Looks similar to a spotnose.||Severe neurological issues.|
|Desert ball pythons:||Deserts have a sandy yellow background pattern. Their dark pattern is between brown and black.||Fertility problems|
|Super black pastel ball python:||The super black pastel is a deep black color.||Duckbill|
|Super cinnamon ball python:||Similar to the super black pastel. Their color ranges from a rich brown to a gray-black.||Duckbill|
If you specifically want a healthy ball python morph, then you should avoid these snakes.
Ball Python Morph Problems
Given that breeding ball pythons have become so popular, it’s no surprise it can go wrong. There are genetic issues that certain morphs can have.
So, what problems are these? And which morphs can have them?
One of the most severe genetic conditions some morphs have is the head wobble. This is where the snake has trouble balancing. Symptoms of head wobble include:
- The snake’s head will wobble from side to side.
- The snake finds it difficult to strike. When they try, their head flails in the wrong direction.
- The snake finds it difficult to tell up from down. You might find them lying upside down, not knowing how to flip themselves.
The head wobble is a neurological disorder. Many breeders refuse to breed snakes that would have this condition. It affects many different morphs, including:
- Spider ball pythons
- Woma and Hidden Gene Woma
- Super Sable (especially bad)
The first of these to have a recognizable condition was the spider ball python. Any other morph that was created from a spider has the head wobble too. It ranges in severity. There doesn’t seem to be a link between the parent’s wobble severity and that of the offspring.
However, it is proven to be a genetic issue. It’s related to the spider gene. You can tell because the typical offspring of a spider won’t have the wobble, while those that express the spider gene will.
The issue also doesn’t seem to be related to inbreeding. It’s not possible to breed spiders with low wobbles. A spider with a low wobble can produce high wobble or low wobble offspring. It’s purely an issue with the gene in question.
What does predict how bad a wobble will be, is stress. The more stressed the snake, the more the wobble shows itself. This means that during handling and feeding, the wobble gets worse.
Kinking is another serious genetic issue. It’s a permanent condition where the snake’s body isn’t properly formed. Their back has a kink in it, a sharp bend to one side.
Again, the severity of kinking varies. A snake may have just one kink in their back, and not at a sharp angle. Or, they may have several at severe angles.
The more kinks the snake has, the more difficult it will be for them to move. Their organs may also be squeezed up against one another. That’s why kinking can be lethal in severe cases.
Kinking can affect any morph, but it does affect some more than others. Disproportionately affected morphs include:
- Caramel albino
- Super cinnamon
If kinking is extreme, then the snake won’t hatch successfully. If they do hatch successfully, then there’s a chance they will die very soon after.
Snakes that hatch and survive are likely fine, and can breed, but will be less valuable.
This is a mutation named because the snake’s skull changes shape. The mutation causes loss of bone in certain areas of the skull, which make it more difficult for the snake to breathe or eat.
It’s noticeable as a dip between the skull and the nose. The overall effect is to make the nose appear smaller. Since this is where the vomeronasal organ is located, it’s unclear whether this makes it difficult for them to smell.
It may also stop them from being able to breathe as normal. When a snake’s mouth is closed, they push their glottis (the tip of their windpipe) against their nostrils. This allows them to breathe easily. The lack of bone here may make it difficult for them.
Again, a specific subsection of owners thinks that this mutation is cute. However, some people think it should not be bred. The morphs that this issue is known to affect are the super black pastel and the super cinnamon.
Certain morphs have trouble producing offspring. These include:
- Caramels, and morphs derived from caramels
Deserts have poor fertility in several ways. They frequently become egg bound when trying to lay. And of the eggs they do lay, most will not be fertile, and won’t successfully hatch. This may be because deserts have thermoregulatory issues.
Caramels have several issues, kinking being the best known. However, they also are subfertile. This means that females struggle to produce enough eggs (far fewer than a normal clutch).
Not only that, but of the eggs they produce, most are slugs. Slugs are duds, unfertilized eggs. They are usually shorter than a fertile egg, and look different too:
- Slugs are a darker color, with shades of yellow or brown
- Regular eggs feel like a leather bag filled with water. Slugs are tougher.
You can also candle slugs. Candling is where you look through the egg using a candle (or better, a flashlight). Slugs have a yellow glow, while healthy eggs have a pink glow.
This is less of an issue if you’re concerned about the welfare of the snake. Deserts and caramels are healthy snakes, kinking aside.
As is evident, ball python morphs can have slightly different eyes. This usually is to do with the color, e.g., BELs or albinos. However, it is possible for the eyes to be a different shape.
Some ball pythons, for example, can be born with:
- Large, rounded eyes that stick out more than usual. These are known as ‘bug eyes.’
- Smaller eyes than usual.
- No eyes at all.
Some breeders and owners think that bug eyes, in particular, are ‘cute.’ While they may think so, it’s unclear what health complications they cause. Or, whether they cause decreased quality of life.
What is clear is that snakes born with tiny eyes or no eyes have decreased quality of life. These snakes find it challenging to move around comfortably. Breeding them is a bad idea.
Ball Python Morphs That Won’t Survive
Other morphs are lethal. That’s not to say that they can kill you. Instead, it means that when you try to create them, the offspring always die.
The exact reason why a particular morph is lethal is often unclear. However, through extensive testing breeders have discovered that breeding certain morphs to other particular morphs results in unhatchable offspring.
To be clear, this is separate from other hatching issues. This has nothing to do with poor temperature control. This problem is purely genetic. Deadly morph combinations include:
- Champagne and spider
- Champagne and Woma
- Super champagne, i.e., champagne and champagne
- Super spider
- Woma and Woma
If you try and breed these combinations, most or all of your eggs won’t hatch. There’s something about the genetic changes in these morphs that means they can’t function biologically. That doesn’t stop breeders trying, however.
Which morph you pick depends on your taste. We would advise avoiding any morph that has genetic issues. That’s because they’re a pain for breeders, and any caring owner wouldn’t like to see their pet struggle.