Keeping ball pythons as a pet increased in popularity from the turn of the century onwards. Prices seemed to keep going up with no end in sight. The crazy days of the highest prices for ball pythons are gone because there are fewer new and exciting morphs being introduced to the market.
The rarest ball python morph today is the sunset ball python, an orange morph that regularly fetches $20,000. There was a story in Forbes about a lavender albino female that sold for $40,000. In the past, there were breeders who claimed to receive offers in the region of $125,000.
The rarer the morph, the higher the price tag. The most expensive snake morphs are usually imported from Africa, where they were discovered as the first of their kind. They’re then bought by breeders who hope to make their money back by breeding ball pythons for profit.
Snake Morphs Explained
Morphs are biologically the same as regular royal pythons. The only difference is that each one has a different color or pattern that’s unique.
The first morphs ever bred were simple albinos that were captured from the wild and bred together in captivity.
Today, albinos are still a favorite ball python morph. But albinos are just one variety. There are quite literally thousands of different types that can be bred.
Some are simple and occur in the wild. Others are more complex. They are the result of breeding one unique morph with another, and have only ever been bred in captivity. Usually, the rarity determines the price.
How Much Does a Rare Ball Python Morph Cost?
An albino doesn’t cost much more than a regular ball python. While a regular ball python might cost $30, you could buy an albino from the same store for $250.
Others can cost thousands of dollars, even upwards of $10,000. Specialist breeders who have been breeding ball pythons for decades have access to exclusive family lines of snakes, which are exceptionally colorful, or have beautiful patterns that you can’t find elsewhere.
Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Pythons (Blue Eyed Lucy)
The Blue-Eyed Lucy is pure white. That’s not like albinos are ‘white’—we mean genuinely white. Depending on how clean their genetics are, blue-eyed lucies can range from pure snow white to very light ivory.
Some also have a very light dorsal stripe, i.e., a stripe running along their back. But it’s not the fact that they’re pure white that makes them so appealing. In addition to being a pure white, blue-eyed leucistic pythons are unique because their eyes are an icy blue color.
You can breed a blue-eyed leucistic ball python in many ways. Most of them involve the lesser platinum ball python morph, bred with either the Mojave, butter, Russo het leucistic or phantom.
Most combinations of the above snakes can result in a BEL, with a 25% chance of each egg being a blue-eyed leucistic.
BELs used to be the most expensive ball python morph by far, and could fetch $20,000 or more a few decades ago. But in recent years, since the beauty of this snake has become more well-known, more breeders have managed to breed them.
That’s resulted in the price going down quite a lot. Today, the price has dipped under $1,000 because the market became saturated.
Sunset Ball Python
The sunset ball python was first bred successfully a few years ago by Brian Barczyk of BHB Reptiles. It was the result of a long-running project to breed it, which took years since the animal’s unique genetic morph is recessive.
Either way, the sunset ball python is a shade of burnt orange that’s unique among ball python morphs. Its colors fade first into a yellow and then into a creamy white on its underside.
This isn’t the most unique pattern and color ever, because it looks quite a lot like a standard ball python, just more orange. However, the world of ball python breeding hasn’t changed much in the last decade and so to breed a completely new morph would practically guarantee high prices.
The first sunset ball pythons went for tens of thousands of dollars. But because we’re still within the first few generations, they’re still scarce.
They still command prices of $15,000 to $20,000 in stores like MorphMarket. You’d be hard-pressed to find another general morph like this that commands such a high price.
Pinstripe Ball Python
Pinstripe ball pythons were first bred back in the early ‘00s, again by BHB Reptiles. They vary between a light and dark background color, but it’s not their color that gives them their name. Their pattern is much thinner than that of other ball pythons.
Because this morph was to do with its pattern, this gave them great breeding potential. They can be bred to all sorts of other different morphs to combine a pinstripe’s pattern with another morph’s color.
The albino pinstripe is a good example, being the color of an albino but with a much thinner pattern along their backs.
When they were first introduced, pinstripes could only be bought for tens of thousands of dollars. Today, you can find them for under $100.
Scaleless Ball Python
Scaleless ball pythons are the most amazing morph you’ll see. They’re entirely smooth-skinned, but they still have the regular pattern a ball python has.
Because they don’t have scales, the pattern and color look so perfect that you’d be forgiven for thinking they were painted on.
How do you breed a scaleless ball python? By breeding two ball pythons with scaleless heads together. That’s why they’re also known as ‘super scaleless head’ ball pythons. Despite how simple their genetic history is, they’re still tricky to breed, and the very first only hatched in 2012/3.
According to Brian Barczyk’s video unveiling the scaleless ball python for the first time, he says that he was offered $125,000 for just one of the first batch that was successfully bred. Today, they don’t cost anywhere near that much, but are still expensive for a ball python.
You can pick one up for between $5000 and $10,000 today. That means they’re currently one of the most expensive kinds of ball python.
Monsoon Ball Python
Monsoon ball pythons were first bred by Dave Green Reptiles, a small breeder located in Phoenix, Arizona.
Unlike many of the other most expensive ball pythons, they weren’t bred from an imported specimen. They were the unexpected result of a pastel special and super Mojave breeding.
They’re a sandy or mustard yellow background color. But it’s their pattern that makes them stand out, and which gives them their name.
They have a mottled pattern that looks almost like raindrops hitting a window. The dark brown pattern contrasts beautifully with their background color. It’s not just that the color is a nice contrast, but that the pattern itself is very distinct and not muddy at all.
Because a relatively small breeder bred them, and because they were only first successfully bred in 2015, they’re still incredibly rare. As such, they still fetch thousands on MorphMarket.
At the time of writing, most that are available have been bred with other morphs, e.g., Mojave spider monsoons. These are available for about $5000. But a regular female monsoon can command a price of $15,000 or more.
What’s the Most Expensive Ball Python Morph?
According to Forbes, the most expensive ball python ever sold was a lavender albino female. It was sold for $40,000.
However, there are myths and legends in the ball python community. Decades in the past, ball pythons used to be a very niche hobby, and breeders were few and far between. As such, prices were higher for unique snakes, and often weren’t publicized.
Commenters on ball python forums talk about figures they remember hearing, either first or second-hand: $100,000, $200,000 or more. But there’s no proof—just hearsay.
Aside from that, the first-ever sunset ball python bought by Brian Barczyk supposedly cost $70,000. There are many stories like this, where a private breeder pays through the nose for a unique specimen.
The problem is that this kind of thing isn’t widely publicized, often because the breeder wants to keep their potential new morph a secret.
Why are Some Ball Pythons So Expensive?
The obvious reason why many ball pythons are expensive is the rarity. Of the most expensive ball pythons ever bought, many are bought, wild-caught, straight from Africa.
These snakes will have something unique about them. So, for example, the original platinum ball python was first shipped over from Africa by Ralph Davis Reptiles in 1999, the supposed asking price being $75,000. But why would just one snake be so expensive?
Breeders think they can make that money back. The offspring of unique snakes like these could each sell for $10,000, for example. Not only that, but the new snake can be bred to other morphs to create totally unique variations that no other breeder in the world can produce.
That means that, as a breeder, you can name your price. Of course, it’s a risky plan because if that $75,000 snake dies in transit—like the first-ever platinum almost did—then you could find yourself heavily out of pocket.
And, sometimes, things do go wrong. Brian Barczyk of BHB Reptiles has been breeding snakes since long before the first successfully raised sunset hatchlings. His previous project he’d called the viper ball, but this was an expensive flop.
He paid $60,000 for a snake he thought would be a brand new morph, but whose unique features proved not to be genetic. Fortunately, he made his money back through the sunset project.
Today, the market for truly unique morphs has slowed down from its peak. But even so, there would definitely be breeders who would pay $100,000 or more to import a new and exciting morph from West Africa.