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 rarer the morph, the higher the price tag. The most expensive snake morphs are usually imported from Africa, where they’re discovered as the first of their kind. They’re then bought by a breeder who hopes to make their money back by breeding ball pythons for profit.
- 1 Snake Morphs Explained
- 2 How Much Does a Rare Ball Python Morph Cost?
- 3 What’s the Most Expensive Ball Python Morph?
Snake Morphs Explained
Ball python morphs are biologically the same as regular ball pythons. The only difference is that each morph 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 kind of morph. There are quite literally thousands of different types that can be bred.
Some are simple, and occur in the wild. Others are more complicated, the result of breeding one unique morph with another unique morph, and have only ever been bred in captivity. Usually, the rarer the ball python morph, the more expensive it is to buy from a breeder.
How Much Does a Rare Ball Python Morph Cost?
An albino ball python doesn’t cost much more than a regular ball python. That’s because they’re so common these days that there’s no need to pay top dollar for one.
While a regular ball python might cost $30, you could buy an albino from the same store for $250. Now, that is a lot more money, but it’s not much more in the context of other snake morphs.
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. In many cases, these ball pythons are entirely one-of-a-kind. That’s why they can fetch such a high price.
And in between, there are dozens of common morphs like anerythristic ball pythons, axanthic ball pythons, bumblebee ball pythons and many more. These snakes typically cost between $150 and $500, depending on the beauty of their pattern and color.
Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Pythons (Blue Eyed Lucy)
To get us started, let’s take a look at the old Blue-Eyed Lucy. These snakes are 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 an incredibly 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 different 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 incredible beauty of this particular 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 is entirely different from the Blue-Eyed Lucy. It was only first bred successfully a few years ago by Brian Barczyk, owner of BHB Reptiles. It was the result of a long-running project to breed it, which took years upon 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 on 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, much thinner than that of other ball pythons.
Because this morph was to do with their 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, like the other snakes in this list, pinstripes could only be bought for tens of thousands of dollars. Today you can find them for under $100 in some cases!
Scaleless Ball Python
If you’ve never heard of them, scaleless ball pythons are probably the craziest morph you’ll see. They look amazing. 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. That means they’re currently one of the most expensive kinds of ball python that money can buy.
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 result unexpected result of a pastel special and super Mojave breeding.
Regarding color, 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 to 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?
So, what’s the most expensive ball python morph? This question is a difficult one to answer. 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 bandy 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?
The reason is that 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 incredibly 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 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 has slowed down from its peak. But even so, there are breeders who will happily pay $100,000 or more to import a new potential morph from West Africa.