Pastel ball pythons are beautiful snakes. But they’re also the basis of many designer morphs, where other morphs are bred with pastels to produce new and exciting kinds of ball pythons.
The most popular is the regular pastel. Other popular morphs include the lemon blast, bumblebee, and axanthic. These snakes can cost anywhere from $50 to several thousand dollars, depending on the rarity of the morph and appearance of the snake.
Don’t just pick a pet snake because of how they look. You should pay attention to whether the snake is healthy, and you’ll be able to provide them with a good home. And while all of these color morphs are cool or interesting, some have neurological issues as a result of their genetics.
Pastel Ball Python Morphs
Also known as the ‘pastel jungle,’ the pastel ball python is one of the most popular morphs. They were originally imported and bred by Kevin McCurley at NERD/New England Reptile Distributors.
They were one of the first morphs to enter the market. NERD has since been responsible for breeding at least a hundred more morphs, including more than a dozen pastel designer morphs. But, what do they look like, and what makes them so popular?
|Pastel Ball Python:||$50||The basic pastel ball python is more yellow than usual. Today, there are several different lines, each slightly different.|
|Super Pastel Ball Python:||$100||The super pastel has two sets of the pastel morph gene. This means that they’re even more yellow.|
|Lemon Blast Ball Python:||$125||Lemon blast ball pythons are pastels that were bred to a pinstripe. They have the pastel’s yellow color and the pinstripe’s thin pattern.|
|Bumblebee Ball Python:||$100||Bumblebees are the offspring of a pastel and a spider. They have the spider’s blotchy pattern and a yellow-white or yellow-brown background.|
|Axanthic Ball Python:||$300||These snakes are silvery-gray and black.|
|Mandarin Pastel Ball Python:||$500||Mandarin pastel ball pythons have an orange blush in their black pattern. In all other ways, they’re a normal pastel.|
|Enchi Pastel Yellow Belly:||$750||These snakes are the result of three different morph genes. They look like a cleaned up mandarin pastel.|
|Lemon Pastel Yellow Belly:||$120||These are like a regular pastel, but with a yellow belly too.|
|Lemon Pastel Pied:||$1200-1300||These snakes are like a dusky colored pastel, but pied, i.e., they have large pure white sections.|
|Pastel Super Cinnamon:||$500||Pastel super cinnamons are like super cinnamons, but a little lighter. They’re a mid brown or mid-gray/silver color, all along their bodies.|
How to Identify a Pastel Ball Python
Pastel ball pythons are easy to recognize. They’re a variable yellow color with a clean, high-contrast black pattern. Their yellow often fades into green, which is why it’s so variable—sometimes the green is more obvious, sometimes it’s not.
Their underside is a clean white color, and they often have white lips too. At birth, their heads have a faded look to them. But in most specimens, as they get older, this tends to darken.
The pastel ball python gene brings out the yellow to varying degrees, so if you breed a pastel with a pastel to make a ‘super pastel,’ they’ll be even more yellow.
For the same reason, the pastel ball python is often bred with other morphs to make them more yellow. They’re the parent of many designer morphs.
1) Pastel Ball Python
They’re more yellow than your average ball python, but that’s about it. They aren’t a designer morph, i.e., one that’s bred from two parents of different morphs. They’re a naturally-occurring morph. They were imported to the U.S. in 1997 by NERD/Kevin McCurley.
At the same time, they were imported by Graziani Reptiles—these two lines still exist today, and are slightly different. There’s a little disagreement over who brought them over first, and who bred the first captive ones. Graziani line pastels don’t brown out as they age like NERD line (‘lemons’) do.
But at the same time, they don’t have a clear definition, and have more blushing. Which is better? It’s up to you. Both lines were found in the wild in Africa, where they were quite a bit more yellow than other ball pythons, which is why they were imported.
Once they were imported to the U.S., they were quickly bred together to see what they would produce—super pastels.
In the years that followed, the first few designer pastel ball python morphs were bred, including:
- Super lemon pastel (first bred in 1999)
- Lemon pastel pearl (2000)
- Pastel spider (2001)
- HGW lemon pastel (2003)
- Axanthic pastel (2004)
- Mandarin pastel (2006)
Many more snakes were to follow, especially once these new morphs were bred together—so, for example, the granite HGW super lemon pastel was first bred in 2010. After the first ones were imported back in the nineties, many more were found and brought over for the sake of genetic diversity. But you can still buy pythons directly descended from both lines today.
2) Super Pastel Ball Python
The super pastel or super lemon pastel ball python is the homozygous form of the morph. Without going into too much detail about genetics, that means that they have two copies of the same gene—so the effect is even stronger. Where regular pastels are yellow, super pastels are extra-yellow.
These are the best pastels for breeding, because they’re guaranteed to pass on the morph to their offspring. Breeding a normal ball python to a pastel would produce 25% pastels; breeding a super pastel to a normal would produce 50%, and breeding two super pastels together would produce 100% pastel offspring.
3) Lemon Blast Ball Python
These are the offspring of a pastel and a pinstripe. Pinstripe is another basic morph, a light to dark brown with very thin, dark stripes. The dark stripes have a very thin, hardly noticeable white border, and the overall color fades to a light underbelly.
A lemon blast ball python shares the pinstripe’s thin, dark markings. But where the pinstripe’s color is a light or dark brown, the lemon blast is even lighter. While they are a little variable, they’re normally either a very light brown or yellow. They also have dark but faded heads.
Lemon blast ball pythons are a different snake to a ‘lemon pastel.’ Lemon pastels are snakes that come from the original imported line. They have a few distinctive features:
- They’re particularly yellow
- A noticeable neck stripe
These snakes are just pastels; they’re not a designer morph like the lemon blast.
4) Bumblebee Ball Python
Bumblebee ball pythons are the offspring of a pastel and a spider ball python morph. Spiders are a little like pinstripes, in that their patterns are thinner. They’re also quite blotchy, in that the pattern isn’t straight, but very variable and broken. That being said, it’s solid black. These snakes are your typical ball python’s color.
Bumblebees, or pastel spider ball pythons as they’re also known, keep the spider’s pattern but get the pastel’s color. They range from a light yellow with mottled light brown, all the way to bright yellow, with a lot of white too.
Their undersides are white, and in some cases, those white scales come almost halfway up their body. They mix with the yellow to create a lovely light pattern that’s in high contrast to their dark black stripes.
The only problem with spiders, and therefore bumblebees too, is that they have neurological problems. These are caused by the genetic changes in the spider morph, which affect them in more ways than just their appearance.
They cause head wobble, poor balance, trouble feeding and trouble recognizing threats. It’s, therefore, a point of debate in the community as to whether we should actually breed them or not.
5) Axanthic Pastel
The axanthic pastel ball python is, unsurprisingly, the offspring of a pastel and an axanthic ball python. While pastel ball pythons have genes that make their yellow coloration more obvious, axanthic snakes are actually the opposite.
‘Axanthic’ comes from the Greek for ‘without yellow,’ meaning that they’ve lost all of their yellow pigmentation. So, what on earth does an axanthic pastel snake look like? Do the genes cancel each other out?
Axanthic pastels, like axanthic snakes, do lack their yellow pigment. But instead of being shades of gray, brown or black like the axanthic, the axanthic pastel is actually silver and black! Aside from that, their pattern becomes blockier and much more distinct, just like you see in a pure axanthic snake.
6) Mandarin Pastel
Mandarin pastel ball pythons were originally bred from lemon pastels and an individual snake that showed some unique markings. Unsure of what they were going to get, the team at NERD bred them together, and out came the mandarin pastel.
Bear in mind that we said lemon pastel, not lemon blast—lemon pastels are the original imported pastels, the NERD line, and are not lemon blasts.
Either way, mandarin pastels are the normal yellow pastel color, with dark brown or black pattern. However, large blotches of pattern are black on the outside, with a mandarin orange-red in the middle. Because it’s unclear what exact mutation the unique individual snake had, you can’t breed these yourself.
7) Enchi Pastel Yellow Belly
These are snakes that have enchi, pastel, and yellow belly genes. Each of these genes is co-dominant, so can be expressed at the same time. The snake itself is a banana yellow color with a thick, black banded pattern. Just like the mandarin pastel, the inside of their black pattern blushes first to an orange, and then to a yellow the further down the body you get.
They’re a lot like a cleaned-up mandarin. The only difference is that their color and pattern are a little cleaner. That, plus the fact that we know how to breed them.
8) Lemon Pastel Yellow Belly
Lemon pastel yellow bellies are like enchi pastels, but without the enchi. You also have to make sure that you use the lemon pastel line, directly from the original ones imported by NERD.
They share the same yellow coloration as always, but the most noticeable thing about them is their thick, dark pattern.
Their bands have been broken down, not so that they’re fuzzy, but so that they’re loose and go in different directions. Probably the best way to describe it is that it’s a little like camouflage, although yellow and black isn’t the best color combination for staying unnoticed.
Their dark pattern is black, fading to dull orange on the sides. The pattern itself is thick and chunky, and surrounded by large spots at random points.
From the yellow belly morph, they inherit a clean, yellowish belly with a speckled pattern where it meets the sides. This morph is also known for its blushing, which is why it has the dull orange to its dark pattern.
9) Lemon Pastel Pied
The lemon pastel pied is a regular lemon pastel, but with the recessive piebald gene. The piebald gene gives the snake patches of regular color and pattern, surrounded by white.
The exact size of the patches is highly variable, and depends on the snake. So, for example, one snake might only have a colorful head and neck while the rest of them is white.
Others have a colorful head, a big white patch, and then an island of color halfway down their body. And the white sections are pure white, rather than pinkish white or cream white. Also available is the leopard pastel pied, which comes from the Graziani line instead of the lemon/NERD line.
10) Pastel Super Cinnamon
Super cinnamons are a solid color snake, that range from a dark cocoa to a gray color. They have a clean, light underbelly. They’re bred from two cinnamons, which are a dark colored ball python with a normal pattern.
A pastel super cinnamon is plain just like a super cinnamon, but its color is substantially lighter. It’s a very smooth-looking mid brown or mid gray color, with just the occasional fleck.
They also have a very subtle lighter line running along their back, and a short stripe running backward from both eyes.
Do Pastel Ball Pythons Lose Their Color?
Most pastel ball pythons lose their color as they grow older. They tend to “brown out,” which means that they get more and browner as they get older. Their color turns dull, and their pattern fades.
This occurs to varying degrees in almost every pastel ball python. However, because of genetic interactions we don’t understand fully, some specimens don’t brown out, or hardly do at all.
And besides these snakes, many designer morphs bred from pastels don’t lose their color, either. Lemon blasts, for example, tend to stay bright well into their old age.
Pastel Ball Python Breeding Guide
The pastel ball python may be the most common one bred in the trade. Why? Because there are so many designer morphs created with pastel ball pythons and other morphs!
The pastel ball python gene is co-dominant. First of all, this means that you only need one pastel parent to pass the gene on. This makes breeding a lot easier.
If you were to breed a pastel to a normal ball python, you would get 50% pastels, and 50% normal. Breeding two pastel ball pythons together would produce 25% super pastels, 50% pastels, and 25% normal if you’re looking to create designer morphs. It’s, therefore, best to use a super pastel.
How to Breed Pastel Ball Pythons
Regarding breeding the snakes together, you’re going to need to start with a healthy breeding pair. Before you buy any snake for breeding, check for signs that they’re strong and healthy.
- Check that the snake isn’t overweight or underweight. An overweight snake will be large, especially around the middle, and noticeably around the neck. They will also have scale spreading, where gaps appear between the scales.
- Check to make sure that the snake’s parents didn’t brown out as much as other specimens. This makes their color last longer, which will make your snakes more valuable.
This is all especially important if you’re buying a female. Once you have your breeding pair, make sure that they are the right age, particularly the female. If she’s too young to lay eggs, she’ll become ‘egg-bound,’ which is where the eggs get stuck inside her.
According to an article in German journal Tierartzliche Praxis, the only option at this point is to operate. Otherwise, this can very quickly kill her. She should be 1200g at the very least before she breeds, if not more. Males should be 700g, and able to produce a mating plug.
When you’re sure that they’re healthy, lower the temperature in their vivarium by ten degrees for two months. After this period, introduce the male to other males so that he’ll be encouraged to compete and mate. Then introduce the breeding pair and let nature take its course.