Freeway Ball Python

Python regius

Last updated: October 15, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Fivespots/Shutterstock.com

Freeway ball pythons come from breeding yellow belly and asphalt ball pythons.

Freeway Ball Python Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Reptilia
Order
Squamata
Family
Pythonidae
Genus
Python
Scientific Name
Python regius

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Freeway Ball Python Conservation Status

Freeway Ball Python Locations

Freeway Ball Python Locations

Freeway Ball Python Facts

Prey
Small rodents, nestling birds
Main Prey
Rats and mice
Name Of Young
Hatchling, snakelet
Group Behavior
  • Solitary except during mating season
Fun Fact
Freeway ball pythons come from breeding yellow belly and asphalt ball pythons.
Most Distinctive Feature
Thick dorsal stripe, can be broken or solid.
Gestation Period
60-80 days
Litter Size
2-15
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Nocturnal
Favorite Food
Rodents

Freeway Ball Python Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • Yellow
  • Tan
Skin Type
Scales
Weight
5-8 pounds
Length
4-6 feet
Age of Sexual Maturity
2-4 years
Venomous
No
Aggression
Low

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Freeway ball pythons are nonvenomous constrictors that are captive-bred as pets.

Ball pythons are native to Africa and became popular pets in the 1970s. Since 1975, over 3 million ball pythons have been exported. Over the years, breeders have been able to create a vast array of colors and patterns, making them one of the most beautiful pet snakes.

Incredible Freeway Ball Python FactsThe yellow

  • This morph is caused by two alleles – different versions of the same gene.
  • More than 3 million ball pythons have been exported from Africa since the 1970s.
  • Some of the fancy ball python patterns were natural mutations found in Africa.

Freeway Ball Python Scientific Name and Classification

Ball pythons are nonvenomous constrictors in the family Pythonidae. Pythons are considered Old World snakes because they are native to areas of Europe, Asia, Africa, and Oceana. There are about 40 species in the Pythonidae family and 10 in the Python genus, to which the ball python belongs. Their scientific name is Python regius, which means royal python.

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Ball pythons were believed to be worn as jewelry, and Cleopatra of Egypt is one that’s regularly mentioned as possibly wearing them. Their common name of ball python comes from their habit of rolling into a ball when they feel threatened.

Freeway Ball Python Appearance and Behavior

Freeway ball python
More than 3 million ball pythons have been exported from Africa since the 1970s.

Pavaphon Supanantananont/Shutterstock.com

Ball pythons are nonvenomous stout, muscular snakes, and the freeway morph is no exception to that. They generally reach 4-6 feet in length and the females are the larger snakes. Freeway ball pythons have a strong dorsal stripe and generally little pattern on the side. It often looks similar to the texture of an asphalt road. This is where the morph gets its name. Sometimes the stripe is wide and solid, other times it is broken. Their patterns vary widely and some have typical ball pythons markings in addition to the dorsal stripe, while others have gravelly patterns with colors ranging from black to yellow or red.


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Freeway Ball pythons are just like their wild cousins, except because they’re born in captivity, they’re more docile than those wild-caught snakes. As a general rule, ball pythons are calm snakes that don’t get upset about much.

They are nocturnal, and during the day they’re more likely to coil up in a warm place until the sun goes down. These ambush predators sit, waiting for their prey to stumble too close. When they strike, they grab the animal with a mouth full of rear-pointed teeth. Then, the snake coils around it and squeezes until its heart stops beating. The snake then can swallow its food whole without difficulty.

Freeway Ball Python Morph Characteristics

The freeway morph is created when you breed an asphalt ball python to a yellow belly ball python. They’re part of the yellow belly complex, along with specter, spark, gravel, and flare.

Freeway ball pythons are highly variable and get their name from the dorsal stripe they exhibit. This ball python morph isn’t caused by two separate genes, but by two alleles. According to Britannica.com, an allele isn’t a different gene, but a mutation of the same gene.

The way that alleles work is interesting. It’s like saying that you prefer black jeans over blue jeans. They’re all jeans, just different colors. With animals, when you mix alleles together, sometimes you get really unique patterns. Such is the case with ball pythons. In fact, no other pet reptile has as many color patterns.

Freeway Ball Python Habitat and Diet

Ball pythons originate in central and western Africa, in the countries of Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Central African Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, DR Congo, and South Sudan. Of the 17 countries where they occur, Benin, Togo, and Ghana are exporting the most.

These snakes prefer grasslands and woodlands with enough vegetation to feel safe. They inhabit areas with lots of vegetation for cover, which can sometimes include agricultural areas. Wild ball pythons’ natural markings make them almost invisible as they move through the dense underbrush.

Despite their wide distribution across Subsaharan Africa, little is known about them outside of the main export countries of Benin, Ghana, and Togo. However, ball pythons are often found hiding inside of termite mounds, hollow tree trunks, and abandoned termite mounds.

Among pet snake owners, they’re known as clutter-loving snakes. The more clutter in their environment, the happier they get.

These snakes are obligate carnivores, and only eat small rodents like rats and mice, nestling birds, and juveniles in the wild will sometimes eat lizards.

Freeway Ball Python Predators, Threats, Conservation, and Population

Freeway ball pythons, because they’re captive-bred, and a fancy morph on top of that, aren’t in danger of going extinct. Wild ball pythons, on the other hand, are “Near Threatened,” according to the IUCN Redlist of Threatened Species. The population of wild ball pythons has decreased over the last couple of decades. Scientists believe that it’s because these snakes are heavily exploited for food, leather, and medicine.

That’s in addition to the heavy pet trade export, which often targets gravid females. When ball pythons were first becoming popular, traders would sell any ball python they could. It was a new source of income for their families and often helped them eat regularly. However, those adults that they exported often didn’t live very long. The simple stress of capture and being shipped across the world killed some, and others weren’t healthy. They were infested with mites and intestinal worms, and some had old injuries that didn’t heal correctly.

For export, traders now target pregnant females because when the babies hatch, most of them are exported. These snakes are healthier, less stressed, and generally do much better. Unfortunately, focusing on females in this way may be damaging the genetic diversity of those in the wild. There’s a lot that scientists don’t yet know, but the demand for ball pythons in captivity isn’t going away, so hopefully, more research will be done.

Freeway Ball Python Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

Freeway ball pythons can live up to 30 years in captivity, and like other ball pythons, are easy to keep happy. They’re low maintenance, and yet pretty cool to handle as a pet.

These snakes mature at 2-4 years of age in captivity. In the wild, that may take a little longer if prey is scarce when they’re growing. Like other pythons, the females lay eggs and coil around them for protection until they hatch. Female ball pythons can lay up to 15 eggs, but seeing 5-10 is more common.

The babies hatch looking much like mom and dad and are ready to fend for themselves soon afterward.

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About the Author

Gail is a musician, author, and artist with more ideas than time. She loves learning about all things in the natural world. Her upcoming book, Pebble Worms and Fast Walkers is filled with all the random bits that kids love! She lives in North Texas with her husband, twin sons, dogs, cat, two red-eared sliders, and two ball pythons.

Freeway Ball Python FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What do freeway ball pythons eat?

These captive-bred ball pythons are just like their wild cousins. They prefer small warm-blooded prey like rats and mice.

Where do freeway ball pythons live?

While you might be able to find one of these in the wild, it’s unlikely. This is a designer ball python morph that breeders created to fill the demand for uniquely patterned ball pythons.

What causes the freeway ball python morph?

Genes are interesting, aren’t they? In this case, it’s not two separate color/pattern genes, but alleles that cause the pattern. Alleles are two versions of the same gene that, when mixed, can produce something very different from the original.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

Sources
  1. D'Cruze, N., Wilms, T., Penner, J., Luiselli, L., Jallow, M., Segniagbeto, G., Niagate, B. & Schmitz, A. 2021. Python regius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2021: e.T177562A15340592. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2021-2.RLTS.T177562A15340592.en. Accessed on 22 August 2022., Available here: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/177562/15340592
  2. Python regius | Reptarium Reptile Database, Available here: https://reptile-database.reptarium.cz/species?genus=Python&species=regius
  3. Ball python genetic traits | Morphopedia, Available here: https://www.morphmarket.com/morphpedia/ball-pythons/
  4. Von Hagen, Warwick, Understanding Allelic Genes in Ball Pythons, The Ball Street Journal, Available here: https://jkrballstreetjournal.com/2016/04/19/understanding-allelic-genes-in-ball-pythons/
  5. Rogers, Kara; What's the Difference Between a Gene and an Allele | Encyclopedia Britannica, Available here: https://www.britannica.com/story/whats-the-difference-between-a-gene-and-an-allele

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