Pied Ball Python

Python regius

Last updated: March 14, 2023
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© bluedog studio/Shutterstock.com

Pied 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.

Pied Ball Python Locations

Pied Ball Python Locations

Pied Ball Python Facts

Prey
Rodents and birds
Diet
Omnivore
Average Litter Size
1-14 snakes
Common Name
Pied Ball Python
Special Features
Random white patches against brown or tan skin

Pied Ball Python Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Brown
  • White
  • Tan
Lifespan
10-20 years on average
Length
3 to 6 feet

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Summary

The pied ball python is a unique color morph of the standard ball python.

The pied color morph is extremely rare in the wild, but it is becoming increasingly popular in the pet trade. The piebald pattern, which appears in other animals like horses and dogs, is characterized by white patches surrounding the otherwise dark skin. This is just one of many possible exotic color morphs of the ball python, along with Oreo, pastel, banana, and others. Ball pythons are considered to be easy to care for whether you’re a novice or expert snake owner, but the piebald ball python color morph has a very high upfront price that may deter all but the most dedicated owners.

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5 Pied Ball Python Amazing Facts

  • The ball python’s annual reproductive season usually takes place between September and November, but it’s also possible to breed them all year-round. The mother will produce a clutch of up to 14 eggs that stick to each other with an adhesive. She will coil around the clutch until the eggs are ready to hatch about a month or two later. The males do not seem to play any role in the care or development of the offspring.
  • Ball pythons tend to have an average lifespan of about 10 years in the wild and some 20 years in captivity. However, one specimen from the Philadelphia Zoo supposedly lived some 50 years old.
  • Piebald ball pythons, like all ball pythons, have five labial pits on either side of the mouth to sense heat or infrared radiation. This helps them find food when it becomes dark out.
  • While they spend most of their time on the ground, ball pythons are also decent climbers and excellent swimmers.
  • Males have large spurs on both sides of the body to grip the female during sex. Females have these spurs too, but they are smaller.

Where to Find Pied Them

In the wild, ball pythons are found in grasslands, savannas, and sparse woodlands throughout West Africa, from the Atlantic coast almost to Lake Victoria. In the wild, ball pythons spend much of the day in underground burrows. They are most active at dawn and dusk hunting for prey.

Scientific Name

The scientific name of the ball python is Python regius. The word Python derives from the Greek name of a huge mythological serpent killed by Apollo, whereas Regius means royal or kingly in Latin. This species is closely related to the Indian python and the African rock python in the same genus.



Enchi ball python
The scientific name of the ball python is Python regius.

©iStock.com/Li Chun

Population & Conservation Status

According to the IUCN Red List, the ball python is near threatened in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching. There isn’t enough information about this species to make any population estimates, but numbers do appear to be decreasing across much of its natural range. The pied color morph in particular is very rare in the wild and usually the result of a random mutation that quickly dies out or becomes diluted, but it was carefully bred in captivity to create more of them for the pet trade.

Pinstripe Pied Ball Python
The pied color morph in particular is very rare in the wild.

©Deb Davis/Shutterstock.com

History and Evolution

Because Piebaldism is a recessive gene, you are not going to find many of these types of pythons. It has to have two parents both with this same gene, and then it will have a small possibility of occurring. You can see how this is would be a disadvantage in the wild. Snakes, as predators, rely on stealth and their camouflage to allow them to sneak attack their prey. For bigger snakes like the ball python who move slowly on land, this is even more true.

The good news is that this gene does not pose any threats to the snake, and breeding them to further prolong the gene poses no immediate threats to the species. The interesting news is that this gene produces some extremely exciting and designer looks. As a whole, this can be good for bringing more interest and reducing the stigmas surrounding snakes.

Orange Dream Ball Python
The Piebaldism gene produces riveting designs.

©Pavaphon Supanantananont/Shutterstock.com

How to Identify Pied Them: Appearance and Description

Most ball pythons are characterized by black or dark brown skin with irregular light brown blotches or stripes running along the back and sides. Piebald ball python color morphs mostly have this same pattern but with the addition of large white patches of varying size all over the body. Some individuals are almost completely white with only a few brown patches instead. The piebald morph is caused by a “recessive” trait (meaning the snake must inherit the trait from both parents) that creates white non-pigmented patches along their skin. In addition to the “regular” pied ball python, there are also pied versions of the banana, pastel, and Oreo python too.

Apart from their unique skin color, they look almost exactly like any other ball python. Piebald ball pythons have large, thick bodies, measuring somewhere between 3 and 6 feet long and up to 5.5 pounds in weight, with triangle-shaped heads. Adult females tend to be slightly larger than adult males, but otherwise, the sexes are difficult to tell apart without a very thorough examination.

Here is how to identify the pied ball python:

  • Light brown blotches or stripes against a dark brown or black background
  • Large white patches all over the body
  • 3 to 6 feet in length
  • Triangle-shaped head

How Dangerous Are They?

Pied ball pythons are not very dangerous to humans at all. They are non-venomous snakes that hunt for prey entirely through constriction. A bite may cause pain, swelling, and redness, but otherwise it poses no significant danger or long term complications. Adult pythons are near the top of the food chain. They have few natural predators in the wild, but they may seek cover or rely on their camouflage if threatened. Younger pythons may be preyed upon by carnivorous mammals and large birds.

Scaleless Ball Python 1
These snakes are non-venomous and non-aggressive.

©Keung/Shutterstock.com

Behavior and Humans

Because piebald ball pythons lack sharp fangs and venom, they do not generally attempt to bite people except out of self-defense. When threatened, this snake will roll up into a ball (hence the name) with their head and neck tucked away in the middle of the pile. Their fairly non-aggressive temperament can actually make them quite easy to handle in captivity, provided they have grown used to your presence. However, there are limits to how much you can interact with the snake. They should not be handled while shedding their skin, because they are particularly sensitive at this time. They should not be fed by hand either, because they can accidentally bite. And ball pythons should never be approached in the wild, because they may attempt to fight back.

Freeway ball python
Pied ball pythons should not be fed by hand because they can accidentally bite.

©Pavaphon Supanantananont/Shutterstock.com

In captivity, a pet pied ball python has several special considerations for its care. The snake will need at least a 60-gallon tank longer than it is tall. This tank should be filled with soil or wood shavings, a water dish for drinking and soaking, and plenty of logs and other hiding places. The temperature should be set to 80 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit during the day with a basking spot up to 90 degrees. Full spectrum lighting should be used to mimic its natural conditions, but an UVB lamp hasn’t proven to be necessary. The humidity should be set to around 55% to 60% to create a comfortable environment for your snake. Depending on their size, an adult snake will need to be fed a large freshly dead or thawed rat or mice once every two to four weeks. Keep in mind they can be a little picky about the freshness of their food. The snake may reject older food that’s been sitting out too long.

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About the Author

Heather Ross is a secondary English teacher and mother of 2 humans, 2 tuxedo cats, and a golden doodle. In between taking the kids to soccer practice and grading papers, she enjoys reading and writing about all the animals!

Pied Ball Python FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are pied ball pythons venomous?

Ball pythons do not have the ability to produce venom.

How do pied ball pythons hunt?

Ball pythons are “sit and wait” ambush predators. After rapidly striking out at their prey, they will attempt to constrict it to death. This means their bodies will wrap around the prey and cut off blood flow until it dies. They may also swallow the prey alive too.

Are pied ball pythons aggressive?

Ball pythons are not that aggressive for a snake of their size. Once the snake has grown accustomed to your presence, a pet ball python may even allow you to pick it up.

Where do pied ball pythons live?

In the wild, ball pythons tend to live in grasslands, savannas, and light forests throughout West Africa.

What do pied ball pythons eat?

The diet of the ball python consists mostly of rodents and birds. Some of their favorite foods include black rats, African giant rats, shaggy rats, rufous-nosed rats, and grass mice.

How expensive is a pied ball python?

Due to their relative rarity, the price of a typical pied ball python is normally between $400 and $600. However, even rarer versions of the pied ball python like the banana, pastel, Oreo, and scaleless are even costlier. The price can easily set you back some $2,000 to $8,000.

How big are pied ball pythons?

Ball pythons can grow up to a length of about 6 feet but usually not much longer. The typical weight is about 5.5 pounds, but the largest ever recorded ball python reached a weight of about 9 pounds. The skin color does not affect the size of the snake at all.

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

Sources
  1. , Available here: https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Python_regius/
  2. , Available here: ttps://www.iucnredlist.org/species/177562/15340592
  3. , Available here: https://www.everythingreptiles.com/pied-ball-python/

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