Choosing the perfect snake really comes down to two things: species and appearance. There is a reason that you display these incredible animals in glass tanks! For many, picking the species of snake is easy. One of the best snakes for any reptile enthusiast is the ball python, a quite famous snake nowadays. Maybe it was holding one at a friend’s house or seeing them resting quietly in a tank at a pet store that finally sold you. Regardless, if you are here, you are at least considering a ball python as a pet. Logically, the next step is to pick out the most beautiful ball python morph that you can. We are here to help!
Choosing a Ball Python Morph
A “morph” is simply a set of inherited traits that can be identified within a species. Ball python breeders have been selectively breeding certain characteristics into their snakes for decades. As a result, there are a lot of morphs out there. Currently, there are over 4,000 known morphs in captivity, with more being created every year that aren’t recognized officially.
It may seem overwhelming but there is a morph out there for you! 4,000 seems like a really big number, most of those morphs are almost identical in color and pattern and wouldn’t be easily distinguished, save by a professional. Instead of making a list of 4,000 morphs, many of which would look the same, we are going to cover the 18 different “base” morphs in some detail. Most of the 4,000 morphs can be created by cross-breeding these 18 base morphs and giving them a marketable name. Combining the Albino-Lesser-Piebald over a few generations, for example, will result in a “Dreamsicle” morph. These morphs are incredibly exclusive and not available to most consumers. These designer morphs are amazing, but they are simply the result of combining traits over a few generations.
Morph: A snake morph is a unique combination of traits that produce a particular appearance through coloration and/or patterns.
Super: A “super” morph is the presence of two dominant genes, usually resulting in a stronger, more intensely displaying morph.
Axanthic: A trait that results in a lack of xanthophores (yellow pigment).
Albino: A total lack of melanin (dark pigment).
Amelanism: Similiar to albinism and is often used interchangeably in snake morphs, but usually means lack of melanin in certain areas.
Hypomelanism: A reduction of melanin.
Designer morphs: Rare morphs that are attempted by breeders, usually with a high price tag.
A List of the 18 Most Common Ball Python Morphs
|Albino||Yellow and white, red eyes||$300-$500|
|Axanthic||Black, white, and brown||$400+|
|Banana or Coral Glow||High-contrast yellow, orange, and lavender. Small black dots along body||$250-$500|
|Black Pastel||Extra black pigment, sharp contrast between black and brown patterns||$125|
|Caramel Albino||Lavender, yellow, brown, cream, red eyes||$300+|
|Champagne||Reduced patterns, spotted back stripe, washed appearance||$200|
|Cinnamon||Dark, contrasting, tan and brown||$50-$100|
|Clown||Distinct contrasting coloration in unusual patterns, usually a pattern-free head||$200|
|Fire||Accentuated golden tones, super fires are almost totally white with golden backs||$50-$75|
|Ghost||Hypomelanistic, hazy brown and tan||$100|
|Lesser||Washed appearance, light brown with negative space yellow splotches||$125|
|Mojave||Contrasting black and gold markings, super Mojaves are white with blue eyes||$80|
|Pastel||Hypomelanistic, brighter colors with unique patterns. Often used as a designer base||$50|
|Piebald||Striking, large areas of total white contrasting to large areas of unaffected pattern||$300+|
|Pinstripe||Dark brown bodies with thin black patterns in a pinstripe pattern||$100|
|Scaleless||Reduced or total lack of scales, come in a variety of patterns and colors||$1,000|
|Spider||Brighter colors, reduced patterns, thin black pattern lining, can result in neurological disorders.||$100|
|Yellow Belly||Unmarked bellies with an occasional yellow wash, light pattern elements, super form is known as an ivory morph||$50|
The albino ball python morph is characterized by its bright yellow and white colorings and contrasting patterns. They usually have bright red eyes that compliment the look of these striking snakes. Albino ball pythons were the first-ever recessive morph to be bred. The resulting snake is amelanistic and can’t produce the browns and blacks that standard ball pythons are known for.
The albino ball python is sold on its own, but it is commonly used as a base to achieve more difficult morphs. They are easily some of the coolest snakes to have in a terrarium.
The Axanthic ball python morph is characterized by its lack of yellow and red pigments across its body. Where albino pythons can’t produce melanin (the darkening pigment), axanthic pythons can’t produce xanthophores. Xanthophores produce red and yellow pigments, often resulting in a snake can be black and white. Depending on the pattern, this is often referred to as a “stormtrooper” morph.
This morph was discovered in 1997 and is often used as a base for other designed morphs. When looking for an axanthic python the specific breeding line determines the price. The most famous breeder lines are the TSK, VPI, Joliff, and MJ lines.
Banana or Coral Glow
The coral glow ball python (also referred to as the banana glow) morph is characterized by its lavender undertones and contrasting yellow patterns. These purple and yellow snakes are truly beautiful and worthy of display in any tank.
The banana and coral glow morphs are just different names for the same thing and were first produced in 2003. After decades of breeding, these snakes are more widely available, primarily through online retailers and breeders.
Black Pastel and Super Black Pastel
The black pastel morph is characterized by its dark black and brown colorings and grey-tinged base. Although beautiful, the real change happens when two black pastels are bred to create a super black pastel. Super black pastels are characterized by their entirely black or grey bodies and lack of visible pattern. The difference is so striking that many people wouldn’t even recognize them as ball pythons.
Cost: Black Pastel: $125 Super black pastel: $1,500
The caramel albino morph is characterized by its lavender, yellow, brown, and cream colorations. These colors are the result of amelanism but with a specific mutation that still allows them to produce tyrosinase. The resulting snakes can have dark red eyes and smooth, beautiful colors.
The champagne ball python morph (also known as the puma morph) is characterized by its dark brown or tan color with light striping down the spine. The most striking feature of these snakes is their reduced or total lack of patterns. Their mutation pairs well with other morphs and acts as a brightening agent, often making them more vivid. They were first bred in 2002 and have been available ever since.
Cinnamon and Super Cinnamon
The cinnamon ball python morph is characterized by its brownish-red coloration and bronze ringing surrounded by dark brown or black. Cinnamons are common snakes and can be found at most pet stores.
Crossing two cinnamons, however, results in a super cinnamon. Super cinnamons are characterized by their patternless bodies, pale cinnamon or cocoa color, and striking look.
Cost: Cinnamon: $50-$100 Super Cinnamon: $350+
The clown ball python morph is characterized by its unique color and pattern mutation. The resulting snake usually has a wide spinal stripe with random dark spotting across the head and body. They are usually a dark yellowish tan with dark black patterns.
Clown morphs get their name from the first individual with the morph who had a teardrop-like spot just under its eye like a clown.
Fire and Super Fire
The fire ball python morph is characterized by its rich golden tones and reddish-brown patterning. Fire morphs are relatively common, with the real magic happening with a super fire morph. Super fire morphs are characterized by their white bodies with flecks of yellow patterns across their bodies. They are referred to as black eyes leucistic pythons and are very sought after.
Cost: Fire: $50-$75 Super Fire: $300+
The ghost ball python morph is characterized by its washed-out appearance and light coloration. Ghost morphs get their unique look from a form of hypomelanism that reduces the brightness of most of the colors on the snake. A ghost morph and a snake that is about to morph often look very similar.
The lesser ball python morph is characterized by dark brown patterns and a washed-out white base that dissolves towards the belly. They occasionally have yellow spots and large balloon patches heading down the body. These unique snakes are often combined with other morphs to make interesting combos.
The first-ever lesser was bred in 2001 and went for an incredible $30,000. Today, thankfully, they are much less expensive.
Mojave and Super Mojave
The Mojave ball python morph is characterized by its strongly contrasting black and gold patterning. They are also famous for their alien heads, a special pattern on their head that resembles an alien. Mojave morphs are also known to have patternless white bellies.
The super Mojave morph is characterized by a stark white body and stunning blue eyes. They occasionally have dark heads, making for one of the most striking snakes on our list.
Cost: Mojave: $80 Super Mojave: $300+
The pastel ball python morph is characterized by its hypomelanistic appearance and more vibrant coloration. These snakes are really common and often used as a base for other designed morphs. Super pastels have accentuated vibrancy, often with a strong yellow base and light tan markings.
Cost: Pastel: $50 Super Pastel: $150
The piebald ball python morph is characterized by its large areas of total whiteness and random patches of totally unaffected color. Piebald ball pythons may be the most interesting-looking snake on the list and resemble a regular ball python that someone accidentally dropped large splashes of white paint on. The result is one of the most beautiful snakes in the world.
The pinstripe ball python morph is characterized by its standard coloration but unique patterning. Where a standard python has blotches of brown, the pinstripe morph is famous for its minimal patterning that is usually relegated to a few jagged stripes down the spine and towards the belly. Since there is little patterning, the natural brown of the snake really shines through.
The scaleless ball python morph is characterized by a total or largely reduced presence of scales across the body. They are still new and rare but are being successfully bred in some lines. Most scaleless morphs have scales on their bellies in order to help them move around.
The first scaleless morph was bred from scaleless-head morphs back in 2013 but have since become a bit more popular. Still, they are incredibly pricey snakes.
The spider ball python morph is characterized by its brown color base and dark brown lines spread around the body. The belly color is white and reaches about halfway up the snake. The thin “spidery” markings are where the name originated from when it was first bred in 1999. Since then, it has become a common morph.
The yellow belly ball python morph is characterized by a clean yellow-tinted belly and traditional markings across the body. Yellow belly python morphs are often used in combination with other morphs to create designed morphs, notably the Gravel morph.
A List of Ball Python Morphs
Although we covered many of the basic morphs, there are still a LOT more out there. Here is a list of some of the morphs that are available today. Keep in mind that many of these names are just certain combinations of mutations with a marketing spin.
A list of ball python morphs:
- Blue-Eyed Leucistic
- Blue-Eyed Lucy
- Bongo Pastel
- Fire Ivory
- Ghi Ball Python
- Lavender Albino
- Lemon Blast
- Purple Passion
- Super Blast
For a running list of all 7,000+ morphs (recognized and unrecognized alike), check out the link here.
Although many of these snakes are beautiful, there is also something truly magnificent about a totally normal ball python! If you are considering one for a pet, don’t get too worried about finding the “perfect” morph to display. We promise that, once you get your new snake, the color of it won’t matter all that much. Besides, you will have a new friend!
Discover the "Monster" Snake 5X Bigger than an Anaconda
Every day A-Z Animals sends out some of the most incredible facts in the world from our free newsletter. Want to discover the 10 most beautiful snakes in the world, a "snake island" where you're never more than 3 feet from danger, or a "monster" snake 5X larger than an anaconda? Then sign up right now and you'll start receiving our daily newsletter absolutely free.
The Featured Image
Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.