Do you want to get into breeding your ball pythons to create awesome and unique colors?
Are you interested in learning a little more about the morph creation process?
One of the most interesting parts of owning reptiles as a serious hobby is getting into breeding morphs for different colors, textures, and patterns.
Ball pythons are fun looking snakes, but with morphs, they can have mesmerizing styles.
You just need to know how to breed ball python morphs.
Breeding ball python morphs is simple with a little research. Research the morphs out there, identify morph qualities you want in offspring, and breed the ball pythons with those morph genes.
Look ahead for more details and answers to commonly asked questions.
What Is A Morph?
The ball python is consistent in its natural colors and look.
They are usually brown or black in the body with lighter colored spots on top and a lighter gold or brown color on the bottom.
However, morphs open up a whole new area of colors and patterns to look into.
In animal breeding, especially reptiles, “morph” is the word used to designate a different coloration, pattern, size, or skin texture.
In general, a morph is a variation on the standard look of the original species.
Morphs are created through a process called selective breeding.
A simplified version of the process is described here.
The breeder sees a male and female ball python whose browns are deeper than normal.
They choose to breed these two together in hopes of creating baby ball pythons with an even deeper coloration.
Some will appear normal in the next generation, and others will be an even deeper brown/black.
The breeder takes the darker ball pythons through several breedings and other pairs and breeds them together to create a few even deeper color morphs.
They continue to do this creating a new morph whose colors seem unlike the original ball python.
How Many Ball Python Morphs Are There?
There are currently 26 identified and accepted ball python morphs out there.
Note: Morphs exclude congenital disabilities as these cause health problems and shouldn’t be sought after.
The morphs on our list don’t affect health greatly and are created through a combination of selective breeding and natural chance.
Here’s the list in short (in alphabet order):
- Albino Ball Python
- Axanthic Ball Python
- Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Python
- Bumblebee Ball Python
- Butter Ball Python
- Candino Ball Python
- Champagne Ball Python
- Chocolate Ball Python
- Cinnamon Ball Python
- Coral Glow Ball Python
- Fire Ball Python
- Ghost Ball Python
- Gotta Have It Ball (GHI) Python
- Ivory Ball Python
- Lesser Ball Python
- Mojave Ball Python
- Mystic Ball Python
- Pastel Ball Python
- Phantom Ball Python
- Piebald Ball Python
- Pinstripe Ball Python
- Spider Ball Python
- Spotnose Ball Python
- Super Blast Ball Python
- Vanilla Ball Python
- Yellow Belly Ball Python
Check out this post for a great list of ball python morphs (pictures included) for a more exhaustive list.
How To Identify Ball Python Morphs
Identifying ball python morphs come down to two main strategies which are useful when combined.
The first is to track the identified morphs in the parents and generations.
This may be difficult when starting with breeding, but chances are, you got your initial ball pythons from experienced breeders.
Talk to them and see if they can give you a starting point.
Keeping a spreadsheet will help you track identified traits better.
This is especially useful in snakes not displaying the desired gene, but it’s still a recessive trait.
The other method is to identify the morph trait by its looks.
This is accurate though, in some cases, it’s difficult to tell the difference between two closely colored morphs.
This also will leave out ball pythons with the recessive genes.
This video may help you to visually identify which morph or color pattern you’re looking at.
How To Breed Ball Python Morphs
Breeding ball python morphs is much like breeding ball pythons, just more specific.
We break it down into four main parts for you in this section.
#1 Identify Morphs And Pairs
The first step we touched on above is identifying the morphs and color qualities you’re looking to breed.
It may be helpful to label each ball python cage with a name and other morph related information.
Even if a ball python isn’t a clear morph, you may see a desirable quality you wish to breed.
For example, look for:
- Changes in color (lighter, darker, more or less of a certain pigment)
- Unique patterns or sizes in the spots
- Difference in the textures of the skin
- Other unique elements
Now, find another adult ball python of the opposite sex with similar or the same quality.
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the closer they are, the better the chances of passing down these traits to their offspring.
Pro-tip: It makes the whole process so much easier to keep track of parents, traits, and other information in an organized way.
Many large scale breeders use labels or a code linked to a spreadsheet of some kind.
If you’re smaller scale or just getting started, you may not feel like you need this now, but down the road, it gets much more complicated to balance the information in your head.
#2 Pair Ball Pythons
Now you’ve found ball pythons to pair; it’s time to encourage them to mate.
The ball python breeding season is interesting.
In short, the ball python is always ready to breed.
As long as your python is big enough and old enough, they’ll be able to breed.
For males, the general rule is to wait until they’re two years old.
For females, the rule is to wait until they’re three years old to attempt mating.
Feel free to attempt this earlier or later and watch to see if the ball pythons are interested.
If they’re not, just give them more time a few months later.
When you’re ready to pair ball pythons, put the male inside the female’s cage and check on them throughout the day.
Male pythons will lock onto the female as they mate.
They mate anywhere between 1-3 times typically.
The locking may be done in minutes or take up to 24 hours.
You need to be around to check and see if they’ve locked.
Keep track of this information as much as possible.
After 48 hours, move the male back to its cage, whether they’ve locked or not.
Warning! Don’t attempt to pair ball pythons and feed them at the same time.
Also, don’t attempt a pairing during a shed.
If the male never locked on the female, increase the protein in the snake’s diet, and attempt again in 2-3 months.
#3 Watch For Pregnancy And Incubate Eggs
Once a pairing is successful, it’s time to check if the female ball python is pregnant.
In general, you’re looking for a thickening body, unusual behavior such as lying upside down, and intensification of colors.
2-3 weeks after pregnancy signs appear, the ball pythons will go through an extra shed called the pre-lay shed.
This shed is a sign in 30 days almost to the day; the female will lay her clutch.
Note: Ball pythons can store sperm for months at a time, so you may not see signs of pregnancy immediately.
This is why you should wait to pair a female 2-3 months after a successful pairing.
The female will lay her clutch and wrap herself around the eggs.
You have the choice of leaving her there or incubating the eggs yourself.
Since you’re breeding them actively, you’ll want to incubate them yourself to increase their chances of survival.
55-60 days after incubation, they’ll hatch babies.
You’ll know the eggs are ready to hatch when they begin to collapse into themselves.
Soon after, the ball python will use its egg tooth to cut its way out.
Don’t cut the eggs open yourself until you see one of the ball pythons breaking free.
Even then, this isn’t needed.
#4 Track And Recorder Baby Ball Pythons
The final part of breeding ball python morphs is more paperwork.
Label and track each baby ball python.
As they age, they’re colors and morph qualities will become more visible.
You’ll notice some of them (the amount depends largely on how strong the morph was in the parents) have the morph quality more or less than the others.
Label and track these.
When they become sexually mature, consider breeding those with similar morph qualities to intensify the color or other change.
Who knows? Maybe you’ll create a whole new morph category.
We hope you enjoyed learning a little more about how to breed ball python morphs.
The process isn’t hard when you look into it.
The hardest part comes from managing all the different ball pythons you’ll have as part of the process.
Fortunately, ball pythons are easier to care for and have easy ball python cage setups.
If you’re interested, use this information to help you dive in and experiment yourself.
Also, check out this article on the WOMA Morph.