Ball pythons are native to Africa, Asia, and Australia, and thousands are exported to the United States every year to be kept as pets.
A regular ball python’s base coloring will be either black, dark gray, or brown.
A splotchy pattern in yellow, light brown, or gold covers the length of the snake’s body, and the ventral scales are usually white or cream.
So, what makes a Pastel ball python different?
A Pastel ball python is a color morph of a regular ball python, and it features a more vibrant, yellow coloration, white lips, and pale green or gold eyes. The color morph of a Pastel ball python is caused by a co-dominant gene mutation, which causes the colors of the snake to be more vivid.
Color morphs are achieved and strengthened through selective breeding, and you will not see these color variations in the wild.
The first Pastel ball python clutch was recorded in 1997, and the morph has greatly increased in popularity since then.
There are now several colorations of Pastel ball pythons available today.
Keep reading for more information on proper husbandry for a Pastel ball python, including details on the care, enclosure, behavior, and color variations of this popular reptile.
We have also provided information on the price and availability of Pastel ball pythons to help you make an informed decision about choosing one as a pet.
Pastel Ball Python Care
As a whole, Pastel ball pythons have the same basic care requirements as regular ball pythons since the only difference between them is their coloration. They eat small rodents as their staple, live for 20-30 years, and are prone to diet and shedding-related health problems.
In this section, we take a closer look at this reptile’s diet, its lifespan in captivity, and any health issues it may be prone to having.
Pastel ball pythons are carnivores, and they mostly eat small rodents.
While these snakes are large enough to eat small rats, mice are the most common food in captivity.
In the wild, ball pythons will also eat lizards and small birds, and they do their hunting at night.
In general, males tend to climb trees and eat more birds, while female ball pythons usually stay closer to the ground and eat mostly rodents.
Ball pythons are also constrictors, which means they kill their prey by tightly coiling around it.
In captivity, however, it is best to feed your Pastel ball python dead mice because live prey poses a risk of biting and harming your snake.
Frozen mice are available at most pet stores and reptile specialty shops, and it is possible to buy them in bulk for added convenience.
Be sure to thaw the mouse before feeding it to your ball python.
Never feed your Pastel ball python any mice or other rodents you find in the wild.
Wild rodents are likely infested with parasites or carry other illnesses which may be very harmful to your snake.
As a general rule, your python’s prey should only be as wide as the thickest part of the snake’s body.
While the ball python is certainly capable of eating much larger prey, it is best to avoid putting any extra strain on your pet’s body.
Compared to other reptiles, ball pythons are much more low-maintenance when feeding time since they only need to eat one mouse per week.
In addition to weekly feeding, you should provide your python with a water dish at all times.
The dish should be large enough for your snake to soak, and you should change the water daily or whenever the water is dirty.
Pastel Ball Python Lifespan
Ball pythons in the wild will usually live for around 10 years, but their lifespan ranges between 20-30 years in captivity.
One of the oldest ball pythons on record lived to be 47 years old, and it was kept at the Philadelphia Zoo.
However, the oldest ball python is from the St. Louis Zoo, and at 62 years old, the snake laid a clutch of eggs in the summer of 2020.
It is not typical of a ball python to live for well over 40 years, much less lay a clutch of eggs, so this is rare.
Even if your pet does not live to a record-setting age, a Pastel ball python requires a serious time commitment from you, and you should consider this before acquiring one.
As a whole, Pastel ball pythons are very hardy snakes with very few health issues.
Most health problems are due to improper care and stress.
The most common diseases among captive snakes are mouth and scale rot, dystocia, prolapse, and cancer.
Because of the specialized care requirements and behavior of the Pastel ball python, they tend to be prone to more specific issues such as:
- Shedding problems
Changes to their environment easily stress pastel ball pythons, and they may refuse to eat for prolonged periods.
It is perfectly normal for your python to refuse to eat when you first bring it home, as well.
Give your new pet some time to adjust to its surroundings, and it will resume its normal appetite.
Since ball pythons are constrictors, there is a chance for them to drag their prey through the loose substrate in the enclosure.
If enough foreign materials are ingested over time, it will lead to impaction, which is the inability to pass feces.
To avoid this, feed your Pastel ball python in a separate area without any substrate, such as a plastic storage box or an empty tank.
Because Pastel ball pythons have high humidity requirements, they will have problems shedding properly if the humidity is too low or inconsistent in their enclosure.
If your snake is having issues with shedding, you will see stuck shed on its body.
Invest in a good hygrometer to monitor humidity levels in your snake’s enclosure regularly.
Ball pythons are not very active animals, and this makes them prone to obesity.
It is essential to take notice of any changes in your snake’s body so you will be able to tell if it is gaining too much weight.
If you notice any signs of illness such as lethargy, nasal discharge, wheezing, or open-mouth breathing, you should seek veterinary care.
Any of these symptoms, usually coupled with a lack of appetite, indicate sickness in your snake, and they should not be ignored.
Pastel Ball Python Enclosure
Your Pastel ball python’s environment plays a huge role in keeping your snake healthy and happy. The enclosure needs to be large enough for the python to move freely (50 gallons preferred), and it needs to have the proper temperature and humidity specific to your reptile.
You will also need to provide your ball python with plenty of foliage, branches, and rocks, so your snake has plenty of places to climb and hide.
Plastic reptile terrariums are better than glass terrariums because the screen lid on glass tanks makes it difficult to maintain the high humidity levels required by the python.
The clear sides on glass tanks may also cause stress for your snake.
No matter which type of enclosure you choose, special care should be taken to secure the tank lid.
Pastel ball pythons are notorious for being good at escaping.
Placement of your ball python’s enclosure is also important because you want to avoid placing it in a busy area of your home.
Too much traffic, lots of noise, and other pets in the household will cause a lot of stress for your snake.
The size of your Pastel ball python’s enclosure will change as they get older and grow larger.
Younger snakes need smaller enclosures to feel secure, or they will be stressed.
Older snakes need larger tanks to accommodate their growth.
Hatchling pythons younger than one year will need a tank size of 10 gallons.
Juveniles over one foot long should be upgraded to a 20-gallon tank.
Adult ball pythons should be housed in an enclosure between 30 and 55 gallons, depending on the snake’s size.
Ideally, the python should be able to stretch out in its enclosure without having to curl up or bend fully.
Anything larger will just cause stress for the animal because it will not feel secure.
Because of the high humidity requirements for Pastel ball pythons, bacteria and mold will easily grow in your snake’s enclosure.
To keep this from happening, you will need to keep up a regular cleaning and maintenance routine.
Every day, you will need to spot-clean your python’s tank by removing feces and urates.
Once a month, you should deep clean the enclosure by sanitizing it.
The sanitizing process should include changing the substrate and cleaning all of the items in the tank with soap and water.
To thoroughly clean wooden items, bake them in your oven at 350° degrees Fahrenheit (177° C) for 15 minutes.
For plastic items, such as fake plants, use a diluted bleach solution between 5%-10% to clean them and rinse thoroughly with water.
Allow everything to dry before placing it all back into the enclosure.
Humidity and Misting
The humidity of a Pastel ball python’s enclosure should be between 50%-60% to simulate the snake’s natural environment.
When your python is shedding, the humidity should be increased to a range of 70%-80%.
The increase in humidity helps the python with the shedding process, so the snake can remove the shed skin on its own.
To raise the humidity in the enclosure, use a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water and lightly mist the entire enclosure.
Avoid getting the substrate wet, as this could cause mold and bacteria to grow.
The substrate should be allowed to dry between misting sessions.
Another way to increase humidity in the python’s enclosure is to use a cage fogger found in many pet supply stores.
A cage fogger creates a gentle mist, but it should only be used for 15 minutes, no more than twice a day.
If the fogger is used more than this, the fog in the enclosure will become too dense and could lead to upper respiratory infections in your snake.
Snakes are ectothermic animals, which means they rely on their environment to regulate their body temperature.
Because of this, it is vital to have a temperature gradient in your Pastel ball python’s enclosure, so it has a way to both warm-up and cool down.
The warmer end of the enclosure should have a temperature range between 88-96° degrees Fahrenheit (36° C), and the cooler end should be between 78-80° degrees Fahrenheit (27° C).
The ambient temperature in the enclosure should never drop below 75° degrees Fahrenheit (24° C).
There are several different ways to heat your Pastel ball python’s enclosure.
Options include basking bulbs, ceramic heat emitters, and under-tank heaters.
You should never use heat rocks because they often do not heat evenly, and your snake could be burned from hot spots.
You should be using a thermostat to control the temperature of your under-tank heater and ceramic heat emitter to keep them from overheating.
Invest in a digital thermometer to monitor the temperature of the enclosure every day.
It is crucial to maintain proper enclosure temperatures to prevent health issues in your ball python.
Unlike other reptiles, ball pythons do not need UVB lighting to stay healthy, but you may choose to use one.
When using a UVB lamp in your ball python’s enclosure, be sure to keep a constant light cycle of 12 hours on and 12 hours off.
Constant lighting over a nocturnal animal such as the ball python is very stressful and may disrupt their sleeping patterns.
Pastel Ball Python Behavior and Handling
Pastel ball pythons are docile and shy reptiles, and they make great pets for both experienced and new reptile owners. Because of their even temperament, ball pythons often enjoy being handled once they know their owner.
Ball pythons are nocturnal, so they tend to spend their night hunting and being active, and during the day, they rest and spend time in their hide.
You should provide your snake with two humid hides, and they should be placed on opposite ends of the enclosure.
This gives the python a choice between a warm area and a cooler one, so it will regulate its body temperature while still being comfortable in a hiding spot.
Your Pastel ball python may see you as a threat until it understands you will not harm it.
To establish trust with your snake, avoid fast movements around it and always support its body during handling.
A ball python may initially hide or even bite you when you first handle it, but your snake will become more relaxed and enjoy being handled by you over time.
If your python seems anxious or ready to strike, it is best to handle it when it is more relaxed.
You should also avoid handling your Pastel ball python before feeding it because some snakes may not eat for a while after being handled.
It is also a good idea to avoid handling your python right after it has eaten because it could be very uncomfortable for the snake.
In other ball python morphs, such as the Piebald or the Albino, two pairs of the gene with the desired color morph are required to pass this trait to the offspring. However, Pastel morphs are co-dominant, which means only one copy of the gene is needed to pass along the desired trait.
Breeding two Pastels together will not give you an entire clutch of them.
Instead, 25% of the clutch will inherit the normal gene, 50% will be Pastels, and 25% will be known as Super Pastels.
Super Pastels are more yellow with high contrast in the patterns.
Normal ball pythons are black with brown splotchy patterning, and the head and eyes are usually these same dark colors.
Pastel ball pythons have the same type of pattern as a normal ball python but with much more contrast in their colors.
Their pattern is very defined, and there is blushing, which means the center of the pattern is a lighter, faded color.
Pastels also have bright yellow or orange patterns instead of brown, and they will almost always have white lips and pale green or gold eyes.
Pastel ball pythons are also known as Jungle Pastels, and ball python owners highly prize their vibrant colors.
Since their introduction in 1997, more color variations have been bred with the Pastel morph, producing even more stunning colorations.
The Black Pastel variation was introduced in 2002, and it features a dark gold or rust base color with high-contrast patterning.
This morph may also have oval shapes in the pattern on its sides.
Cinnamon Pastels, usually just known as “Cinnamons,” are very similar to the Black Pastel, except the base color is dark cinnamon.
The Lemon Pastel morph is lighter than a regular Pastel, and they retain the yellow coloring they have as babies when they become adults.
In recent years, many new morphs have resulted from breeding a Pastel ball python with other morphs.
For instance, breeding a Pastel with a Spider produces what is known as a Bumblebee morph due to the black and yellow coloration.
A regular Pastel and a Cinnamon are bred together to produce a Pewter ball python morph, which has an almost silver coloring in its patterning.
Many breeders will use Pastels as a way of brightening up the yellow colors in a ball python.
Because of their co-dominant genetics, a color variation is highly likely.
Like color morphs, the markings on a ball python will vary greatly.
The most common markings are blotches or spots, and even these are different among ball pythons.
Some spots are known as “alien heads” due to their unique shape, and these markings will usually have one or two spots in the middle of them, commonly known as “blushing.”
There are also oval spots called “keyholes” because they usually feature a contrasting spot in the middle.
Stripes are also seen in ball pythons, with some morphs like the Spider having very thin lines.
By contrast, some morphs such as the Pewter or Pinstripe have a thick stripe running along the length of their spine.
The most interesting markings found in ball pythons are those of the Piebald morph.
Piebalds have the normal patterning of a regular ball python, but thick bands of pale cream break up the pattern.
The appearance is as if someone had erased the markings on portions of the body.
The head of the snake almost always has a normal color pattern.
Leucistic ball pythons are the most unique because they are a bright white color with no pattern markings anywhere on their body.
The eye color of a normal ball python is dark black with very little light reflection, but there is a wide range of eye colors among ball python morphs.
Pastel ball pythons usually have very pale green or gold eyes, which stand out against the markings on their face.
Albino ball pythons lack normal pigments, although they have yellow spots, and their eyes are a reddish-pink color commonly found in albino animals.
Perhaps the most striking eye color is found in the Leucistic ball python morph, which has pale blue eyes.
Blue eyes may be found in other morphs very rarely, but what makes the Leucistic morph stand out is the contrast between its blue eyes and its solid white body.
As a general rule, the newer a morph is, the more expensive it will be. Once a morph has been successfully bred for several years, the price tends to become lower.
A great example of this is with a Lavender Albino, which was sold for $40,000 but is now priced around $250 because it is more common.
The price for a Pastel ball python ranges between $30-$75, with the average cost being around $50.
This is much more affordable than when the morph was first introduced, and you may be expected to pay more than $1,000.
The lower prices allow beginner ball python keepers to own this beautiful morph.
Pastels with less vibrant colors are more inexpensive than ones with vivid yellow markings.
More rare color morphs, such as the Albino or Spider, have a price range between $150-$200, and Leucistics sell for more than $1,000.
Pastel ball pythons are readily available through local breeders, reptile expos, and online breeders. You will not likely find a Pastel in a typical pet store, as they tend to only sell normal pythons.
If you are fortunate enough to live near a reptile specialty shop, they will likely have a few varieties of ball python morphs for you to choose from.
If you are looking for an extremely rare morph, a reputable online breeder will be your best option.
Captive-born and bred ball pythons are more desired than wild-caught ball pythons because they are generally more healthy and free of parasitic infections.
A reputable breeder will be able to answer all of your questions about ball pythons, and it is also best to see the snake before you purchase it whenever possible to ensure you are getting a healthy animal.
Check out our list of different ball python morphs for an amazing list with pictures included.