Ball pythons, also known as royal pythons, are a popular pet for reptile and snake lovers. While ball pythons in nature tend to exhibit a fairly standard pattern of colors and markings, a genetic trait arises occasionally that produces a variation in color or marking patterns. Breeders have encouraged these traits through careful selective breeding programs to produce certain distinctive sets of characteristics, primarily with regard to colors and patterns, that are called morphs. Some examples are yellow belly, axanthic, and piebald.
The variety of morphs provide collectors and enthusiasts with many choices when selecting a ball python. Ball python morphs are generally only available from breeders and some may be difficult to find or very expensive. No agency or organization regulates the specific characteristics of the different ball python morphs, but generally, most breeders and enthusiasts use a fairly standard set of characteristics for each morph. Many morphs have variations within them, and some morphs are similar, but each morph has certain traits or sets of traits that set it aside from others. Morphs may exhibit differences in pattern, color, or both.
While not all breeders and ball python collectors agree on a comprehensive list of all ball python morphs, certain morphs are fairly well defined, though some may be known by more than one name. Yellow belly pythons exhibit a large amount of yellow coloring, particularly on their sides. Axanthic ball pythons have no yellow pigment, exhibiting mostly grey, whitish, and black colorations. Piebald ball pythons have varying amounts of white coloration, some with a very large percentage of white. Other common ball python morphs include several different pastel morphs, womas, ghosts, granites, and reduced pattern ball pythons.
Breeders are introducing new ball python morphs every year as they isolate and breed for ever more unusual or colorful patterns. Most new morphs are named by the breeder who first introduces them. Some of these morphs are extremely rare and are known from only a few individuals or are available only from one breeder. Graziani Reptiles, for example, was the first breeder to introduce a morph known as silver bullet, which is a ball python with an all over grey coloration with very few or no markings or other colors.
Some other ball python morphs are shatter patterns, spider paterns, Mojave, and leopard. These are only a few of the main types of morphs. Striped, pinstripe, spotnose, and champagne are a few of the others. Leucistic ball pythons are a morph with entirely bright white coloring but are not albinos. Many combination morphs are also known, which have characteristics of one or more of the other morphs, such as piebald leopard or leopard pastel. Double and triple combination morphs in a number of varieties are also known.