The piebald ball python, or Python regius text, is a large non-venomous snake that is a morph of the standard ball python. It is covered in irregular white blotches over at least part of its body, and can be found in both high white and low white varieties. The first one was found and killed in Ghana in 1966, and most wild piebalds can be found there, as well as in Togo, as of 2011. While popular as an imported pet, any potential piebald ball python owner should be aware of the size, breeding habits, and feeding tendencies of this breed.
These African pythons were bred by Peter Kahl in the 1990s and have since become popular exotic pets in the United States and Europe, where they are called royal pythons. The white pigmentation that exists in these types of pythons is an inherited genetic trait. When both parents are piebald, 100% of the babies will have the same unique white coloring, but in varying amounts. However, two standard ball pythons may also produce piebald babies, since the trait can be recessive.
There are two types of piebald ball pythons: high whites and low whites. The high white variety is nearly all white, with just a few patches of normal python patterning. Low whites, on the other hand, have the standard python markings over most of their bodies, with just a few white patches. Both types are equal in value. The pastel ball python has been bred with the piebald in recent years to create a piebald python morph that has lighter patterned markings, which contrast beautifully with the white areas.
These snakes are among the largest in existence, but are one of the smaller python species. They frequently grow to 5 feet (1.5 m) in length, and the females are larger and heavier than the males. Males also have smaller heads with longer spurs than those on the females. Pythons in the wild may live for 20 years or more, and those in captivity can live several years longer.
The female piebald ball python lays from two to ten eggs, which incubate for 56 days. The hatchlings are about 14 inches (36 cm) long when they emerge from their eggs. In captivity, most hatchlings survive, though, in the wild, many would likely be eaten by predators, including large mammals and birds.
There are several things a potential owner should know about the care of a piebald ball python. Since these pet reptiles are sedentary, they do not require a lot of space and can be kept in a large container or aquarium with a tight-fitting lid. Piebald ball pythons are docile and do not bite unless they feel threatened, and are called ball pythons for their tendency to curl up in a ball when they are scared. The piebald ball python feeds on small rodents, and may eat just one in a week. A pet snake can be fed rats or mice that have been killed, but imported snakes may refuse to eat for an extended period of time, since they may have been fed a different species.