Rainbow Python

A Rainbow Python with stunning iridescence is like nothing you have ever seen before and truly is a sight to behold.

While many people are familiar with iridescence on snakes such as the Brazilian Rainbow Boa, many don’t actually realise, that you can also get a Rainbow Python.

While there is no actual species called a Rainbow Python, there are a number of species that can reflect light to give this amazing iridescent appearance.

Is there such thing as a Rainbow Python?

Yes, there is such a thing as a Rainbow Python in the sense that Pythons can produce brilliant ‘rainbow’ sheens when their scales reflect light.

There isn’t actually a species of Rainbow Python though, like there is with Boas such as the Colombian Rainbow Boa.

When it comes to Pythons, the iridescence can be present in a number of different species. There are also a few ‘morphs’ of some species that produce an iridescent snake.

We will look at some of these different species and morphs in more detail a little later.

What makes a Rainbow appearance in a Python?

The rainbow appearance in a snake is produced the same way that a normal Rainbow is formed or the way you see a Rainbow in an oily puddle.

All of these phenomena, refract sunlight which splits the light rays into the rainbow colors that we see.

Refraction is essentially the “redirection of a wave as it passes through one medium to another.

When white light is refracted, the different colors that make up the light refract at a different angle, giving the rainbow appearance.

So, when we look at a Rainbow Boa or a Rainbow Python, we aren’t actually seeing a multi-coloured snake. We are simply seeing the light that bounces back off the snake split into different colors.

There are a number of factors that affect why some snakes produce iridescence and others don’t such as the shape of the scales and the color of the snake.

Is a Rainbow Python a species or a morph?

As mentioned before, there isn’t actually a species of Python called a Rainbow Python but there are a number of species that have iridescent scales.

These species typically have iridescent scales regardless of what color or pattern morph the snake is and ‘wild type’ specimens also have these colorful scales.

In other types of pythons, a particular morph or color/pattern variation of the snake will produce this iridescence.

However, in these morphs, you typically don’t get any kind of iridescence in the normal or ‘wild type’ animals. In this case, it is possible to breed iridescence into your snake’s offspring.

What species of Rainbow Python are there?

There are a number of different species of Python that have beautiful iridescent scales, even in their natural form.

These species include the White Lipped Python, the Boelen’s Python and the Water Python. We will look at each of these snakes in more detail.

White Lipped Python

White Lipped Rainbow Python
Image Credit: Emi Evans, via Reddit

The White Lipped Python is an amazing species of Rainbow Python that has amazing iridescent scales that become visible in direct sunlight.

The White Lipped Python is a large species of snake native to New Guinea. They are most famous for the black and white lines on their mouth which give the appearance of lips.

There are actually a number of different species of White Lipped Pythons but the most commonly known are the Northern White Lipped Python and the Southern White Lipped Python.

This amazing Rainbow Python can produce incredible iridescence when exposed to sunlight. This is even visible in wild specimens.

The Northern White Lipped Python is generally smaller, growing to around 7ft in length while the Southern White Lipped Python can reach lengths of over 9ft.

While there are many differences between both the Northern and Southern variety including color and size, both species have stunning iridescent scales.

Boelen’s Python

Boelen's Rainbow Python
Tigerpython, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Boelen’s Python is another species of Rainbow Python that forms iridescent colors when light reflects off its scales.

This is a large species of Rainbow Python that is native to the mountains of New Guinea.

These large snakes can grow to over 8ft in length and are related to species such as the Amethystine Python and the Australian Scrub Python.

They are native to the island of New Guinea where it can be found in both Papua New Guinea and Western New Guinea (part of Indonesia).  

Water Python

The Water Python is another species of Rainbow Python with iridescent scales. They are native to parts of Australia and New Guinea.

These snakes get their common name, Water Python because they are typically found in and around water. They will also look to flee into a nearby body of water if they feel threatened.

However, despite this they can also be found far from a source of water. This is particularly the case during certain times of the year.

They are a large species of Rainbow Python that typically grow to around 6-8 feet in length but can get a bit larger.

What morphs of Rainbow Python are there?

The two most popular species of Python that can produce Rainbow Python morphs are the Ball Python and the Reticulated Python.

A morph is a color or pattern mutation in a snake that is not typically found in the wild. These ‘mutations’ are bred into snakes by breeders to produce amazing looking offspring.

Rainbow Ball Python Morph

Most ball python morphs get their origins from wild caught specimens taken out of Africa. However, some morphs pop up out of the blue and simply appear in a lucky breeder’s hatchlings.

This is the case with the Rainbow morph. It is reported that the morph began to appear in two different collections. One in the United States and the other in Europe.

It is believed that these Rainbow Boas can be traced back to some Enchi offspring that were produced by a breeder in the United States.

Rainbow Reticulated Python

Black Motley Golden Child Retic
Image Credit: Vital Exotics

The Reticulated Python is another species of snake that can produce a Rainbow Python morph. This is a popular morph in retics and is known as the Golden Child.

This is an absolutely stunning morph of Reticulated Python that can vary in how much iridescence they emit from a small shimmer to a ‘full blown rainbow’.

When you see a large fully grown Golden Child Reticulated Python with a lot of iridescence it really is a sight to behold.

This iridescence that the golden child produces can be enhanced by combining other morphs into the snake such as the Motley gene.