Many characteristics of a snake, or any animal for that matter are defined by genetics. As with all animals, Recessive Ball Python Morphs inherit their genetics from their parents. Before we dig deeper into Recessive Ball Python Morphs, we will first explain some of the fundamental aspects of genetics.
Locus – This is the location of a gene/allele on a DNA strand.
Allele – Genes are made up of pairs of Alleles. Therefore an allele is a single gene on a given locus.
Genotype – This is the gene type at any given locus. Genes come in pairs (2 alleles) with the offspring inheriting one of the genes from their mother while the other gene comes from the father. For example, jrson can inherit a number of different versions of a gene at the locus that affects eye colour. These versions will determine the colour of the person’s eyes. 67 we take the Piebald Ball Python as an example, the snake can have two versions of the gene at the “piebald locus”. These versions are normal or pied. Note that the normal in this sense just means that the gene isn’t Pied. They can have a different mutation on another locus.
As can be seen in the image above, there are two versions of the Piebald Gene, Normal (N) and Piebald (P).
Phenotype – This refers to the physical appearance of the snake. However, it doesn’t tell us the genetic makeup of the animal as the phenotype doesn’t take into consideration the hidden genetics of the snake (e.g. recessive hets).
You can consider the Phenotype to be the Morph of the Ball Python. Therefore a normal Ball Python will have a Normal Phenotype while an Albino Ball Python will have an Albino Phenotype. However, a het Albino will have a Normal Phenotype as the physical appearance of the snake is normal.
Recessive Ball Python Genetics
Recessive Ball Python Morphs require both of the genes at a particular locus to contain the abnormality in order for the mutation to be visible. If only one of the genes at a particular locust contains the abnormality then the Ball Python will be a het for that mutation. This means that the snake will appear normal but can pass on the gene to their offspring.
The image below explains how the recessive genes are passed on from parents to their offspring. We will use the Albino morph as an example. If two Albinos are bred together all the offspring would be albino. This is because both parents only have the Albino gene to pass onto the offspring. Neither Parent contains the “normal gene” at the Albino locus.
In order to explain this a bit further we will go through what is happening in the image in more detail. As you can see about parents have two genes each at the Albino locus. As these parents are both Albino, these genes are both ‘Albino’.
Each offspring will need two genes to make up its own Albino locus. It will get these two genes by taking one from each parent. This means that there are 4 possible combinations that the offspring can receive these genes. i.e. 2 possibilities from the mother and two possibilities from the father (2×2=4). These 4 combinations are 1.3, 1.4, 2.3 and 2.4. Note 1.2 and 3.4 are not valid combinations as this would mean the genes were taken from a single parent.
If one of the parents were Albino and the other parent was het Albino then 50% of the offspring would be Albino while the remaining 50% would be het for Albino. This can be seen in the image below.
The first thing to note here is that one of the parents is only het for Albino. This means that it will have one Albino gene and one Normal gene at the Albino locus. Remember, recessive morphs will only show if both genes contain the abnormality so this combination will result in 50% of the offspring being Albinos and the other 50% will be het Albinos.
This is the result you will get if you pair an Albino with a het Albino on World of Ball Python’s Genetic Wizard.
The next combination we will look at is when both parents are het Albino. This combination will result in 25% of the offspring being Albino, while 50% will be het Albinos and the remaining 25% will be normal (do not appear albino or carry the gene to pass on).
An important concept to understand here is that 50% of the offspring will be het Albino while 25% will be Normal. However, as both hets and normal’s will look the same it is impossible to tell which ones are Albinos until without breeding them back to an Albino to see if they carry the gene.
Therefore when selling these offspring, all 3 (both hets and the normal) would be sold as 66% possible het. This is a common term used in Ball Python morphs and basically means that there is a 66% chance that the snake is one of the hets (2/3 x 100).
Below is the result from the Genetic Wizard when two het Albino’s are paired.
The final combination we will look at is when one parent is a het Albino while the other parent is Normal. This will result in 50% of the offspring being normal while the remaining 50% of them will be het Albino.
Similar to the previous example there is no way of knowing which snakes are normal and which snakes are het for Albino. Therefore all 4 snakes will be regarded as 50% possible het Albino (2/4 x 100).
Below is the result from the Genetic Wizard when a het Albino’s is paired with a normal.
Now that you have learned a bit about Recessive Ball Python Morphs, check out our Ball Python care sheet for more general information about this wonderful snake.
Albino Ball Python Morph
The Albino Ball Python was one of the first Recessive Ball Python morphs. It was introduced into the reptile hobby in the early 1990’s and is largely credited for the popularity of Ball Python morphs today.
Albinos are generally yellow in colour with a white background colour and they have very characteristic pink eyes. There are a few different varieties of Albino and some aren’t compatible to produce more Albinos, meaning they are effectively different morphs.
The Albino is essentially an amelanistic snake, meaning it lacks a chemical called melanin. Melanin is a naturally occurring chemical in the body. It is the chemical that darkens our skin when we get a sun tan.
Axanthic Ball Python Morph
The Axanthic Ball Python is a colour morph. These snakes will have the same patterning as a normal Ball Python but they lack red or yellow pigment, or sometimes both.
The Axanthic Ball Python is generally black while their blotches are varying shades of grey. The Axanthic Ball Python is a recessive morph while the Red Axanthic is a co-dominant morph.
There is a lot of confusion around the Red Axanthic and the het Red Axanthic. As this is a co-dominant morph, the het is a visible morph while the Red Axanthic is the super form of the morph.
Caramel Albino Morph
The Caramel Albino Ball Python is a colour mutation. These snakes are Xanthic, meaning they have yellow pigment. This results in a yellowish caramel coloured snake, hence their name.
This snake is basically the opposite of the “normal” Albino. The Carmel Albino has a functional tyrosinase, an enzyme responsible for the production of melanin. However, the normal Albino is completely lacking this enzyme. That is the reason you may hear the Caramel Albino referred to as T+ while the normal Albino is often referred to as T-.
Clown Ball Python Morph
The Clown Ball Python morph is both a colour and pattern mutation. This morph has a dark wide strip along its dorsal. The pattern along the snakes body can vary but they generally have a lot of patterning on their head.
The colour intensity of a Clown can vary but they are generally light brown to tan in colour with darker brown or black markings. The contrast and ‘boldness’ of their markings are more intense than with other morphs. This is why they are so commonly used in breeding projects.
It has been reported that the first Clown Ball Python that was imported from the wild had a small dark marking under each eye. This was comparable to a clowns face paint, hence the morph was called the Clown.
Genetic Stripe Morph
The Genetic Stripe Ball Python has a full dorsal stripe that is generally lighter in colour than the rest of the snake’s body. This stripe has a dark band of scales running along either side of the stripe.
The stripe can have breaks in it, but the most sought after morphs will have a full unbroken stripe. The background colour is generally patternless or greatly reduced patterning.
Ghost Ball Python Morph
The Ghost Ball Python, also known as a Hypo is Hypomelanistic. This means that they have a reduction of black pigmentation. They are often described as having the appearance of a snake that is in shed.
There is a number of different genetic lines of Ghost Ball Python but they all have the same characteristics. They can come in various colours but these colours appear faded and usually have grey colouration to their scales.
The first Ghost was produced by NERD in 1994. However, since then there have been a number of different lines of Ghost produced, including the Orange, Green and BEL lines. Many of these Ghost lines are compatible when bred together.
Piebald Ball Python Morph
The Piebald Ball Python is a stunning morph. The snake has a white base colour with “normal” blotches spread randomly along its body. These blotches can vary in size and shape with some specimens being mainly normal while others are mainly white.