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What Is a Fire Ball Python?

By Christian Petersen
Updated Jun 04, 2024
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Ball pythons, also called royal pythons are native to Africa and are one of the most popular snake species for those who like to keep snakes and reptiles as pets. They are known for being docile and do not become as large as some of the other constrictor snakes. Breeders, using captive stock and specimens collected from the wild, have bred numerous unusual color and pattern variations in this species. A particular set of these characteristics is called a morph. A fire ball python is a type of ball python morph, distinguishable from typical pythons and other morphs primarily by its coloration.

As of 2011, hundreds of morphs of ball pythons have been introduced by breeders. Many of these morphs are combination morphs, with characteristics of two or more of the other morphs. A fire ball python, however, is a base morph, meaning that it has a distinct set of characteristics that, taken as a set, are unique.

A typical ball python has a color and pattern that are easily recognizable. A base color, typically black, is broken up by large patches of dark brown. Both of these colors can show some slight variation. The patches of brown are outlined by a thin border of a lighter brown and may contain black spots as well. The colors and pattern of a fire ball python vary substantially from the typical python.

The dark black base of a typical or "normal" ball python is replaced by a rich brown color in a fire ball python. The patches of brown are a much lighter color, usually a pale yellow. This color is somewhat variable and may show shades of gold or slightly darker yellow but are always much lighter than on a typical python. The patches on the sides may connect across the back, a condition called banding. "Blushing," which is the emergence of the lighter color within the areas of the darker base color may occur, particularly at the base of the sides and along the spine.

Collectors and breeders have created much excitement within the realm of ball python enthusiasts over this morph. This particular morph seems to cross well with many other morphs, and it has been used to create several new combination morphs. Crossing two fire ball pythons is also the only way to produce a rare and highly desirable morph, the black-eyed leucistic python. This snake is very unusual with a bright white color and red pupils set in black eyes. It is not an albino however, and these traits, in addition to its rarity, make it a very attractive to collectors.

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