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What Is a Leucistic Ball Python?

By A.M. Boyle
Updated May 17, 2024
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The term, “leucistic” comes from the Greek word “leukos,” which means white. A leucistic ball python, therefore, refers to a ball python snake whose skin is pure white in color, with no markings or patterns. True leucistic ball pythons have blue eyes, although some leucistic ball pythons might have black eyes. Leucism is a genetic skin condition that causes reduced pigmentation in the skin. Ball pythons that are leucistic are generally bred to be that way and are usually sought after and expensive to purchase.

A ball python is a larger variety of snake, ranging in size from 3 to 5 feet (about 1 to 1.5 meters) when full grown. This type of snake generally makes a good pet because of its docile nature and reluctance to bite, especially when raised in captivity. The snake got its name because of the habit of curling into a tight ball when it senses danger. Sometimes called a “royal python,” the ball python tends to live between 20 and 30 years, although they’ve been known to live longer. This type of snake comes in a variety of color patterns and pigmentations, but one of the most desired colors for a ball python is pure white, or what is known as “leucistic.”

Generally, the leucistic type of ball python is bred by mating certain other patterned pythons. For instance, many breeders will breed two Mojave ball pythons together in hopes of producing a leucistic ball python among the offspring. Certain types of ball pythons, when bred together, are more likely to produce a leucistic offspring than others, and determining how to breed them is something of a science. Despite the specialized breeding, the life expectancy of a leucistic ball python is about the same as any other ball pythons.

Leucism, sometimes spelled “leukism” is a condition often confused with albinism. Although similar, leucism and albinism are not the same. Leucism is actually caused by a genetic defect in the skin so that the skin itself does not properly retain pigment. Albinism is caused by an actual defect in certain pigment cells, which in turn affects the coloring of the skin. Consequently, although similar in appearance, an albino ball python is not the same as a leucisitc ball python.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a leucistic ball python?

A leucistic ball python is a rare genetic variant of the common ball python that exhibits an almost entirely white appearance. This is due to a recessive genetic mutation that reduces pigmentation, resulting in a snake with smooth, creamy white scales and typically blue eyes, distinguishing it from albinos, which have red eyes.

How does leucism differ from albinism in ball pythons?

Leucism is characterized by a reduction in all types of skin pigment, not just melanin, which results in a white or pale snake. Albinism, on the other hand, specifically affects melanin production, leading to a lack of black pigment. Albinos often have some color and red or pink eyes, while leucistic snakes are usually pure white with blue eyes.

Are leucistic ball pythons rare, and how does this affect their price?

Leucistic ball pythons are indeed rare due to the specific genetic combination required to produce the leucistic trait. This rarity often translates into a higher price in the pet trade, with leucistic ball pythons typically costing several hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the breeder and the snake's specific characteristics.

Can leucistic ball pythons see and eat normally?

Leucistic ball pythons generally have normal vision and eating habits. Their leucism does not typically affect their physical abilities or health, although it's essential to provide them with proper care and nutrition, as with any ball python, to ensure they thrive in captivity.

Is special care required for leucistic ball pythons compared to normal ball pythons?

Leucistic ball pythons require the same level of care as normal ball pythons. This includes maintaining appropriate temperature gradients, humidity levels, and providing suitable hiding spots within their enclosure. However, their light coloration may make them more sensitive to dirt and waste, so regular enclosure cleaning is crucial to maintain their pristine appearance.

How can I ensure that I'm purchasing a healthy leucistic ball python?

To ensure you're purchasing a healthy leucistic ball python, buy from a reputable breeder who can provide detailed information about the snake's genetics, health history, and care requirements. Observe the snake's behavior, looking for active movement and a strong feeding response. A pre-purchase veterinary check can also help confirm the snake's health status.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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