In our first article on the genetics of Ball Python morphology, we described dominant, co-dominant and recessive genetic types and how they combine to affect traits like color and pattern. All of the genetic mechanisms we’ve discussed to this point have been simple, meaning they deal with a single gene that’s either there or it’s not. An additional method of inheriting characteristics is through a complex genetic condition known as familial. In common terminology, this would be known as selective breeding. Depending on the Ball Python’s particular region of origin in Africa, various colors and patterns (traits) are exhibited. Selective breeding focuses on particular traits. By choosing the individuals that best represent the traits we’re trying to enhance, and breeding them to each other, we can intensify those desirable traits.
In 2007, we embarked on a project to produce our own Ball Python morph by breeding two Ringers together. A Ringer is a genetic mutation of a normal Ball Python. It differs from a normal in that it has a white ring around it’s tail, and the white ring is connected across the belly by orange scales. We wanted to develop a Ball Python with stronger banding, a cleaner pattern and brighter colors, and thought the Ringer might produce the results we were looking for. Over many generations of breeding, we have created our own morph with strong banding, reduced pattern and distinct coloration, called a Vesper Banded, and recognized by World of Ball Pythons as it’s own unique morph. We have since bred our Vesper Banded to several co-dominant morphs with beautiful results. Because banding is a familial genetic type, all of the offspring exhibit strong banding, reduced pattern and more distinctive coloring than their parents.
One of the earliest goals in breeding Ball Python morphs, in fact the “Holy Grail” of breeding at one time, was to create a white snake with blue eyes. Scientifically, this is known as a Leucistic. A Leucistic was first produced in captivity in 2002. After this initial success, many breeders attempted to create their own Leucistics by breeding two of the same co-dominant morph together. They were able to produce a variety of basically white snakes with either blue or black eyes and slight variations in color and pattern. A couple of examples of these combinations are: Fire x Fire to make a Super Fire; Mojave x Mojave to make a Blue Eyed Leucistic.
There are many other amazing morphs and combinations of morphs. Among our personal favorites is the co-dominant Coral Glow Ball Python; the recessive Piebald; and the co-dominant double morph Purple Passion (Phantom/Mojave), and the Blue and Black Eyed Lucy’s.