There is a bewildering kaleidoscope of patterns and colors in the ball python world, all springing from the Wild type, also known as a “Normal.” Because of its relative ease of care, its mostly docile nature, and its robust variety of genetics, snake breeders both amateur and professional alike are drawn to the ball python.

The ball python is the most commonly kept snake in the world. They are relatively compact snakes, with adult females averaging 3-5 feet and adult males averaging 2-3 feet. They are native to central and west Africa, and thrive in warm, tropical environments like the Philippines. However, these adaptable reptiles have made their way to every continent except Antarctica, and in Europe, it is known as the Royal Python.

So what makes the Ghi Lesser Cinnamon Pinstripe ball python so special, according to friendly expert Pitlair? First, we need to understand what a ball python morph is.

Pattern Recognition

What is a morph? Morphs are inheritable visual traits that ball pythons exhibit, such as a particular color or pattern. From the singular wild or Normal type, dozens of other morphs have emerged. Some of these are called dominant morphs, such as the spider and pinstripe morphs.

Other morphs are co-dominant, such as the pastel or Mojave, which meant that a particular python will exhibit one appearance if it has one co-dominant gene, and another so-called “super” form if it has received a matched pair from its parents.

Lastly, some morphs are recessive, which means that a snake must receive a matched gene pair from its parents before it can exhibit a visual difference. A few examples of recessive ball python morphs are axanthics, albinos, toffees, and toffinos—some of which have already been featured on Animal Scene’s pages.

Product of Good Breeding

The Ghi Lesser Cinnamon Pinstripe Python is, as its name indicates, a ball python that contains the genes for four different morphs: GHI, Lesser, Cinnamon, and Pinstripe. “Our breeding facility was the first to globally declare this combination,” explains Pitlair. “I decided not to give it a fancy new name, since there are already so many names and making a new name sometimes adds confusion to the hobby. I just want to keep it simple.”

Still, GHI Lesser Cinnamon Pinstripe Ball Python is quite a mouthful of a name. Let’s break it down. “GHI” is short for “Gotta Have It”—because snake keepers are sometimes a whimsical lot. The “Lesser” morph is a case co-dominant morph that manifests from high yellow with tan coloration to a blushed-out Mojave-type. The “Cinnamon” looks very similar to the normal type but is a rich cinnamon brown/red color compared to a normal’s black. Finally, the “Pinstripe” morph, as its name indicates, is marked by fine lines.

So how did the GHI Lesser Cinnamon Pinstripe Python come into existence? “Its parents were a Lesser GHI and a cinnamon pinstripe,” says Pitlair. “As you increase the number of morphs in a snake, the odds to hit become harder as well. 4-gene combinations are fairly common now, because 3 to 4-gene snakes are available for use to increase the probabilities.”

Beginner’s Luck

“I think that a newbie who has real interest, who has diligently done the research, and who has set the proper expectations in caring for a ball python and is committed to doing it diligently should have little problem, and should be able to enjoy the ball python as a beginner pet snake,” explains Pitlair. “This is because in general, ball pythons are not aggressive snakes. Taming them is hardly necessary, and handling is possible. Also, they stay relatively small, and are somewhat suited to the Philippine climate.”

Ideally, however, ball pythons should be kept separate from other pets. Depending on the kind of pet, ball pythons could either easily get hurt, or hurt the other pet. “Even though we would like to be able to predict how certain animals would react with one another,” Pitlair says, “ball pythons aren’t really social animals.”

Breeding ball pythons, in general, is also a relatively easy affair. First, ensure that the pair are the correct age and weight. Male snakes should be at least 1.5 years old, and females at least 2.5, although 3 years is ideal. Females should also weigh at least 1.5kg, and should be in good health.

However, like all genetics, creating new morphs or recreating existing ones is a game of probabilities. Even if you bring the pair together during the right season, they may not produce viable eggs, or any eggs at all. If the pair produces a clutch of bad eggs, you will have to wait another year to try again next season. If the eggs are viable, then incubation takes 2 months.

Although it is possible to create a python with 4, 5, or even 6 morphs, yielding new and unusual patterns and colors, this can also expose the snake to genetic defects. Each mutation brings different defects, and a breeder should be aware that certain mutations are fatal if they are bred together.

So, what drew Pitlair to the GHI Lesser Cinnamon Pinstripe, despite the difficulty in producing such a snake? “As a hobbyist breeder, this 4-gene combination ball python, as pretty as it already is, will be a foundation breeder for even more interesting and outstanding-looking ball pythons. Because GHI, Lesser, and Cinnamon can all make super forms, there is potential to make something uniquely stunning from this morph with the right combination.”

 

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s June 2018 issue.