The Mystic Potion Ball Python morph encompasses a surprisingly wide range of variation, with some specimens with clean stripes and others specimens being more speckled.
“As hatchlings, they often have a purplish color,” says resident reptile expert Pitlair. “The Mystic Potion Ball Python has a stripe along its back, and some have dots along the side. When this morph first came out, there was nothing like it, so it was a big hit because of that.”
“In [the snake collecting] hobby, people are always combining different morphs to come up with great-looking, unique snakes. There were a lot of misses, but this morph was one that got many people interested.”
Having a Ball
Like other ball pythons, the Mystic Potion are among the smallest of all pythons, with hatchlings being about 10 inches in length. “Males are typically smaller than females,” says Pitlair. “I would say 3 ½ feet would be average.”
Caring for the Mystic Python is just like caring for any other ball python, says Pitlair. “Ball pythons are among the most docile pythons. Some individuals are more tolerant of being handled than others, but generally ball pythons don’t bite. They might even simply curl up into a tight ball when they’re frightened, or if they just don’t feel like being held. Some may be flighty when you first pick them up, but with regular handling, many individuals get used to being held.”
Pitlair feeds his ball pythons fresh, pre-killed rodents. “Ideally, it’s best to give your python dead prey, if they will take them, because this prevents the possibility of the prey fighting back and biting your snake.”
Ball pythons like Mystic Potions are clean animals that can live in most substrates or beddings. Pitlair keeps his pythons in underbed plastic tubs. Because snakes are ground animals, he recommends emphasizing floor space over height.
Gotta Breed ‘Em All
The Ball Python has its humble beginnings with a single wild type, the Normal. Out of this single type sprang over 100 different color and pattern combinations, which we call “morphs.”
For any particular combination to be considered a morph, it must look distinctly different from the Normal type. This distinctly different combination must be capable of being passed from one generation to the next, and is then known as an inheritable trait.
The Mystic Potion is one particularly prized morph, because of its significantly different appearance from other morphs, and it sometimes takes years for a breeder to produce it from its Mystic and Mojave parents. “If you’re raising them from babies, like I did, it would take about three years,” says Pitlair.
Despite its docile nature, a breeder must still exercise patience and caution when raising the Mystic Potion Ball Python. The possibility of being bitten is always present when raising snakes, although Pitlair maintains that this is no different from raising a dog or a cat.
So why breed Mystic Potion Ball Pythons in the first place? “First of all,” says Pitlair, “I personally love the way the Mystic Potion looks. Secondly, my Mystic Potion will be a great foundation when I try to produce more morphs. Hopefully I can come up with some nice looking snakes, and maybe I can be the first to come up with a new morph myself!”
This story appeared in Animal Scene’s January 2017 issue.