Ball Pythons are one of the most popular pet snakes in the United States and are some of the most interesting snakes in the world, but what is a spider ball python? I thought you might want to hear a few facts about the spider ball python, which is a super neat ball python morph.
What is a Spider Ball Python?
There are a lot of cool facts about spider ball pythons, but before we start listing them off, it might be nice to know what a ball python is and how it relates to other ball pythons.
A spider ball python is a Morph of the very common snake, the ball python. As a morph, it means that spider ball pythons have a different genetic pattern than that of a ball python that is caught in the wild.
Almost all snakes have morphs but some, like the ball python, have more morphs than others. The spider ball python is a unique morph because it is one of the very first morphs for ball pythons that were bred and sold here in the United States.
They are often sought after for their incredibly beautiful and different patterns and their quote-unquote “cute wobble.”
#1: Spider Ball Pythons Have a Unique Pattern
So, what do spider ball pythons look like? Well, they have a very special pattern that effects mostly their tails and heads. The dorsal markings on a spider ball python’s tail are considered to be ropey and almost droopy.
This makes them unique compared to other ball pythons who have a more spotted look. On their heads, spider ball pythons have a stamp that makes them instantly recognizable and very sought after.
#2: Spider Ball Pythons Have a Head Wobble
Spider ball pythons have a genetic disorder of sorts that is called a head wobble. It is mostly unique to the spider ball python although a few other morphs have been seen having it.
It is a dominant trait as far as can be discovered because all spider ball pythons have it, but it is a complicated gene because it is not spread to other morphs easily.
The spider ball python head wobble has two main looks or descriptions. The first is the side to side movement. Snake ball pythons with the head wobble are often seen shaking or moving their heads sideways back and forth. This often seems to cause the snake to become disoriented and confused.
The second form of the head wobble is called the corkscrew. This head wobble is hard to describe but it looks as if the snake is moving its head in an uncoordinated corkscrew pattern.
The best way to visualize these patterns is to watch a video of a spider ball python moving in these ways. You can look up any spider ball pythons wobbling videos to get a better visual for what I am saying.
Many people think this trait in their spider ball python is “cute” and that it makes their snake unique, but a lot of people disagree and think the continued breeding of spider ball pythons is bad and cruel.
#3: There is a Debate on Whether or N
ot It is Okay to Breed Spider Ball Pythons
This debate on the genetics of spider ball pythons is a touchy subject for snake lovers out there and is a debate that has many supporters on both sides.
There is a myth that one spider ball python was found in the wild and bred to make more spider ball pythons here in the US, but this is a myth because it has not been proven. The other idea is that this genetic makeup came from captive breeding.
We know that spider ball pythons are one of the first ball pythons morphs and as such it adds to the intensity of the argument. Below, I made a table of some the arguments for continued breeding of the spider morph and the arguments against the breeding of spider morphs.
|For Spider Ball Python |
|Against Spider Ball Python Breeding|
|Spider Ball Pythons are one of the first morphs, and as such |
we need to keep breeding them for legacy sake.
|The quality of life of the Spider |
python may be effected by this genetic defect.
|They make great pets and are very popular. ||There is no way that this breed of |
morph would be able to survive in the wild.
|Their coloring and patterns are different and unique and extremely beautiful.|| There is a rich market for other types of ball python morphs and so there is |
no good reason to continue
breeding Spider morphs.
|We have no proof that the |
head wobble of the spider ball
pythons is harmful in any way.
|They have neurological problems and are not needed. This problem could be potentially painful.|
|The wobble doesn’t interfere in any way with the spider ball |
pythons ability to eat or survive in captivity.
|Having empathy for these reptiles |
should be reason enough not to
continue breeding them.
|All Morphs are defects.||People only breed spider morphs for greed.|
|Wobblers require extra love |
and are just as worthy to live as other morphs.
|Some people don’t even know they |
are getting the spider gene in their
snake until it ages.
|They have no need to live in |
the wild and will never be
asked to, they live healthy and
long lives in captivity.
|It is not fair to breed a reptile who |
can potentially have an unhappy and stressful life.
As you can see the arguments for breeding and for not breeding are passionate and strong. I don’t have the correct answer and neither, it seems, does anyone else, so every person has to decide for themselves what they believe.
We wrote an article all about to breed ball pythons, where we give tips on how to safely breed a ball python successfully. Find the article here.
#4: Ball Pythons are Named After Their Defense Mechanism
Back to the super awesome cool things about spider ball pythons and really all ball pythons in general. Ball pythons have a unique origin and have a lot of cool little tidbits. The first is their name, ball python: where did that come from and what does it mean?
Well, ball pythons are known for being shy snakes in captivity and they happen to work the same in the wild. When a ball python is approached by a predator or becomes frightened, their defensive position is to curl up into a ball and strike from there.
This is rather particular to ball pythons and is the cause of their names. Because people began to see this uncommon snake mode of defense, they renamed the snake to be called the ball python.
#5: Ball Pythons are A
lso Called the Royal Python
Did you know that ball pythons are of royal descent? Kind of… Way, way back tidbits a few centuries ago, the ball python used to be referred to as the royal snake. They got this infamous name because African royalty used to wear these snakes as jewelry.
In fact, it is a common rumor that Cleopatra used to wear these royal snakes as well, which many find interesting because it is said that she killed herself using the poison from a snake. Maybe this old Egyptian queen really did have a thing for snakes.
Another little myth that adds to the ball python or royal python’s name is that people used to worship these snakes. This myth isn’t proved but would add another great back story to our royal snake’s heritage.
#6: Ball Python Mothers Incubate Their Eggs
Another interesting and crazy fact about ball pythons is that they incubate and protect their eggs. Most snakes in the reptile kingdom are rather disinterested in their hatchlings after they lay their eggs.
Having found a spot that is deemed safe and warm by the mother snake, she will lay her eggs and leave. Ball pythons, on the other hand, are some of the few snakes that protect their eggs until they hatch.
After laying her eggs a mother ball python will wrap her body around her eggs and, using her body contractions, will use friction to keep the eggs warm. Once a mother ball python has laid her eggs she will not move until they are hatched, going about two months without food and water.
It’s okay though, because female ball pythons normally reproduce about once every year or sometimes around every two years, so they don’t have to do this often. The clutch that the ball pythons is protection is about 10-12 eggs large. Here, you can find an article we recently wrote about how many eggs ball pythons generally lay, and out of those eggs, how many survive.
#7: Ball Pythons Have Spurs
One of my favorite facts is that aesthetically, ball pythons are beautiful. Something interesting that goes along with their pretty looks is the spurs that can be found on their underbellies.
These spurs are claw-like and can be found on the lower end of the snake. Female ball pythons’ spurs are smaller than males because males use their spurs to stimulate and position the female for reproduction.
There is an amusing myth that the spurs that are found on ball pythons, and most pythons in general, are the remnants of back legs that have been lost throughout the process of evolution.
Because it can’t be proven, there are no facts that say that the ball python used to have legs, but it is a fascinating and slightly terrifying idea that these pythons could once have run around on four legs.
#8: Ball Pythons Have a Unique “Home”
When I think of exotic snakes I often think of snakes from South America or Asia that dominate the world, but some of the coolest snakes come from a lot of different places around the world.
The ball python is a great example of this. The ball python originates from Africa and makes its home in the grasslands, on the edge of woodlands, and often in mammal burrows or hollow logs.
Their natural habitat is not very humid, like a lot of exotic snakes, but actually is arid and drier than others. When housing a ball python, they need about 50 percent humidity. We recently wrote a complete care guide all about ball python humidity. It includes how to measure and create the best humidity along with what the right temperature is, and many other things! Find it here.
#9: Ball Pythons Are Crepuscular Snakes
Most snakes are nocturnal and therefore spend most of their lives awake during the night. Although ball pythons fit into this category just like many other snakes, they are also crepuscular.
To be crepuscular means that these snakes are particularly active during dawn and dusk. Ball pythons spend most of their time underground in burrows which might add to this odd behavior. There are a few other snakes that portray this different lifestyle, but not all snakes do.
#10: Ball Pythons Are Potentially Endangered
Currently, ball pythons are not endangered or on any lists, but there are a few reasons to believe that they may become endangered sooner than later. There is quite a bit of growth happening in the regions that ball pythons inhabit that is causing destruction to their habitats.
The biggest thing that threatens ball pythons, though, is being hunted to sell. There are a lot of ball pythons that are bred in captivity that are safer to own for humans and for pythons.
When buying a ball python that was born in captivity, you don’t have to worry about diseases or temperament issues and these snakes can continue to live peacefully in their natural habitats.
#11: Ball Pythons Have I
The size of ball pythons makes them interesting predators that survive off of small mammals, but also make for being prey to interesting predators. Some of the mammals and reptiles that find ball pythons to be tasty food include:
- Larger snakes that can often prey upon the ball python.
- Birds that can swoop down and make a ball python its nightly meal
- An assortment of mammals that find ball pythons to be quite a nice meal.
- Frogs, strangely, that can find and eat baby ball pythons
- Spiders and insects that are known for harming baby ball pythons as well.
#12: Ball Pythons are Great Handling Snakes
One of the reasons that ball pythons are such popular pets is the fact that they are so easy to handle. Ball pythons are rather shy snakes and take some time to warm up to new conditions, homes, and handlers, but once they have acclimated to their new circumstances these snakes are rather docile.
If handled properly and often, ball pythons are great snakes to have and to hold. Because of this, these snakes are very popular for new snake owners and experienced alike, and they just make great pets.
#13: Ball Pythons Grow to be Rather Small Compared to Other Pythons
Ball Pythons are cool reptiles (See what I did there?) as can be inferred by the rare heritage of their names, but it isn’t just royal blood that keeps these adorable snakes on the market.
Ball pythons are just about the perfect sized snake. Getting to be about 3-5 feet long for females and 2-3 feet long for males these pythons are on the smaller end of the spectrum for snakes and are loved for it.
Many people love owning ball pythons because they are dense snakes, but because they stay smaller they are easier to handle and care for. Here, you can find an article we recently wrote all about how big ball pythons can get, where we talk about how big they can get, as well as how long it takes for them to grow full size.
#14: Ball Pythons Can Cause Injuries
Ball pythons are very docile reptiles and when handled regularly make for great pets. They tend to enjoy wrapping themselves around their owner’s arm and waists but can easily be removed when you don’t want them there.
Because these reptiles are so easy to handle and are so docile, it is sometimes forgotten that they are wild creatures and can potentially be dangerous.
Although it is quite uncommon for a ball python to attack its owner, it has happened occasionally and has caused injuries. Ball pythons are not very large and so they cannot kill a human, but their bites can be a rather annoying, if not painful, injury. Learn more about what happens when a ball python bites here, in this article we recently wrote.
So, it is always good to remember that although they are cute and easy to handle they still need to be treated with respect for the wild creatures that they are.
#15: Ball Pythons’ Unique Build
Like we have mentioned before ball pythons are known for their good looks, and while spider ball pythons have their own unique patterns and colors there is something beautiful in just the general build of all the many types of ball pythons.
Ball pythons are known for having small but very square shaped heads that lead into thick muscular bodies. They typically have dark brown skin and light brown spots. Ball pythons also have stripes on their snouts and over their eyes.
It is because of these unique traits that there are now a crazy amount of ball python morphs and one of the many reasons that they are one of the top 5 snakes to own.
How Many Types of Ball Python Morphs are There? There are a surprising amount of ball python morphs that are bred and that can be bought. The number of those morphs counts to about 6,555. meaning that someone could purchase one of 6,555 different kinds of ball pythons. Although most snakes do have morphs, the ball python certainly has more than normal.
Where Can I Buy a Spider Ball Python? There are a lot of breeders out there that breed spider ball pythons. You can always find them online and at snake expos and most of the time you can find them in retail shops.
How Long do Ball Pythons Live? Ball pythons have incredibly long lifespans and have been recorded living for more than 40 years. Typically though, Ball pythons live around 30 years, so if you are planning on getting one as a pet plan on having them for most of your life as well as theirs.