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What Is a Ghost Ball Python?

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  • Written By: Christina Whyte
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Images By: Ruslan Olinchuk, n/a
  • Last Modified Date: 30 November 2016
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A ghost ball python, also known as hypo or hypomelanistic, is a ball python with a color morph that reduces the black pigmentation of the snake. Morphs refer to distinct genetic variations within a species in terms of pattern and/or color. Ball pythons, also known as royal pythons, grow to around 4 feet (1.2 meters), and can live for several decades. They are commonly kept as pets because they are docile snakes that enjoy being handled, are relatively easy to take care of, and are available in many attractive colors and patterns.

People who want a ghost ball python as a pet should buy it from a reputable breeder in order to protect the population of wild royal pythons in their native Africa and to avoid problems associated with keeping wild snakes. Wild caught ball pythons often resist eating the recommended food, pre-killed thawed frozen rats, and sometimes will not eat at all for dangerous lengths of time. Captive bred snakes that have been reared on this food are the best choice. It is also usually only possible to find a particular morph, such as hypomelanistic, in captive bred snakes.

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Demand for snakes with interesting and different patterns and colors has prompted the development of a very wide variety of ball python morphs through selective breeding. These are known as designer morphs. Many other morphs are created using ghost ball python genetics in breeding programs, such as the Spider Ghost, which has a distinctive spider pattern with ghost colors. Some breeders have very complex breeding programs and produce extremely unique looking snakes with lengthy morph names like the Orange Ghost Super Pastel.

One distinctive feature of a true ghost ball python is that the snake's shed skin will always be clear. A ghost ball python will constantly look like it is in shed, giving the snake a hazy appearance. The areas of the snake's pattern that would be black in a normal or wild snake are instead shades of brown, grey and yellow, and can even be purplish or greenish in hue.

All pet snakes have specific requirements in terms of housing, feeding, and care in order to keep the snake healthy and happy. Pet ghost ball python owners should ensure that they purchase a suitable vivarium to house the snake, one that is specifically made for housing snakes and is escape-proof, since ball pythons are adept at escaping. The vivarium also needs to have the right temperature gradient, correct humidity, and appropriate furnishings.

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