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What Is a Leucistic Ball Python?

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  • Written By: A.M. Boyle
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2014
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The term, “leucistic” comes from the Greek word “leukos,” which means white. A leucistic ball python, therefore, refers to a ball python snake whose skin is pure white in color, with no markings or patterns. True leucistic ball pythons have blue eyes, although some leucistic ball pythons might have black eyes. Leucism is a genetic skin condition that causes reduced pigmentation in the skin. Ball pythons that are leucistic are generally bred to be that way and are usually sought after and expensive to purchase.

A ball python is a larger variety of snake, ranging in size from 3 to 5 feet (about 1 to 1.5 meters) when full grown. This type of snake generally makes a good pet because of its docile nature and reluctance to bite, especially when raised in captivity. The snake got its name because of the habit of curling into a tight ball when it senses danger. Sometimes called a “royal python,” the ball python tends to live between 20 and 30 years, although they’ve been known to live longer. This type of snake comes in a variety of color patterns and pigmentations, but one of the most desired colors for a ball python is pure white, or what is known as “leucistic.”

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Generally, the leucistic type of ball python is bred by mating certain other patterned pythons. For instance, many breeders will breed two Mojave ball pythons together in hopes of producing a leucistic ball python among the offspring. Certain types of ball pythons, when bred together, are more likely to produce a leucistic offspring than others, and determining how to breed them is something of a science. Despite the specialized breeding, the life expectancy of a leucistic ball python is about the same as any other ball pythons.

Leucism, sometimes spelled “leukism” is a condition often confused with albinism. Although similar, leucism and albinism are not the same. Leucism is actually caused by a genetic defect in the skin so that the skin itself does not properly retain pigment. Albinism is caused by an actual defect in certain pigment cells, which in turn affects the coloring of the skin. Consequently, although similar in appearance, an albino ball python is not the same as a leucisitc ball python.

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