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What Is a Spider Ball Python?

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  • Written By: Judith Smith Sullivan
  • Edited By: Susan Barwick
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2016
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    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
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A spider ball python is a hybrid or mutated form of ball python with specific markings. It typically has thin black lines that run horizontally on its body and a pale yellow background color. The markings are often compared to the design of a spider web. The spider ball python is not a separate species of python, simply a different color pattern. The term "ball python" refers to its method of curling up into a tight, round form when it is threatened or afraid.

In the wild, pythons are endangered. Most breeding takes place in captivity, and breeders are typically professional herpetologists who sell snakes for profit. Some other breeders are simply collectors who enjoy having snakes with different types of markings.

Spider ball pythons are very popular as pets. Males typically grow to 3 to 4 feet in length (about 90-120 cm). Females are slightly larger, growing up to 4.5 (about 137 cm) long.

Like boas, a spider ball python is a constrictor. In order to feed, it wraps its body around an animal, restricting the animal's ability to breathe, and eats it whole. Its preferred prey is small rodents, like rats and mice. During the winter, ball pythons will not feed for four to five months.

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The lifespan of a spider ball python can be long as 50 years in captivity, but they more commonly live 20-30 years. Male pythons are usually sexually mature at one year old. Females, however, are not ready to breed until they weigh at least 2.7 pounds (1200 grams), and are two years old.

Ball pythons like small close quarters. They are uncomfortable in large cages and prefer to have a hiding place to which they can retreat. They also prefer warm temperatures, typically between 85-88 degrees Fahrenheit (29.5-31 degrees Celsius), but as low as 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) during winter.

Basic genetics can predict the offspring when spider ball pythons breed. The spider ball python may be homozygous, meaning it only carries mutant genes, or heterozygous, meaning it carries both mutant and normal genes. Typically, whenever a spider ball python is bred with another snake, whether it is another spider mutation or a different variation, it will produce some percentage of spider ball mutants.

Based on the coupling, the offspring may include spider mutants, non-mutants, "normals," or "supers." Supers are offspring which exhibit the next step in mutation, typically with even paler colors and thinner black lines. Some offspring are also carriers of the mutant gene, even if they appear to be normal.

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