The only difference between the yellow belly ball python and the standard ball python is their color. You can have a yellow belly gene mixed with other colors and patterns too. Although the yellow belly ball python is not as eye-catching as some other morphs, they are quite rare. And they don’t have the controversial health issues like some genes do, such as the spider ball python’s wobble problem. Today we’ll check out how they are bred, and what this cool gene means for their welfare, temperament and lifespan. Ball pythons are one of the most popular snake species kept as pets due to their diverse coloration, non-aggressive temperament, and comparatively small size. They get their name for their tendency to coil into a ball when they feel threatened. In Europe, they’re known as royal pythons.
What is a Ball Python Morph?
A morph is a ball python that has been genetically selected for a particular coloration or pattern variation. Snake breeders isolate unusual genetic mutations to enhance their appearance, which is why there are so many different types of ball pythons.
A recessive morph like the yellow belly requires two copies of the gene for the color to emerge in the offspring.
What do Yellow Belly Ball Pythons Look Like?
Despite their name, a yellow belly ball python doesn’t necessarily have a yellow belly. Coloration and pattern can vary from one snake to the next. Some have a yellowish tint to their belly, while others have clear undersides with smooth, unmarked scales bordered by a checkered pattern where the belly meets the sides of the body. The body tends to display “flaming” coming up the sides from the belly. The head is small, and they often have a light brown crown.
How Big Are They When Full Grown?
A yellow belly ball python will reach from 3 to 5 feet and weigh about 3.5 pounds by the time they’re fully grown at approximately 18 months. Males are usually slightly smaller than females.
Is the Yellow Belly Ball Python Friendly?
Yes, like all ball pythons, the ball python is quite docile, laid back, and easy to handle after acclimation. They may see you as a threat at first, but once they become used to being handled, they’re comfortable around people, making them a good choice for first-time snake owners.
There’s no difference in temperament between males and females. However, a mother guarding her eggs can become aggressive.
Caring for your Yellow Belly Ball Python
A ball python should have a glass aquarium or plastic habitat long enough for the snake to stretch out. It requires a secure lid because snakes are good at escaping. Juvenile ball pythons will probably feel more secure in a small space. A 10-gallon enclosure 20 inches long and 10 inches wide should be the minimum size. Adult ball pythons require at least a 20-gallon or larger enclosure, measuring 24 inches long by 12 inches wide.
Newspaper or aspen shavings make good bedding, but avoid aromatic wood shavings like cedar or pine. Remove waste daily, change the bedding when it’s wet or smelly, and thoroughly clean and disinfect their domicile at least once a month. Ensure there’s adequate ventilation so condensed moisture doesn’t build up because dampness can cause mold.
Snakes in the wild have an instinct to hide, to protect themselves from predators. Pet snakes will retain the urge to conceal themselves, which is why they need some places in their habitat to hide. A good snake hide is solid all the way around and made from durable material with only a small opening for the snake to enter and exit.
Feeding your Yellow Belly Ball Python
Ball Pythons eat dead mice and small rats even when they’re young. These rodents should be no larger than the snake at its biggest circumference. Juvenile snakes are still growing and should eat weekly, whereas adults can be fed every one to two weeks. It’s not uncommon for snakes to stop eating during the winter months and while they shed.
Don’t handle your pet python for at least a day after feeding to give them time to digest their food, or they may regurgitate their meal. They should always have access to clean, fresh water.
Yellow Belly Ball Python Shedding
As they grow, ball pythons shed their skin about every four to six weeks. The first thing you’ll probably notice is that your snake’s scales look dull and loose, and their eyes may turn blue.
Pre-shedding lasts for about a week, and the complete shedding process lasts less than two weeks. The most important factors to ensure your snake has no trouble shedding is adequate humidity levels and proper hydration to keep their skin supple.
Is the Yellow Belly Ball Python Healthy?
Like all ball pythons, the yellow belly is a fairly healthy snake as long as they’re cared for and kept in an appropriate environment.
A severe, sometimes fatal respiratory disease has been found in pet ball pythons, often the result of being kept in low humidity or cool temperature atmospheres. Poor hygiene, poor nutrition, and overcrowding can also cause problems. If you think your snake has a respiratory infection, ensure his enclosure has the right temperature and humidity levels and contact a qualified reptile veterinarian.
Signs that your yellow belly ball python has a respiratory disease include:
- nasal discharge
- stringy saliva
- open-mouthed or noisy breathing
- abnormal postures
Other common health conditions that can affect yellow belly ball pythons include:
- snake mites
- shedding complications
Yellow Belly Ball Python Lifespan
A properly cared-for yellow belly ball python can live for 30 years or more. Some ball pythons have lived to be over 40, so it’s crucial to realize the commitment having one of these snakes requires.
Are you Ready for a Yellow Belly Ball Python?
The yellow belly ball python is generally easy to take care of. They’re low-maintenance and only require a small space with a calm and docile temperament. This snake will spend a lot of time hiding. However, with proper handling, they can get quite comfortable around people.
Do you have a ball python? Tell us about your snake in the comments below.
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- Rose et al. “Neurological dysfunction in a ball python (Python regius) colour morph and implications for welfare.” Journal of Exotic Pet Medicine, July 2014.
- Stenglein et al. “Ball Python Nidovirus: a Candidate Etiologic Agent for Severe Respiratory Disease in Python regius.” mBio, 2014.
- deVosjoli et al. “The Ball Python Manual.” Herpetocultural Library.