Pythons are non-venomous, generally large, and can be found in Africa, Asia, and Australia.
The super ball python is one of the newest species in a long line of hybrid ball pythons, each with their own characteristic appearance and behavior. These snakes are a mix between a spherical python and a short-tailed blood python or Marble Borneo, displaying a green, black and brown pattern that is a mixture of the two species. Allegedly created in 2002 by herpetologists at New York-based Roussis Reptiles, the first official super ball python reportedly hatched in 2005.
Roussis Reptiles’ first super python ball was created by the parents of the python ball and the Borneo short-tailed python. It took three years to produce a litter of babies. This points to the genetic difficulties inherent in crossing snakes designed for commercial purposes.
Like other more established python breeds, this new line of snakes could be an improvement on their parents. According to the Roussis Reptiles website, the super ball python hybrid eats better than ball pythons, doesn’t require strict humidity controls like blood pythons, and grows faster than either of its parents. It is also capable of creating a new superball with either parent’s race, as well as with other superball cousins. He can start mating productively as early as 18 months of age.
The company that created the super ball python takes care when trying to breed the new species at home. Herpetology associations commonly recommend that microchips be implanted in hybrid species, identifying where they were created and by what kind of parents. This manipulation of genetic traits can lead to the degradation of species in the wild if captive species are released – purposefully or accidentally.
This is far from the first time that the ball python, a common pet reptile, has created a new hybrid species. This happens in nature from time to time, but not in such vast and concentrated numbers. The list of hybrid varieties is long, with as many as 56 recognized ball python hybrids and nearly the same number awaiting official recognition from established herpetology organizations.
These snakes vary greatly in appearance. A spotted ball python, for example, has patches of unpatterned pale white fur that alternate abruptly with the ball python’s iconic camouflage pattern elsewhere on its body. Others have altered coloring or patterning, such as the chalk stripe, pastel blonde, wide stripe harlequin, calico, yellow-bellied, spider, bee, mojave, minor platinum, killer bee and tin variations. Some are completely white or yellow, with or without any protective pattern.