California is known for many things. Tinseltown, Silicon Valley, and having the distinction of being the fifth-largest economy in the world. As far as reptile enthusiasts are concerned, California also lends its name to a certain subspecies of snakes. We’re talking about the California kingsnake morphs.
California kingsnake morphs belong to the morph family of snakes. They are cute animals known for their vibrant colors and big personalities. It’s a rather large family though with over 50 morphs that nature came up with on its own. Not to mention the designer morphs that breeders churn out and produce all the time.
California kingsnake morphs can be found not just in California, but along the western frontiers from Oregon to Utah, Arizona, and Mexico. First, we’ll take a bird’s eye view of the most common morphs that belong to this family then get into detail about what makes each morph stand out.
How Many California Kingsnake Morphs are There?
To say that these morphs are ubiquitous is a gross understatement. Still, snake lovers can’t seem to get enough of the 50 plus California kingsnake morphs that occur naturally on the western side of the country so they go and breed more.
Why would they do that? I hear you ask. Well, the answer is simple. For the same reason dog lovers come up with a new breed of designer dogs every day. People get bored easily with what they have and want something novel to add a spark of joy to their lives. That said, here are the best known California kingsnake morphs
- Coral ghost Morph
- Chocolate ghost Morph
- Mosaic Palomar ghost Morph
- Pinstriped Morph
- Lavender snow Morph
- Het Palomar ghost Morph
- Purple Passion Morph
- Reverse dotted Morph
- Vanishing stripe Morph
- Half and half Morph
- Dark phase ghost Morph
- Casper Ghost Morph
- Chocolate banana Morph
- Hypermelanistic Morph
- CB Newport Morph
- Newport-Long Beach Morph
- Aztec Morph
- Light phase ghost Morph
- Pink pearl ghost Morph
- Joker Morph
- Mosaic Morph
- Black and White striped Morph
- Newport mud Morph
- Banana Newport Morph
- Lavender Morph
- High White Morph
- Chocolate Black Newport Morph
- Palomar ghost Morph
- Twin striped Morph
- Reverse Stripe Morph
- Charcoal black Morph
- Whittier mud Morph
- Mojave 50/50 Morph
- Whittier unicolor Morph
- Albino Morph
- Sapphire ghost Morph
- Platinum Morph
- Scrambled banded Newport Morph
- Mocha Morph
- Lavender albino Morph
- Chocolate Morph
- Twin dotted Morph
- Carpet Morph
- Corwin Hypo Morph
- Merker Hypo Morph
- High Yellow Banana Morph
- Reverse wide stripe Morph
- Whitewater Hypo Morph
- Blizzard Morph
- Blue-eyed blond Morph
- Whittier Morph
That’s a lot, right? Not if you love California kingsnake morphs. This overwhelming diversity of morphs of all shapes, colors, and patterns isn’t enough for some people. This is why more and more morphs keep cropping up. The new breeds, to be fair, have more striking colors.
So you might one want to check the designer morphs if you’re planning on adapting the California kingsnake morphs. They’re easy to care for and don’t make a fuss about their food the way other high-maintenance pets do.
13 California Kingsnake Morphs
Talking about 50+ morphs is not ideal for a light-hearted yet informative article. And I worry you might fall asleep before you reach morph number 10 on the list. So instead we’ll break the morphs down by category. Each category has all the morphs that share the same color grouped under it.
When it comes to morphs, they all have the same personality and habits. They eat almost the same food and don’t bite once they get to know you better. As they get older their personality and vivid character blossom. This means that for the most part, only color and design patterns on their skins are what sets them apart.
Reverse Stripe California Kingsnake
This is an interesting morph. And it begs the question, how can you have a reverse stripe? A stripe is just a long and thin line so how can you reverse it? This is what gives this type of morphs its distinct feature.
Basically, it’s the unique color patterns on the back of this morph that gives it the appearance of having negative colors. Let me try to paint a more colorful picture to you to give these morphs their due right. They fall under the black and white sub-category of kingsnake morphs which means they only have two colors.
There’s a stripe that runs along the back of the snake from head to tail. Someone assumed that the original color of the snake was light so the dark stripe is in a way a negative reflection or an absence of the true color of the morph. Hence, the reverse stripe characterization. Reverse stripe morphs are easy to handle and a delight to observe in their daily lives even while they’re sleeping.
Chocolate California Kingsnake
Who doesn’t like chocolate, right? Chocolate morphs truly deserve that name. They have a uniform brown color that covers every inch of their slender bodies. This a morph that is the product of nature rather than man-made. And the reason these snakes have a single dark color is for survival purposes.
Unlike what many people think, snakes are peaceful animals that prefer to stay away from people and populated areas. And since they don’t have many defenses available and can’t move fast enough to get out of danger, they resort to hiding. Brown is pretty much the color of the desert in the evenings and night. That’s when these morphs get active. They’re nocturnal animals and having a dark color is the best camouflage that hides them from predators and prey alike.
So what makes chocolate morphs popular? They lack patterns and vivid colors that distinguish other morphs. It’s the scales of the snake that reflect the light in myriad ways and give the impression that morph is glowing or sparkling as it slithers away.
Coastal California Kingsnake and Desert Phase California Kingsnake
Not all morphs are made equal. Some have vivacious colors, striking patterns, and more outgoing characters than others. The coastal and desert phase morphs take their place somewhere in the middle of the scale. They’re not particularly eye-catching but they’re not dull and uninteresting either.
These two morphs are pretty much similar which is why we squeezed them together under one subheader. They have two colors mainly. The first is black or brown and is the dominant color. It covers their bodies like paint stains. It’s like the painter picked the brush and went to work on the snake while he was drunk. Blotches of paint here and there and just about everywhere.
Then there’s the lighter color. It can either be white or yellow. It peaks shyly from under the dark stains. But the color combination is striking and breathtaking, to say the least. These morphs give you the impression they just had a tour in Afghanistan with the Seals and just got back in fatigues and all. That doesn’t mean they’re aggressive. Far from it. They just look like they’re about to go on a secret mission in the jungle.
Reverse Dotted California Kingsnake
If you have been following so far you undoubtedly have noticed a pattern. Some morphs get a design, others get the exact same design but in contrasting colors. They look like the negative version of the first morphs. So immediately people start calling them the reverse morphs. It’s a quirk of snake lovers everywhere, we don’t judge.
The reverse dotted morphs are just breeds with dotted spots on their back. So why aren’t they being called dotted morphs? You guessed it. There are already dotted morphs but these reverse dotted ones are the negative color patterns of them. Again, we don’t judge. But maybe those who come up with names for morphs could be a little creative and imaginative.
The one thing about reverse dotted morphs though is that they’re quite rare. You won’t stumble into one if you take a leisurely stroll in the desert or mountains. They’re that rare that only a handful of breeders would have them. Also not any two reverse dotted morphs are alike. The dots vary and change from one to the next and sometimes the dots are too large to be called dots at all.
Vanishing Stripe California Kingsnake
People watch their pets with so much curiosity and interest, that they always like to find some distinct feature that sets their morph apart from their neighbor’s. It’s like if you both have an identical morph that somehow makes your snake less significant or unique. This is why there are so many distinct morph categories based solely on the colors, patterns, and the way the morph glows under the light.
The vanishing stripe morph is one of those morphs that some owner watched closely to try to prove that it’s different from the other morphs in the neighborhood. And they found that difference. It’s in the way the stripes on the back and sides of the morph tend to taper off and disappear altogether.
Since the stripes are lighter color than the background, the morph will have the appearance of a futuristic reptile in the right light. They are fun to watch and play with. And apart from this unique color pattern, they’re just like any other morph.
High White California Kingsnake and High Yellow California Kingsnake
It doesn’t get any more colorful as that as far as California kingsnake morphs are concerned. Nature didn’t make these ones, however. Credit goes to breeders who painstakingly kept mixing morphs until they got these bright colors that are a joy to watch and hold.
The color pattern here is a mix of yellow and black. The dominant color is yellow with black marks streaking through the body of the morph. Does that remind you of something? It’s the banana of course. You know how healthy bananas have black spots or short dashes on them? It’s a sign this banana is ripe and yum. This is why these morphs are sometimes called banana morphs.
The marks on these morphs are usually around the head area. As for the high white morphs, their body is usually white with the black marks appearing here and there. They make for delightful pets to care for and cuddle. The light color is striking and children love to pet them.
Reverse Wide Stripe California Kingsnake
Another reverse morph that seems to mirror the wide stripe morph but using contrast colors. The dominant color here is black while the patterns appear in yellow on the sides and underbelly of the morph.
So one can describe this morph as having one large black stripe that covers the top of its body totally from head to tail. And occasionally yellow or white patches will appear on the side to cut that color block and add some dynamisms to the overall look of the morph. Does that make it easier for you to picture? I sincerely hope so.
Reverse wide stripes are fun morphs to have and even breed if you’re into that sort of thing. They don’t cost much to own since they’re quite common and caring for them is straightforward and rather easy. Not all morphs in this category have visible light color patterns on their sides. So it’s easy to mistake them for chocolate morphs. You’ll need to look at the underbelly of the morph to find the light patches.
Mosaic California Kingsnake
This morph is similar to the reverse wide stripe. Its back is covered with a block of color while the sides go wild with an explosion of patterns. As such there’s no dull moment with these morphs. You can sit and watch them for hours. And every time you stare at them you’ll find some new detail about their patterns that you haven’t noticed before.
Luckily, mosaic morphs are not shy or socially awkward so they won’t feel uncomfortable if you stare at them. They like the attention and enjoy the company of humans. When you get familiar with the mosaic morph and it lets you play with it, you can flip it over to get a look at its underbelly.
The patterns here are less wild but they are a delight to watch too. They’re like checkers but look neat especially as the snake coils and uncoils its body. All in all they’re photogenic pets and you can snap as many pics as you like of them.
Palomar Ghost California Kingsnake
This morph gets its name from the unusual mixture of white and yellow patterns. Sometimes the yellow fades into white or appears like it doesn’t exist at all. Does that make them look a little weird or uncanny? No doubt about it. But does it reflect on their personality or daily habits? None whatsoever.
If you are into that sort of thing and prefer to add a touch of the macabre to your daily life, the palomar ghost is the right choice of all the California kingsnake morphs. It’s just a color pattern like we said, But when you spot the snake slithering away in your peripheral vision, it sure will send shivers down your spine.
This morph is very popular around Halloween. Just wrap it around your neck and it will make the most mundane costume look outlandish and exotic like you’ve just walked out of a horror movie set.
Twin Striped and Dotted California Kingsnake
It’s not clear whether these morphs are a pure breed or a mixture of morphs that happened naturally when two different morphs met one night and decided to have a go at it. But the result was the twin striped and dotted morphs. They have their backs covered with long stripes with the sides having a different pattern.
To complicate things further and make it even more difficult for us to describe them, some of these morphs might not have any patterns on their sides. Not a single dot or a single stripe to cut through the block of color. So it is easy to get your morphs mixed up. You might go home thinking you have a wide stripe morph only to discover it’s actually a twin striped and dotted morph that was just too young to show its colors and patterns in full.
Hypermelanistic California Kingsnake
The final morph we’re going to talk about here is the hypermelanistic morph. If you have seen a tiger up close (from behind a cage of course) and was struck with the intricate color designs on its face and body, the hypermelanistic morph is the closest you can get to mimicking those tiger-like patterns.
Apart from the striking patterns, the colors themselves are exceptionally rich and have deeper hues than other morphs. You get the sense these colors are almost metallic. They shine brighter and turn the morph into a glowing ball of colors if you shine the right light on them.
That said, and despite the animalistic patterns and extraordinary colors, the hypermelanistic morphs remain as real and down to earth as the next morph. They don’t feed on rainbows nor do they drink sparkling wine to maintain their good looks.