Thanks to their striking pattern and reputation as one of the “gentle giants” of the reptile world, the Burmese python is one of the most popular large snakes on the planet. Aside from their colossal size of up to 23 feet though, it’s the instantly recognizable brown and tan appearance that makes this snake so beautiful in the eyes of owners and breeders, who often look to reproduce this pattern indefinitely by combining various morphs.
A Burmese python morph – or a snake morph in general – refers to a snake with a genetic mutation that causes its appearance to differ from the norm, so unlike the original ‘base’ tan and dark colors of a Burmese python, a morph may display a far lighter color combo in the case of an Albino morph and some snake morphs will even carry a genetic mutation that affects size in the case of a Dwarf Burmese python!
While the Burmese python may not have as many color morphs in its repertoire as say the Ball python species, there are still plenty of interesting varieties of Burmese python and many unique possibilities for breeders. To learn more about Burmese python morphs and which are most popular, read our brief guide below.
- How Many Burmese Python Morphs are There?
- 15 Burmese Python Morphs
- Labyrinth Burmese Python
- Albino Burmese Python
- Caramel Burmese Python
- Pied Burmese Python
- Hypo Burmese Python
- Granite Burmese Python
- Dwarf Burmese Python
- Patternless Burmese Python
- Butterscotch Burmese Python
- Smoke Burmese Python
- Pinstripe Burmese Python
- Champagne Burmese Python
- Butter Burmese Python
- Fader Burmese Python
- Scaleless Burmese Python
- Advantages and Disadvantages of Burmese Python Morphs
- Burmese Python Morphs Facts
How Many Burmese Python Morphs are There?
There are currently around 22 morphs of the Burmese python. Out of these morphs, there are approximately 18 morphs that are genetically proven, and there are 4 morphs that deviate from the other stand-alone morphs. These 4 Burmese python breeds vary from the “normal” phenotype of base Burmese pythons – in other words, they often display a very subtle color or pattern change i.e. thicker pattern lines compared with the traditional Burmese python.
The 18 morphs that are currently recognized are:
- Silverside Butterscotch
Most of the above-mentioned morphs are hugely popular with breeders, which we’ll look at in detail below.
15 Burmese Python Morphs
Labyrinth Burmese Python
Many Burmese python morphs have intricate markings, but the Labyrinth Burmese python is named so because its pattern is almost maze-like in its appearance.
The tan or light orange body of a Labyrinth Burmese python morph is covered from head to tail in inter-weaving stripes and bands of black that break off and join together to create the hypnotic effect of a complex and mysterious maze. These maze formations can look striking in high contrast colors or beautifully subtle in lighter shade morphs.
Albino Burmese Python
The Albino Burmese python morph is not entirely without pigmentation as you might expect from an Albino species. Though the color and pattern visibility is significantly dialed down from the original Burmese python.
Albino morphs are born with fairly bright orange blotches, often accompanied by lighter orange or yellow stripes that run along their dorsal (back) and sides. It’s only once the Albino Burmese python ages that these colorful blotches and stripes begin to fade into a translucent white shade.
Caramel Burmese Python
Caramel Burmese python morphs are named so because their scales entirely lack the bold black color of traditional Burmese pythons – leaving behind a softer, low contrast combo of gorgeously rich brown and buttery tan shades that put you in mind of the sugary treat.
In this sense, Caramel morphs are a form of albinism, but unlike Albinos, Caramels start out as light subtle colored hatchlings and grow to have brighter and bolder blotches of light brown and tan as they age.
Pied Burmese Python
The Pied or “Piebald” morph of Burmese python gets its name from the pigmentation anomaly Piebaldism – a genetic trait that prevents 100 percent of a snake’s color from appearing, which is why Pied morphs like the Burmese have the unique and odd appearance of large sections of white along their body where the full pattern should be.
These white sections can cover as little as 10 percent or as much as 90 percent of the body, and the whiter, the rarer these are.
Hypo Burmese Python
The “Hypo” in Hypo Burmese python morph is short for Hypomelanistic, meaning that these snakes have a reduction in the black pigmentation (melanin). With the black pigment reduced in its pattern, the colors of the Hypo Burmese python morph can appear softer or vividly bright depending on which of the other morphs it is bred with.
Through cross-breeding with other morphs on this list, the Hypo Burmese may produce toned-down grey hues or bright oranges and yellows with more distinctive markings.
Granite Burmese Python
No, this doesn’t mean their normally smooth and silky scales feel like rough rock to the touch – the Granite Burmese python morph is named so because it has the speckled appearance of a granite worktop, like the type you might find on a kitchen or bathroom surface!
Instead of the wide banding and large blotches in the traditional Burmese python pattern, the Granite morphs pattern is in tighter clusters of speckles and spots, which make for very pretty morph varieties.
Dwarf Burmese Python
Though this morph will not offer the advantage of a unique color or pattern variation, the dwarf Burmese python is a hugely popular morph because it gives owners the chance to care for a much smaller and more manageable snake – the dwarf variety will grow to a far more beginner-friendly size of around 5 to 7 feet in length.
Perfect for fans of Burmese pythons that perhaps don’t have the space (or experience) to care for a regular 23-foot long Burmese python!
Patternless Burmese Python
As their name suggests, the Patternless Burmese python morph tends not to display the traditional Burmese python pattern in their adult form. Though juveniles will retain a faint hint of the original pattern formation, this soon changes to an overall brown or green color as they mature.
Patternless morphs are also referred to as “Greens” since this is the uniform color they typically change to as they age – shades of green can range from light khaki green to dark olive tones.
Butterscotch Burmese Python
As you can probably guess, the beautiful Butterscotch Burmese python morph has a color combination that is reminiscent of the sweet childhood candy. In place of the original Burmese dark brown and tan colors are shades of warm yellow, vanilla, and beige.
Another form of the Butterscotch is the Silverside Butterscotch morph which displays the same overall appearance but with a beautiful silver sheen on the sides – which gives their scales a shimmery and almost sparkling appearance in certain lights!
Smoke Burmese Python
Still a relatively new variety, the Smoke Burmese python is a stunning morph produced by James Freeborn in Germany.
This lightly colored morph is named so because of its unique faded appearance that gives the impression of a haze of smoke, beginning in a pattern formation at its head with the faint pink or orange pattern cluster disappearing and reappearing along the length of its body. Because of their unique look and new design, the Smoke Burmese python is a very expensive variety.
Pinstripe Burmese Python
Instead of obeying by the traditional Burmese python pattern formation of blotches and borders, the Pinstripe morph or “Pin” as its sometimes affectionately known in the snake community, features long and thin continuous stripes along its dorsal side. This continual stripe highlights the brighter white and yellow colors against their tan or dark brown body.
These striking markings have made the Pin morph hugely popular over the years, due to creating such high contrast markings and vivid pinstripe colors when bred.
Champagne Burmese Python
Quite like the real bottle of fizz it is named after, this morph can be pretty expensive thanks to its gorgeous and highly sought-after color combo.
The Champagne Burmese python morph is characterized by its bright tan patches and starkly contrasted white border which makes the tan and darker shades stand out quite beautifully. Their undersides are almost completely white or cream and the bright white patches could be seen as the bubbles rising to the top of the Champagne!
Butter Burmese Python
Not to be confused with the Butterscotch, this Butter Burmese python morph is named so due to its soft and subtle yellow markings. On Butter morphs, the usual Burmese python marking is not as strongly defined by dark blotches or dark brown outlines, so instead, they have a light cream body with slightly faded buttery tan and yellow markings so the contrast is not particularly strong.
Not much is known about this morph as Butter Burmese pythons are a relatively new morph variety.
Fader Burmese Python
As their name suggests, the Fader Burmese python morph is almost identical to the traditional Burmese python in its coloring and markings, only with a noticeably faded appearance.
Fader morphs across all snake species simply resemble a dialed down version of their original form, and a with a Fader Burmese python, the head and body is a noticeably lighter shade of tan. The markings also appear to have dissolved in places along the dorsal, almost like the effect of well-worn denim.
Scaleless Burmese Python
This morph has the very unique appearance and texture of a snake without scales! The Scaleless Burmese python morph possesses a genetic mutation that replaces its dermal outermost layer with a thinner keratin layer, giving it a wrinkly appearance.
Without their extra layer of scales, the traditional Burmese colors and pattern formations are even more striking than usual too! Despite their name and appearance, they are not entirely scaleless – they actually have ventral scales along their belly to help aid their movement.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Burmese Python Morphs
Regular Burmese pythons are great pets, but reptile enthusiasts seek specialized ‘morphs’ for their unique colors and patterns. Are morphs better than normal Burmese pythons? I’ll explain their pros and cons, helping you decide if a morph fits your needs.
Advantages of Burmese Python Morphs
- Unique appearance – Morphs have a unique appearance, displaying vivid colors and patterns not seen in normal Burms. Owning a rare, eye-catching snake can be highly rewarding.
- Increased value – Some rare morphs can be valuable, selling for thousands of dollars. Buying one could be a good investment for breeding purposes.
Disadvantages of Burmese Python Morphs
- Higher purchase price – Rare designer morphs have a high purchase price, often exceeding $10,000, while even the more common morphs are much more expensive than standard Burms.
- Unknown genetic issues – Some morphs are prone to health problems, including neurological issues and shorter lifespans. It’s important to research these issues thoroughly before purchasing.
- Unethical breeding – Many rare morphs are a result of irresponsible breeding practices, which often lead to health and behavioral problems in the snakes.
Burmese Python Morphs Facts
How Did They Originate?
The first Burmese python morphs appeared in the 1980s pet trade, emerging from random genetic mutations. Breeders selectively bred snakes with unusual traits to stabilize and improve their color and pattern mutations.
Are Morphs Less Healthy Than Normal Birms?
Controversially, data indicates that morphs often have shorter lifespans and higher illness rates, likely due to intensive inbreeding. However, reputable breeders are working hard to create healthier bloodlines through careful outcrossing.
With proper care, most morphs, like regular Burmese pythons, live about 15-20 years on average. Remember, some morphs are particularly robust. Always research before buying!
Why Are Morphs So Expensive?
Many Burm morphs have high prices, ranging from $1,000 to over $10,000. This is due to two main reasons:
- Rarity – Traits like albino scales are uncommon, with only a few babies inheriting these genes.
- Breeding Difficulty – Successfully breeding for traits like these without causing health issues requires expert knowledge and effort.
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