Ball pythons are one of the most popular types of pet snake in the world and their intricate pattern and rich colors have prompted snake breeders to create a multitude of python morphs in recent decades with every possible color variation. Not including the various subspecies of these morphs, there are currently 26 different primary morphs of ball python, and a much-loved morph of ball python breeders is the Lesser ball python.
A Lesser ball python (previously known as the ‘Lesser Platinum’ ball python) is a base morph snake with a chocolate brown and yellow body that can sometimes appear tan or orange in some types. These beautiful pythons are referred to as ‘lesser’ because their colors are not as vivid and on close inspection, you will see that their bodies have areas of ‘blushing’ where the color has faded in patches along the spine or the sides.
Because they are a base morph snake, the Lesser ball python is a common breeding tool for designer breeders looking to retain the ball python pattern but enhance the appearance – when bred with other morphs, the Lesser ball python’s offspring will exhibit intensified brown, yellow and tan colors and the blush effect along their bodies will appear more noticeable. If you’re looking to learn more about the beautiful Lesser ball pythons, check out our brief guide below.
Are Lesser Ball Pythons Dangerous?
No, Lesser ball pythons are not considered to be dangerous. Although they can bite in response to feeling threatened or scared by aggressive handling, their bite is not venomous and is unlikely to cause any harm beyond a few drops of blood.
For young children or people new to snake handling, a bite may come as an unpleasant shock, so it can help to be prepared in case your ball python bites a child for instance.
Also, since the Lesser ball python only grows as large as between 3 and 5 feet and is fairly docile, it will thankfully not pose the threat of other larger constricting snakes.
A good way to make sure your Lesser ball python will be on its best behavior is to socialize it well as a baby snake. Ball pythons typically respond well to being handled by strangers as they age if they have had early exposure to it.
How Much Do Lesser Ball Pythons Cost?
While it’s believed that early captive breeds of Lesser ball pythons were priced at around $30,000, they are much more affordable today, typically costing between as little as $50 and $100 each.
Of course, designer morphs of the Lesser ball python that enhance their color pattern in rare and exotic variations will go for significantly higher prices, possibly in the thousands.
If you are ready to take home a Lesser ball python as a pet, always make sure you get a young, captive-bred snake from a trusted breeder. It helps to do a little research beforehand to make sure you are buying a healthy snake.
A healthy lesser ball python should have a well-rounded body, clean eyes and show no signs of respiratory issues such as wheezing sounds or bubbles around their nostrils. You could also ask the breeder you buy from for a feeding demonstration to get to know your snake’s temperament a little better.
How Big Does a Lesser Ball Python Get?
Lesser ball pythons can grow between 3 and 5 feet, but they can grow to a maximum length of around 72 inches (almost 6 feet long). They will normally reach their full adult size once they reach maturity at around 2 to 3 years old.
Are Lesser Ball Pythons Good Pets?
Yes, the Lesser ball python can make a great pet for most snake lovers – even beginners – as they are relatively shy and docile by nature, making them quite easy to care for and handle, even for children. Though we would urge caution about having them near very young children and suggest that older children are supervised around them.
Young Lesser ball pythons will only need to be fed every 5 to 6 days and as they grow, they can go as long as 2 weeks without. They will also shed every 4 to 6 weeks (more on this later), so they are relatively low maintenance pets. They also live between 20 and 30 years old – though some have been known to live as long as half a century!
Lesser Ball Python Cool Facts
- They can find their prey in total darkness – Lessers, and in fact all ball pythons, have a kind of night-time vision superpower that allows them to detect the body temperature of their prey by spotting a thermal image of their food meters away.
- They can live to be 50 years old! As we’ve established, Lessers are known to live around 20 to 30 years, but they are capable of living to half a century – as pet snakes go, that’s a commitment!
- Ball pythons are named so because they curl up into a ball when they feel threatened or stressed (not unlike some of us humans!)
- They lay their eggs in abandoned burrows – ball pythons cleverly make use of burrows that have been neglected by mammals because they make humid nests are mostly out of their predators sight.
Lesser Ball Python Genetics
Lesser ball pythons are a co-dominant morph, which basically means that their genes produce an unblended effect and work in equal cooperation with each other so that both genes in a gene pairing are expressed equally.
For example, if a Lesser ball python’s parents respectively possess 1 brown and 1 yellow gene, the ball python offspring will have the appearance of a brown and yellow color pattern, instead of a murky combined light brown color of the two.
Lesser ball pythons are so called ‘Lessers’ because they all descend from a ball python known as the ‘Platinum’ – a breed first introduced by American breeder Ralph Davies – and all descendants of the Platinum became known as ‘lessers’ because they lacked the full color and vivid appearance of their Platinum ball python ancestor.
So it’s in the ‘lessening’ process of their bloodline that their ball python pattern genes survived but their colors gradually faded in ‘blushing’ patches.
How Rare are Lesser Ball Pythons?
Lesser ball pythons are not considered rare – they are actually one of the most common types of captive ball python morphs and one of the least expensive pet snakes too.
They are not found in the wild but the Lesser ball python has been a favorite breeder tool for years and is commonly used to create special designer morphs such as the Blue Eyed Leucistic or BEL ball python (more on this and other popular morphs later).
Breeding Lesser Ball Pythons
Ball python breeders love to experiment with Lessers since their already rich brown, tan and yellow color palette and faded ‘blush’ patches have the opportunity to intensify and produce striking effects.
More experienced ball python owners may like to try their hand at breeding their Lessers with other ball python morphs to get weird and wonderful color variations, and this must be done by creating the perfect environment for mating conditions, as well as choosing only the most suitable mates for their Lessers.
The improper breeding of Lessers can cause the offspring to be born with certain eye conditions such as small or ‘bug’ eyes that are larger than normal, and this often occurs by crossing Lessers with the wrong morph, so be sure to consult an experienced breeder and seek expert advice before you ever attempt to breed your Lesser ball python.
Lesser Ball Python Shedding
Lesser ball pythons will shed frequently during their lifetime and will usually shed every 4 to 6 weeks, shedding more often as younger snakes. When they are ready to begin shedding, your python’s scales will start to appear dull and their eyes will turn blue and milky, a change known as Pre-ecdysis or ‘pre-shed’.
Ball pythons will shed best if they have the right humidity levels, so you should do your best to keep their enclosure damp enough – things like dampening their bedding with a spray bottle and keeping a water bowl in their cage will help increase humidity to ensure they shed fully and evenly.
Most Popular Lesser Ball Python Morphs
As a common breeder tool in the ball python world, the base morph Lesser ball python has been used to create quite a few beautiful and popular morphs, which include:
- BEL (Blue-eyed Leucistic Ball Python) – BEL otherwise known as the ‘Blue Eyed Lucy’ is a stunning morph with a body of pure snow-white scales and blue eyes. This morph can only be created by breeding Lessers together with Butter or Mojave ball pythons.
- Lesser Bee Ball Python – a Lesser Bee ball python is the bright and beautiful crossing of a spider ball python with a Lesser, resulting in a contrasted pattern of a soft cream body with a refined velvety brown spider pattern.
- Lesser Pinstripe Ball Python – This interesting combo takes the slim pattern lines of the pinstripe with the subtle and soft tones of the Lesser to create an array of unique results such as a pronounced highlighted line of color along the sides or dorsal or else hints of the classic ball python pattern dotted along the spine like Morse code.