Ball Python Colour Spectrum

Do y’all think the albino sunsets will be red?

I don’t think they’ll be.

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Given there is no red pigment in ball pythons, I am going to say “No.”


One of the questions I always think about is what the color limitations of ball pythons are because back 2000 to 2005 no one would have even imagined a animal like sunset was possible. So who is to say for certain a red ball python wont pop up in the next 10 years? just something cool to think about.


There is no red pigment in ball pythons, only brown and yellow. So, barring genetically engineering an entire pigment synthesis pathway into them, it is pretty certain that a red ball will not be popping up :grin: :+1:t4:


Right there is why I love having a genuine geneticist on this form! :grin:


How do Sunset animals get their rusty color with no red pigment?



Oooohh, I think I know the answer …maybe :joy:

So python scales are not just one singular layer on a microscopic level, they have multiple, one under the other, under the other.

As light travels through the first layer, it hits angles and travels through teeeeeeeeny gaps… On to the next layer, where it does the same … And again and again…

As the light is bouncing around it is distorted and twisted… By the time it comes back out and to your eyes, it is no longer a actual representation of the snakes colour.

Dustin from Smarter Every Day played around with a electron microscope and butterfly wings that will make this easier to understand…


A nice attempt Thomas, but not quite right :upside_down_face:

So… In most vertebrates, especially scaled ones, there are guanine crystal matrices within the dermal layers that act as in a dispersion/reflection capacity. The positioning of melanophores/xanthophores relative to these matrices (above, below, within) and the thickness of the matrices can shift the colour perception.

But that is not what is happening with Sunset

The apparent rust hue of Sunsets is just how the brown and yellow pigments interact/interfere with one another. If you really look at the Sunset, you can see that the tone of the animal is yellow/gold-based and not red.

If balls had a red pigment we would see it in Albinos as they would be red, yellow, and white instead of just yellow and white. It would be even more evident in Snows, as they would be “Candy Canes” instead since you would be taking away the brown and yellow pigments leaving only the red of a white background.


What are the chances that the albino we know is actually albino -erythrophores? (I googled that word, it might be wrong :joy: I tried).

Is it possible there could be a albino with red pop up one day that is a true albino.

Do we really just have black, brown and yellow to work with?

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That’s a good point Thomas but… have we seen an albino, aka “amelanistic”, mutation that eliminates more than melanin though? Off hand I can’t think of one. There are T+ lines with varying degrees of melanin “leak”… and T- lines that wipe it all out for good… but I dont know of any that simultaneously wipe out melanin + another color. If ball pythons had red wouldn’t every albino bloodline have to be eliminating both melanin and erythrin (red)? Just seems unlikely.

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