Ball Python Genetics Project

This is seriously cool stuff. Wish I had some skins to donate but alas I have no Lav Albino in my collection. On the other hand the fact that they were able to (mostly) prove that Caramel and Ultramel are allelic and even further that there are multiple lines of Ultramel is awesome. It’s good that we were able to discover a gene that doesn’t have reproductive issues like Caramel does but still gets us an amazing snake when bred.

Also they are working on tests to prove (at least for these genes) het and non-het snakes. Imagine not having to wait and prove out a snake potentially waiting 1-3 years only to not have the genes you want. Imagine if this branched out to all recessive genes!


There’s actually a group out of McGill University who has found the gene for piebald, they’re currently working on validating it by using CRISPR to make a piebald ball python. They sent me a copy of the preprint and it’s pretty cool! I’ll definitely share once it’s published


That’s one of the things I’m really excited about! I have a Pastel Chocolate probable Hypo DG possible het Caramel Albino and I would love to find out if he is het for Caramel Albino without actually having to produce visuals!


This is really interesting. Love when it gets really scientifically involved.


This is why I love ball python genetics! It’s so much more complex than other animal genetics. I have been driving my boyfriend crazy with explaining dominant, co-dominant and recessive genes and combination genes. And I’m not an expert, I just think it’s amazing!


Can i ask has anyone ever looked at genetically identifying what the difference between morphs actually are, im from a science background and im wondering has anyone ever tried. we identify alot of things based on genetic markers, we can do this process alot quicker and easier than ever before in terms of the technology we have now. We can test for human disease based on genetic markers, im thinking it would take all the guess work out of identification of what the morph is and if you have something new. Im wondering if there is any genetic material in a snake shed that could be used as they are easy to get from a snake without live tissue or blood etc…

Im guessing snake breeders would use a service like this, depending on cost etc…

Just a thought ive been toying with

We know that the morphs are genetic mutations on an allele of a gene. The mutations are passed down and cause the pattern and color change. If the mutations were sequenced then a library could be created for what mutations are associated with which morphs and then this would be possible by taking a mouth swab and sending it in. This has been done with lemon frost leopard geckos and it was proven that it was the same gene that caused the cancerous tumors. If this were done for all leopard gecko morphs this library would be possible and that swab test for genetics would be possible.

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Are all the mutations in balls on the same gene??? That would make it even easier, it wouldnt take long to build a library theres not that many morphs, if you look at all the different types on sale. Would breeders pay to know for sure what genes they have in a new snake.

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This diagram is useful to determine that. I think they can occur anywhere on any of the chromosomes but I’m not positive on that.

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There are several groups currently working on it right now, I know there’s a lab at McGill University who has identified the causative gene for piebald, and there’s a group out of Eastern Michigan University who are working on albino, lav. albino, and ultramel.

It’s still not an easy project because it involves sequencing mutliple ball pythons of each morph (which will cost about $1k), and comparing the genome with a wild type reference (which is not currently publicly available and annotated). There isn’t a huge amount of funding available for ball python genetics (unlike cancer or alzheimer’s) and there’s a limited number of people who are geneticists and also interested in ball pythons.

Also, no, definitely not. Coral glow/banana glow is sex linked, so it’s on the sex chromosomes, but the rest could be anywhere.

Oh yes it definitely would, we’re talking 150+ traits, and some are allelic so even once you identify the causative locus, the nature of the varient would need to be determined (deletion, SNP, copy number variant, etc)

We’ve discussed why this is so challenging in some other threads, I can’t track them all down but here’s one Spider BP Research

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Cheers for the response, im used to working with human illness that has deeper pockets i guess, i may have to do some digging, is most of research you know of usa based?? Just got me thinking earlier, i watch and read so many articles where people are unsure what is at play in the ball, would this be the simplest way of a definite answer.

Can i ask you said about doing multiple animals of same morph, do you mean same morph or morph family like bel etc, i would of thought that if the morph link was genetic like human eye colour, they would all have same mutation at same place. Base mutation or sequence etc… Sounds like a fascinating project. Maybe if i win the lottery. :joy::joy::joy:

A every representative of a given morph should have the same mutation at a given locus (with some notable exceptions, like Albino), yes. But, to be able to confidently call the specific mutation requires a statistically significant number of individuals that carry the mutation being interrogated to ensure that the change at the genomic level that is found is consistent. Given the number of “silent” mutations that occur across a genome, if you only looked at a single representative of any given morph, odds are you would not be able to call which of the many small changes you found was the absolute source for the mutant phenotype


Is this the paper you were referencing?

Yes it is!

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@properroyals just did a live stream with Hannah if anyone is interested


That is seriously cool and makes you wonder where the future of the pet market might be. If they can create a piebald BP using CRISPR, then I’d imagine eventually they’ll be able to use this technique to create designer snakes when more research is concluded on other genes. Imagine creating a pompeii in the lab. The question is, will they get the funding for such an undertaking? Then there’s also the ethical considerations when humans start playing God.

I’ll have to check that out it seems like it will be interesting

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Reptile Gumbo had one with Her as well a few months back:

And THP recently had Ben Morrill on as well discussing his lab participating in a similar project:


Hey - O!! Thanks for the shout out @eaglereptiles :pray::black_heart::v::snake: