Ethics of Spiders and Spider Breeding

An observation: we’ve been having this discussion for at least 10 years now. Kudos to anyone that can pin down the year that spider really popped off. 1999 marks the production of spider so we’ve got at least two decades of experience with spider. In all that time it’s been called spinning, corkscrewing, and finally settling on wobble.

Anyone out there have a 20 year old spider? Probably the oldest I’ve directly interacted with regularly was around 7 and was only spider with no other genes.

Has anyone held a woma side-by-side to a spider? A lot of conversations simply list “wobble” but the woma and spider behaviors aren’t the same at all. I wouldn’t say more or less severe but certainly different. Champagne doesn’t seem to express like either woma or spider. The awareness and descriptions on these are getting a little polluted, I think.

We seem to be hitting a point of the conversation being the proverbial dead horse. There are studies and comparisons of quantified well being, thousands of spider owners, and and aging population of original spiders. Why are new spider topics being started, at one point daily, at least weekly? Why is it still a toxic subject to the point of people labeling others “ProSpider” and browbeating ethics conversations?

At this point, with this much data, it should be pretty universally accepted as a personal ethical decision instead of rehashing decades of public discourse.


I agree, but as long as the internet exists some people are going to use it to drag others through the dirt. The spider gene is a hot topic because someone decided it was wrong to breed spiders and they had a moral obligation to spread that opinion as far and wide as they could. The rumors kept flying because people like drama.

I wish there were studies on spiders and hard data we could look at about the wobble. I wish we had more information about what it is and how it originated. New people don’t seem to realize there isn’t much science behind it, which makes it incredibly easy for someone -literally anyone, actually- to go hog wild and making any claims they want because there’s no evidence to prove or disprove them.

Experience should trump superstition, but having scientifically gathered data would be even better.

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If you have your science hat on, we pretty much know (have a pretty solid theory) on exactly what causes wobble - the mutation interferes with the neural crest in embryo development early. Nerve, neuron, and melanocytes all originate in the neural crest. Late interference only affects pattern. Early affects facial structure, connective tissue, neurons, etc, etc, etc.

This isn’t unique to spider or even ball pythons and has been well known for a very long time (with some looking you should be able to find references dating before 2010 specific to python breeding. Again, a decade). It’s not a spider ball python thing: it’s a vertebrate thing.

The science is out there. It’s just, afaik, not in a YouTube video.

There are some gems to be found out there that use some science. This is from Cambridge but kind of weak with little participation from keepers/breeders:


Y’all giving me anxiety about my spinnerblast I’m getting this week

I told myself I would never own a spider or keep it in my collection, but I want a personal experience with the gene to understand what people are talking about or experiencing. I have high hopes this snake is going to be very well off, and while I did get her at first to breed I’m starting to think she might become a Penny and get her own tank and just be a pampered snake.

Check the snake out. Don’t turn it upside down or any of the stupid !@#$ YouTubers do. You’ll quickly learn that the current myths of “can’t eat” and “can’t strike” are mostly nonsense. They may miss once but they’ll never skip a meal.

Spider is an odd one to gauge even though people will say they can somehow divine out the bad wobblers with a Ouija board or something… People have “perfect” hatchlings that turn into bad wobblers as adults and “perfect” adults that were wobblers as hatchlings.

Excitement/stress will usually exacerbate wobbles. Expect that you’ll see more during the adjustment phase when you bring them home. A little jiggle as soon as they realize it is feeding time is usually noticeable. If you boop their snoot their little retreat isn’t usually as smooth (a bit of flail side to side that you don’t see in others). If you think they’re getting stressed out just point them at a hide to keep it positive and allow them to choose to leave you (just like you should do with any ball python).

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I’ve added a link to this thread to the Spider page of the Encyclopedia to hopefully save users from asking the same question in the future. They can use this as a place to view opinions and build their own.

7. Spider

Morph Encyclopedia: #0007

Thomas Eagle - Eagle Reptiles


Image from Deborah Stewart at Stewart Reptiles

Base Morph Incomplete Dominance (Co-dom)


The Spider Ball Python is a pattern and colouration altering morph that is credited by many as being one of the morphs that helped the hobby take off. The name Spider comes from the black “webbed” patterning between the “alien heads”.


Head: The head of a Spider Ball Python is usually dominated by bold markings with a darker spot on its crown that makes them easily recognisable from their non-Spider siblings.

Image from Nathan_e

Body: The black “puzzle” pattern along the body of the Spider Ball Python is heavily reduced, as is markings within the now enlarged and golden “alien heads”.

Some Spider Ball Pythons exhibit large (high-white) sections of white scales whereas some show non (low-white) at all.

Image from Holly Jenkins

Belly: The Belly of the Spider Ball Python usually shows faded or patchy continuation of the black body markings, with spots varying between individual animals. Large contrast in colours can be seen along its edges, especially in high-white Spiders.

Image from Holly Jenkins

Tail: The tail of the Spider Ball Python is usually heavily ruled by mostly unbroken pattern that wraps from one side to the other.

|844.0782631327934x451Image from Frank Mennella at Ball Python Distributors


  • Super: Super Spider (Spider X Spider)

Yeah let’s do this: here’s the Super Spider

Image from Matt Huck at OWAL Reptiles

Known Issues:

Wobble - The Spider Ball Python (and other morphs) has a genetic disorder referred to in the hobby as a “wobble”. “Wobbles” can range from almost unnoticeable to worryingly severe on an individual basis and is one of the largest debated and controversial topics in the reptile world, with many experienced breeders and keepers on both sides of the debate. While all Spider Ball Pythons “wobble” to a degree, extreme cases are rare and most will live a normal life. “Wobbles” are often more noticeable during feeding and agitation and can be affected by stress and husbandry.

Ethics of Spiders and Spider Breeding

Useful links:

Compare to a Normal Ball Python

Buy a Spider Ball Python

Help Identifying your Spider

Let’s see them Spiders

Spider topics

Question on wobble

Morph issues

Other images of Spiders:

|675.7218673598082x451Image from Brandon Holt at Mothership Reptiles

Image from Nathan_e

Multiple Gene Spiders:

Spinner Blast ( Spider Pinstripe Pastel)

Image from Deborah Stewart at Stewart Reptiles

Orange Dream Spider

Image from Deborah Stewart at Stewart Reptiles


This was all said quiet a few times in this post already, but I’m gonna say it again as well. Spiders eat, breed, shed, poop, etc all the same as a normal ball python. My spiders are some of my Best feeders. Do they wobble ? Yes to varying degrees. I breed spiders because it wasn’t some morph that just randomly popped up in someone’s collection. The first spider was a wild import. It was found alive and well in the wild , and was captured and sold into captivity. Mother Nature is extremely cruel. If this morph could survive in the wild surely living like kings and queens in private collections in captivity would be living on easy street. I know my spiders needs. I follow them to a T. Low traffic low stress conditions is how I keep mine. Truly is a shame the hate they get. There are tons of other animals out there that have issues yet people drop thousands of dollars on them no questions asked. Certain breeds of dogs can’t even birth their own pups without c-sections yet people line up to drop 2 plus grand on them. Some have hip problems same thing take my money now. The spiders contributed to the morph craze we see today. They make stunning combos. Everything they touch just makes jaw dropping animals. If the gene popped up randomly in someone’s collection, and they started selling it I may feel different, but it didn’t it was a gene that came straight from the wild. Survived, lived, thrived long enough to be captured and sold into captivity. Even then after it still thrived well enough to produce , and give us the spiders we all have today. I love them and respect them till the end.


The funny thing is we’ll probably never see a thread like this on champagne, HGW or super spotnoses and if we do id bet it wont get nearly as much attention.

When I first started out I swore up and down I’d never have a spider in my collection and certainly never breed them. I was fresh off the research train and heard all the horror stories and listened to all the people who were strongly against them. What Ive finally learned is listening to these “anti-spider” people is a lot like listening to PETA. People think the message their spreading is good but its mostly just bullshit.

An Enchi bee (Spider, Pastel, Enchi) ended up being my second snake ever and shes an absolute dream. She has literally never missed a meal, even when in shed, she moves around great and has one of the best personalities of all my snakes and shes calm as can be. Sometimes I’ll notice her head shake a bit when shes honing in on a rat but other than that she absolutely thrives. Seems silly to condemn spiders so much when the actual number that are so messed up they have to be culled is probably in the low single digits. Not to mention there’s no “war” waging against champagnes, HGWs, spotnose, etc.

And my second best eater is a girl with HGW in the mix! Shes a soul sucker YB and she has also never missed a meal and never had a single issue. And when I talk about her or post pics of her no one ever mentions how “unethical” she is to have or to breed.

I also have a zebra bee coming in a few weeks and I have a lot of plans for her.

Picture tax of the two mentioned girls for my long rant:


We probably will. Once the spider outrage fizzles out, and it will, the same type of people will turn their outrage to whatever is next. YouTubers are already scraping for fresh outrage and throwing woma in as “just like spider”.

Maybe it won’t buy someone a Tesla like Spider did but that person has plenty of other sick animals to try to exploit. :man_shrugging:

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oh great not this again. this topic has been covered by many top breeders around the world. those negative videos from people on youtube are from people that know absolutely nothing about ball pythons or the spider gene. you as an owner of the reptile have the choice if you want to breed it or not. apart from the slight head wobble, pretty much all the spider bp’s i have seen or people who i have dealt with that had them said they live normal lives. people using words like neurological… do me a favour and go read up what that word means… there was a breeder a couple years ago, ( i will try find the post) that did an experiment on the spider gene. where his ball pythons are kept at 31.5 deg he had a seperate rack with 6 spider ball pythons in it. that rack was set to 32.5 degrees. and he could noticibly see a difference with regard to the amount of head wobble. the temp increase acutally decreased the amount of head wobble. imo spiders are some of the best feeders of all the morphs out there. and to those bastards that say a spider with head wobble must be put down… please do me this favour… take a concrete block… tie it around your waste… and jump in a pool and drown yourself. if you have a baby and it is born with only one arm… are you gonna put it down? no you wont… it’s an animal that deserves a fair chance at life. if you don’t like the gene or don’t want to keep it that’s fine but don’t go around spreading stupid rumours about it that destroys it for everyone else. there is an always will be an market for spider ball pythons. i know of a lot of spider bp’s that have no wobble at all.

sorry for the rant… just so tired of these damn “animal activists” wanting to always get involved in shit they know absolutely nothihg about. then us in the reptile hobby have to spend countless amount of hours having to defend it.


Hello folks. I am new to the BP world. I’m in the process of purchasing my 2nd BP. I saw the word “ethics” and “spider” and scrolled through the feed. I noticed someone brought up canines. So being a Psych (BEHAVIORAL health RN, BSN) who cannot contribute to the discussion directly…I thought I’d throw this in…HUMANS. There are many genetic defects and gene/chromosome related issues in humans. Some are hereditary and only run in “females” or “males”. Well my son just turned 18. When I got pregnant for him I utilized a “sex selection” procedure. I had to drive several hours away because my home state did not yet have this technology available. It was a very natural procedure. The sperm is put into a “spinner” we will call it…and through centrifugal force the concentration of X and Y …go “opposite” directions. Then the sample with a higher concentration of the sex you are trying for is basically “injected” with a syringe. It is not guaranteed you will get pregnant. Also there are 85% to 96% (something like that) chances of being successful with getting your female or your male. Anyhow…point being…when I read about the facility and the procedure…i learned that there were several “sex dependent” hereditary disorders that cause people to utilize this procedure to have healthier children with a normal lifespan. I personally just REALLY wanted a boy …and I already had 3 girls…and it was a fairly simple non invasive procedure. It worked for me…anyway…this discussion reminded me of reading about those genetic issues…so no matter what type of “animal” you discuss…there are always these exceptions. And just today I read and printed off a long list of BP morphs and their specific “possible issues”. I think “spider” just happened to be the most noticed issue and therefore causes all this “ethical debate”. Also pregnant women choose whether or not to have a specific genetics test ran in case of certain conditions to decide whether or not to carry on and give birth… Wow. We definitely don’t want to talk about all that. Let’s see those beautiful snake pics! :heart::snake::blush:


Very well put. I would add that they are more adept to accidental self harm from the wobble. I have a bumblebee spider and he has the tendency to topple over from time to time.

I truly love everything about ball pythons, but I am not experienced in any way, shape, or form, so take this comment with a grain of salt.

It seems like people (mainly youtubers) like to focus on the exceptions of spiders, they make bad examples from rescues that were malnourished and mistreated, if you want a good youtube video, watch clint’s reptiles, he has a good view on the subject.

I also don’t understand what is going through the minds of those european reptile expos, their being idiots.

this is a slippery slope and it could end badly for plenty of morphs, take albino or leucistic for example, people have issues with keeping and breeding those on the grounds of them “not being able to survive in the wild”, heck, even a wild type wouldn’t survive after being pampered in captivity.

that is my view on the matter and i would love some feedback.

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I don’t breed spider because so many people have such a strong negative impression of it that it becomes impossible to have a conversation about. I will admit that I was one of those people for a few years, until I learned more about the condition. Spider is what originally attracted me to the hobby and when I got one as my third snake I had the same reaction as many new keepers. I saw it wobble and corkscrew and thought something was wrong with my snake.

Over the years I have continued to raise that snake and learn about wobble and how it affects the animal. I see nothing ethically wrong with breeding but the forced outrage from people who don’t fully understand what’s happening makes working with it a losing proposition in the long run.


Got my three new snakes in yesterday

Albino banana pinstripe

Albini has some “rubbing” on his back/spine area
Champagne seemed like a wack job from the start
Spinnerblast was the only normal one of the bunch

Haven’t seen her show any signs of what others say Spiders show, but the Champagne definitely threw in some good corkscrewing. Goes to show that it varies by morphs, and while champagnes are known to have the wobble they don’t get the same hate. My spider is fine. Champagne is a mess. Go figure :woman_shrugging:



To be fair the wobble will vary wildly by individual and also age. I honestly believe there’s a huge difference between spider, woma, champagne, etc wobbles but I haven’t dealt with hundreds of each morph so… :woman_shrugging:

You’ll most likely see wobbles at feeding time. Every spider I’ve dealt with has an almost puppy-dog-like-anticipation-shake at food time. There’s also usually a difference in snoot boops. They don’t retreat quite as smoothly as a non-spider.

If you literally molest the little guy maliciously like these YouTubers do… maybe you’ll see more symptoms… but why?

I do not breed spiders, or any other gene that carries wobble. I have seen and owned snakes with a wobble so severe they could not tell up from down, and could not eat. If your argument is “It doesn’t affect their quality of life” you do not have a valid argument because it DOES affect their life and is a disability that should not be supported just because they’re pretty and make you money.


I will never believe someone that suggests there is money to be made from spiders that can’t be made from any of the other morphs. That pretty much causes me to not believe they’re even engaged in the hobby at all.

I could have a bad prejudice in that conclusion but there is simply no factual evidence that spider is somehow making people more money. It is a completely nonsensical talking point.

If I am wrong about that conclusion please make a YouTube video or somehow provide evidence of a snake you own and that you have a known history of that also has a debilitating wobble. This is not a call out - this is to encourage you to help us have a conversation about the topic. The videos we have available now are either from 2009 or from YouTubers making money claiming their rescue spider acts weird when they aggravate it. :frowning_face:


Improper care/bad husbandry and stress cause the wobble to be more severe. That’s on you or wherever you got it from.

Also…seriously? Could not eat? Yeah ok. Guess it’s actually a super snake maybe the wobble eliminated its need for food to survive?

If I had to guess…it was either a rescue, you kept it in bad conditions, and/or you’re WAY overblowing the severity because if it couldn’t eat…it would die. If the snake was in that bad of shape and this wasn’t fake news you should have humanely euthanized it. Get outta here with this garbage man. Good grief.

I’m sorry to be snippy but come on. I guess everyone is entrenched in their opinion, and that’s fine. But there are such holes in your logic, and you guys seem to consistently take the single individual out of thousands and thousands of healthy animals (literally) and act like that’s the rule. Ridiculous.


Precisely why I’ll never get any breed like that. They’re adorable beyond all get out, but I hate the idea of being responsible for encouraging breeding of debilitating defects just because it gives me the feels. Those poor dogs :frowning: