Morph Misidentification: Is it common?

I’ve been keeping a variety of snakes for almost 9 years now, I have only just recently within the last 2 years been breeding ball pythons. For some context with regards to my question, I recently had a clutch that ended up being completely different from what I was expecting. Back in 2016, I bought what was labeled as a Cinnamon Fire male from a very known and reputable local breeder, who I put with my Cinnamon Champagne female, hoping for a gray matter or super cinnamon that I would keep for myself. (Yes, I am aware of the risks of super cinnamons and was willing to give it a shot.) Upon hatching and subsequent shed, the babies were not at all what I was expecting. And after getting multiple opinions, it appears that my cinnamon fire, is actually a cinnamon lesser.

I had no reason to question whether these snakes were mislabeled when purchasing them at a show from known reputable breeders. They to my eyes looked much the same as other representatives of their combos.

It was indicated to me recently, by an apparent veteran of the hobby, that just because I buy a snake that is labeled XYZ, does not mean that snake is XYZ and it may in fact be WXY or WXYZ. And I would have to ask, is that the standard that this hobby/industry stands by? I don’t necessarily believe this to be the case, but if it were, I feel it would be very hard to trust anyone’s word, especially when considering multigene combos, and even just the “basic” similar looking morphs. (A quick note, I’m not talking about those who label something as possibly this, or that, I’m only referring to sale of animals as one thing but are really another.)

How common is it that individuals/hobbyists/businesses are buying/selling snakes that are misidentified?

I know that morph identification is not a complete and exact science and that people make mistakes and that what I’ve experienced is very possibly simply that. I am aware that genetic testing for some morphs is now an option, and hopefully, as it matures, will eventually make this a nonissue.

I am, however, curious to know if others have had similar experiences.


Misidentification happens happens. Usually it is in more complex combinations that just two genes though, but even otherwise good people can make simple mistakes. While I personally find it hard to understand how a Cinny Lesser could be mistaken for a Cinny Fire by a well-seasoned breeder, we all have our off days.

I find that most reputable breeders will be upfront whenever there is a question about their ID, usually erring on the side of underlabeling


I feel like there has been some more misidentification during the last couple of years versus the years prior. There were a lot of new breeders in the hobby during the pandemic. Typically I see a newer breeder that still doesn’t quite understand their allelic combos. For example, listing a single gene mojave or mystic as a magic potion because one parent was. I’ve also seen (thankfully more rarely now) some labeling hatchlings as every gene possible in the clutch and not what they are which is infuriating.

I always try to ask what the parents were when I can. That way you have an idea of what may happen if something pops up later down the line. Most of the reputable breeders I see will sell at what they are sure of, and may mention the pairing or that there’s a good chance of ‘x’ gene.

Things get difficult sometimes at shows or stores when the person working the booth may not be 100% sure of the genes. They should be properly labeled so there’s no guessing needed. I’ve seen it happen before though. Or maybe it was a case of the animal being shown and placed back in the wrong spot. Who can really know?


Yes it does happen occasionally although like @t_h_wyman said usually with more then 2 gene combo morphs. Some morphs hide or change or just totally wash out others, but fire and cinny should be a easier combo to id. @armiyana is right there is a lot of newer breeders that may not have years of experience yet, but you said it was a reputable well known breeder so, maybe a human error such as:

As a breeder just like @t_h_wyman pointed out:

I like to list what both parents were(including hets, possible hets, even slim chance stuff like if one of the parents was from a poss het. whatever but never proved out)so the perspective buyer has all the genetic information possible to the best of my knowledge for their hatchling. This should be the standard, and you might be able to get the parents info from the breeder even after the fact if they keep good records.


I am sure I remember a a bigger discussion about this somewhere but your answers are here.
I have seen it alot of misidentification my self.

As a new breeder I tend to ask in a discussion here if I’m not sure about mine.

Yes, if i am not sure, I just state those I am sure off and then labble others that I think asre there as possible, but others are not listed at all. e.g. Super lesser. possible pinstripe. And then list the parentage including all e.g lesser pinstripe x lesser pinstripe yellow belly so the buyer can have full knowledge of the possibilities.