Starting with Single Gene Animals - Good Idea or No? (beginner breeding question)

So, I’ve got this idea in my head that it would be SO cool to start a breeding project with several single-morph ball pythons, and build my future combos basically from the ground up. I love the idea of hand-picking an example of each morph that I particularly like, and then breeding them to make stellar combo animals. So instead of, say, getting a Leopard Enchi Pastel, where the three morphs would be influencing each other a fair bit, and you wouldn’t really be able to tell, say, if it was a particularly heavily patterned Leopard, or a very bright Pastel, I would start with a simple Leopard, and choose an individual with coloring and pattern that I really, really like. Then maybe I’d add a really nice Pastel, and put those together for a sort of “custom” Leopard Pastel. And then choose an Enchi I really like, and so on.

I hope I worded that clearly enough that people can understand. I’m finding this concept particularly difficult to explain for some reason.

Anyway, I really like this idea, and if I can afford the racks and the feeding (I’m assuming I’ll be keeping a fair few snakes if I go this route), I would like to give it a go. But I’m concerned about finding good homes for the babies I will be producing. At the beginning, it would be a lot of normals, and single- or double-morph animals. I don’t mind not making a lot of money early on, as long as I can bring in enough to sort of support the project… but I’m concerned that, say, a Pastel with no other morphs mixed in, might not be terribly desirable and may take many, many months to sell, or even never sell at all.

I was hoping someone on here might have some advice. Have you had trouble selling normals and one- or two-morph animals? Do you worry that if you’re selling a snake for $50-100 it might be less likely to end up in a good home and be well cared for?

I think down the line, I could produce some REALLY awesome-looking combo animals by hand-picking each “ingredient” in the mix, but if it means having dozens of snakes nobody wants to buy and care for, well… realistically I wouldn’t be able to keep the project going if I had to keep every baby. I would run out of money and space in a hurry!

Any info that will help me decide what to do here would be greatly appreciated!


I really like your thinking of picking high quality morph, so you control the type, look of the morph from the ground up! I think though if you wanted to do something along these lines you should go ahead and pick your top of the line, or whatever particular single gene morph in females. Females are usually worth the money in feeding and housing some, no matter what morph. Then look around and get a super high quality multi-morph male, I’d suggest one with at least 1 incomplete-dominate gene that is also a visual recessive. Such as a lesser, clown ect. Something that can make lots of visual morphs with your different single gene females and include the added bonus and value of making everything a het. for whatever recessive genetic trait you choose. You won’t make a lot of money right away, but I have found you can move less expensive snakes in most cases. No matter what route you choose to go, always try to go for the best quality and/or the look you like, then no matter what you should produce some animals you want.


Bluntly I will tell you that producing a bunch of single or double gene animals in your quest to attain your “perfect” combos will make it harder for you to move your unwanted surplus. Most people buying are going to be looking for combos so you will either have to be prepared to house animals for significant periods of time until you sell them, be open to wholesale selling, or acquire (or find someone with) something like a cribo or Apadora or CalKing, or other ophiophagous species.

If those options are less than appealing, you can accomplish the same goal of high quality animals by buying combos, you just have to pick the absolute best representative of what you are wanting to accomplish and not sacrifice quality for price.

So, using the ELP you mention above as an example, figure out what your personal idea of a “perfect” one would look like. Is it one that is vibrant yellow overall? Or is it one that has a sharp break in the patterning where the tops are golden and the bottoms are bright yellow? Is it one that has the patterning all blended together? Or is it one that has a super chaotic pattern?

Make these same decisions when you pick your holdbacks. If you produce a clutch and the perfect animal from it is a male but you really wanted a female, DO NOT keep the lower-quality female just because it is female. Instead, either keep the male or move the whole clutch out and repeat the pairing and hope you hit the female in the next season.

Keep your breeding plans fluid and not totally static. This ties in with the above. If you are locked in to a plan of - I absolutely must produce animal A this season so that I can make animal B next season to be able to pair with animal C that I am growing up for three seasons from now - what happens if you miss animal A but produce a a bunch of animals Q, R, S, and T? If you keep your plans more fluid then maybe the Q animals would be perfect if paired to animal H and make animal Z that would be an even better fit for your project 2


Let’s not forget that cheap ball pythons like normals (that will likely be produced) and single gene animals have a higher chance of being neglected or abandoned. There are probably ten or so normal BPs at one rescue near me alone. Someone that used to live with my bf neglected their normal BP until it died because they didn’t want to spend more than the snake on housing it properly.

Given all the surplus these breedings will likely cause in the form of cheap snakes, I definitely wouldn’t recommend it due to what it can lead to for the animals.


Baring in mind the good advice above which I agree with, there is still a way your plan could work without producing normals.
Start with supers or better still a supers + something else. That way you are guaranteed combos and no normals.

Edit: on reflection looks are not everything in the offspring, Vigour and health is important too for future breeding plans.

Oh, Edit 2, just thought. Hatchlings can change a lot , maybe select a few good looking adults or sub adults or at least look at parents. I did it that way.


Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and your good ideas! I have a lot to think about.

I really like the concept of buying single gene females and a powerhouse male to put to them. Especially if I can get a look at his parents, and maybe his grandparents - that might give me a good idea what some of his morphs might look like when separated from some of the others.

The idea of using a super or a visual recessive male is also a good one. I might like that even better, actually.

My biggest concern is finding good homes for the babies, and I agree - a cheaper baby is more likely to be neglected than an expensive baby.

Maybe I should start collecting females and saving my money, and then splurge on a very high value male (Sunset or Monsoon or something like that). That would let me try my single-gene idea and make a bunch of relatively valuable hets, which I would think would be relatively easy to find good, caring homes for. Assuming those morphs don’t flood the market before I have babies to sell, of course.


Thanks again for all your input! If anyone had any other ideas please feel free to share.


Another thought - suppose I retain most of the babies, maybe selling a few here and there to people who seem dedicated and caring? A few years down the line, if things go well, I would have some pretty epic three or four gene combos that I could breed back to those nice single or double gene snakes.

This would mean keeping quite a few animals in the beginning. But if I could manage it, in a few generations I would likely find myself in a good position to produce quite a number of very nice animals.

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I think your idea is great, in perspective to some of the other comments most people here on MorphMarket are looking for multiple genes but if you grab your following on fb or if you would find more ppl who don’t care much if there snake has 1 gene or 20 so it all depends on your marketing


I only had one single gene animal my first season, and it was the first snake to sell at a show. I was told my numerous people that they wish people had more single gene animals available at shows for people who truly want pets. I never thought I’d come across someone saying that, and then it actually happened to me.

I think if you like the idea of starting off with single genes then go for it. You would be the winner in the patience category. I honestly think it’s a really cool idea, and you can even go back and say that everything that has pastel (just as an example) came from this one snake that you single handedly picked out. Now many people can say that.


Its probably good to start single gene cuz it makes it a lot easier to identify if your starting out. Most of the time if you ask for help identifying multi genes you get a lot of cocky answers like if you cant ID then you shouldnt be breeding and stuff like that. Like they woke up one morning and was an automatic expert.


Nobody wakes up an automatic expert, it takes time to work on perfecting your husbandry, IDing morphs and setting yourself up to produce healthy hatchlings. Which underscores the imporance of not jumping into breeding right away and instead taking the time to learn and develop those skills so that you can be appropriately knowledgable and prepared when you do start hatching. Expecting someone to be knowledgable about their own animals should really be the bare minimum


I will chime in and say that if you aren’t concerned about making the fast buck, and you don’t get too many snakes where you get overwhelmed, then your plan is fantastic. I feel that looking at isolated gene variations is the best way to select the perfect example of a gene. Understanding that the traits that the industry feels are the best examples, and what you feel is the best example, may not align. Beauty is subjective.

I have posted this before but I’ll say it again. Even the two ugliest Yellowbellies ever born will produce a white snake. If what you want is a white snake, then fine. But if what you want is a beautiful YB, and you start with the ivory, you will never produce it. Further, you won’t know that until it lays a few clutches of ugly YB babies.

If you start with great examples of single gene animals, then what you find beautiful will carry forward for the most part. You are still working with living things and so variables always pop up and are beyond our control. If they didn’t, this industry wouldn’t exist. Follow your vision, your dream. Just keep it manageable and fun.


This is unfortunately the exception not the rule in most cases, especially as the hobby continues to grow on social media. Normals just aren’t cool enough especially as a 1st snake for a new hobbyist to show off, I’ve now found that longterm keepers/breeders are actually more likely to have an affinity for normals.

I keep a few normal in my collection to help prove things out or to make a couple clutches each year with single/dbl morphs and a lower more affordable animal to have something available for every budget. That aside most of my “normals” aren’t normal, they are at least single/multi het recessives that look normal for someone that likes that pallet but wants more power for future projects.

There’s nothing wrong with the OP’s original premise and I find it commendable for anyone wanting to go that route. But unfortunately the days of starting that way passed about 10 years ago. If you’re doing it because you feel it’s what’s best for you and you just want the experience of developing your own combos great, just remember by the time you’re excited about your 1st 3 or 4 gene combos many others will be on 8 to 10+ and their 3-4 gene babies will be their “normals” so to speak.

At the end of the day as long as we’re all doing things for our love of the animals/hobby/community then you can’t lose. If you’re doing it for the $ then you’ve already lost. As the best line ever and often repeated goes “if you want to be a millionaire in this hobby, the best thing to do is start w a million $ in the bank”.


This is so true I think that it needed to be in this thread again!


As someone who has and still is going that route, I can honestly say it is expensive. Been breeding for 5 years starting with single/double genes for the most part and have not made a profit to date. All income from selling hatchlings goes right back into rodent, substrate, enclosure, cleaning supplies, shipping supplies, water and energy costs.

There’s also the challenge of changing tastes. The genes or aspects of genes you enjoy tend to shift over time (heck knows that’s been the case with me lol). Not to mention a copy of a gene that looks phenomenal alone might not interact with others in the manner you’d hoped. Though true for any reptile breeder, sinking a ton of time/effort/funds into a project and still winding up disappointed can feel especially rough when you ‘started from scratch’ so to speak. The sentiments others have expressed about difficulty finding good homes for the little ones definitely rings true as well. Now this isn’t meant to deter you, rather to warn about some of the aspects I’ve struggled with and help you make an informed decision. There are absolutely many benefits to this method! Not to mention tips/tricks, as others have laid out. I’ll echo one and say recessives are your ally. Also if you find a multi-gene animal that fits your projects perfectly it can be worth it to make an exception. Ask the breeder to see the parents/clutchmates/close relatives in case any single gene examples are around to help you decide.

The difference a hand selected copy of a gene can make is phenomenal. If you have the passion, patience, expendable income, and genuine love for the hobby, it can be a really rewarding endeavor :+1:


I just wanted to reiterate how grateful I am for all the good advice here. You all have given me SO much great stuff to think about and consider. I really, REALLY appreciate each of you taking the time to add your words of wisdom to the thread!


I’ve been producing BPs since 2015. Each year I hatch between 80-120 ball pythons. I have an established reputation in the reptile community, a fairly large IG account, and I do reptile shows as well as selling on MM.

This is not an advertisement and these animals are not available for public sale, I just want to share a little bit of reality. I have the following single gene animals still in my racks after doing several shows, and offering them to several wholesalers. 1.0 Lesser, 1.0 Pastel, 1.0 Mystic, 1.0 Pastel Enchi, 0.1 Genetic Black Back, 1.1 HGW, 0.1 Normal. These animals are all 6-10 months old.

The reason I’m still sitting on them is due to market saturation at that level. They’ve all eaten a sizable chunk of their value, some have already out consumed their market value. This is a normal part of a breeding cycle. People have a very damaged expectation that there is a quick buyer out there for every animal. Even when it comes to higher end combos, you’ll often have to sit on them for 3-6-9 months. It’s really not unusual for animals to hang around for a full year before they sell. Some years are better than others, but it happens. All of these animals were in my display at the Super Show and 10,000 people chose not purchase them. The wholesalers there, who I know, wouldn’t even buy them because they had already bought so many single gene BPs that weekend. I couldn’t even move them for $10/each this year. Animals that are less than $150 never sell online either because of shipping costs, so that wouldn’t be an effective avenue to move single gene animals, they really only sell in non shipped transactions.

While I applaud the energy, and you really are halfway on the right track, I would suggest not buying single gene females. Even with the idea to gene smash a ‘powerhouse’ male over them. I’ve done it for many years and you end up with a lot if ‘byproduct’ 1 and 2 gene animals. These 3 males generated all of the single babies I’m still sitting on to give you an idea of what you get gene smashing; Enchi Soul Sucker, Banana Silverstreak Spinner male and a Leopard Lesser Pewterblast male, are responsible for all those single gene snakes I’m still sitting on from early last year :man_shrugging:


Excellent post @ballornothing


That makes a lot of sense, and I can see that this could become a very expensive endeavor if I’m sitting on unsellable babies for a year or more. What would you recommend doing instead? I really want nice lines of each morph in my projects - is there a better way to go about this that won’t produce so many one or two morph babies?


Start with 2-3+ gene animals that look to be excellent examples of the combo, ask for pictures of the parents, and religiously stalk breeder’s instagram/Facebook/MorphMarket to get a good idea of how their lines of various morphs look in different combos. For example, if you want an excellent example of pastel in your lines, look for breeders who have aged pastels in their collection that still look yellow and vibrant without browning out, and then lets say they have a pastel leopard mojave something or other for sale that you might be interested in - look at other snakes in their collection with leopard and mojave to see if you also like them, etc and so forth