There are actually morphs of ball pythons that take on the mantle of “bumblebee,” almost like a small, legless vigilante, determined to rid the world of all pesky rodents forever. I’m going to give you 10 facts about this pretty nifty, pretty infamous, bumblebee ball python. And you’ll see that you definitely do not have to be afraid of this particular super snake.
1) Friendly Despite Appearance
Ball pythons are known for being one of the best snake breeds to keep as pets. They are very shy, and therefore require multiple hide boxes in their enclosure.
Ball pythons actually got their name from their tendency to curl up into a ball shape when frightened or threatened. Because of their reluctance to engage in conflict, they are also just about the friendliest snake you’ll find.
Ball pythons are the least likely snake to ever bite you, which is another reason they are so popular to keep as a pet.
If they are ever provoked to the point of lashing out, they actually only strike with a closed mouth. They are nonvenomous, and consequently have no fangs, so honestly, it wouldn’t really do them much good to bite.
That being said, ball python snake bites are not unheard of. Just as a general rule, don’t antagonize snakes. That’s a pretty guaranteed way to avoid getting bitten by one. And if you do get bitten by a ball python, just wash the wound and watch for any abnormalities as it heals.
They hail from Africa, mostly from the countries of Togo, Benin, and Guana.
COOLEST PART: They were originally worn as jewelry by African royalty, which gave them their other name: royal pythons.
Because they were known for being so docile, they began to be exported to other countries to be kept as pets. Now, they are the most popular snake breed and continue to be bred in the United States and other countries. Africa still profits greatly from the ball python trade.
2) They Are Constantly Under Construction
Breeders are always coming up with new morphs to create sell. A morph is just a color variation of a snake. For example, a charcoal ball python is just a smudgy black version of a ball python.
They are created by breeding different snakes together and do not naturally occur. The same is true with all other morphs. A bumblebee ball python is another morph. Bumblebee ball pythons are snakes with a mostly yellow background and black stripes and dots. They really do look a lot like their namesake.
Because ball pythons are in such high demand, there is a huge market for snake breeders. All forms of color morphs are bred by breeders and cannot be found in the wild. New morphs are made by breeding two different, preexisting morphs, resulting in new color combinations and patterns.
3) Morphs Like the Bumblebee are “Exotic”
Despite there being a huge market for snake breeders, it is actually cheaper to buy regular ball pythons as imported snakes. From there, you can breed them with other morphs to try and create new color varieties. Regular colored ball pythons can be purchased for as little as $7, and come in every day from Africa.
Imported snakes are so essential because wild-caught females have a very hard time breeding. They usually have to be in captivity for three or four years before you can really start trying to breed them.
It is simpler if you just buy an already “tamed” snake and start breeding from there. You have a much higher success rate that way.
Ball pythons started getting popular in the 1980’s and then hit the top of the charts at the end of the 1990’s. In the beginning, many herpetologists who were just starting out would purchase ball pythons to learn about snakes and how to keep them, and then put them aside for “more exotic” breeds. Then, in the next decade, people realized you could breed ball pythons to make them more “exotic.”
Now, ball pythons go for sale for anywhere from 7 dollars to upwards of twenty thousand dollars! Some morphs, like the albino ball pythons, are in more demand but are rare, so they cost more. Others, like the bumblebee ball pythons, are a little easier to breed, so they’re a little cheaper. Regular ball pythons are probably the cheapest because they are so common.
4) They Constrict Their Prey
Ball pythons fall into a group of snakes called constrictors. They share this title with boas and other forms of pythons (there are a lot). This means that they constrict their prey in order to kill it. That doesn’t sound too pleasant, does it?
There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the way snakes constrict their prey.
The first one is that when snakes squeeze their prey, they break all the bones in their prey’s body. If you don’t have a solid grasp on the basic principles of physics, this almost makes logical sense. But have you ever tried to squeeze a raw egg in your fist? It won’t break. If you can’t even break an eggshell just by squeezing it, ball pythons definitely cannot break every bone in a mouse’s body.
The second misconception is that snakes strangle their prey. While this makes much more sense than breaking multiple bones, it is also unfortunately wrong. It is wrong for the simple reason that it takes too long. And snakes are hungry.
The thing that actually kills a constrictor’s prey is “ischemia.” This is simply defined as a lack of blood supply to any organ. The one we care about in this instance is the brain. A snake squeezes so hard that they restrict any blood flow to the brain and the prey dies within a matter of seconds.
Ball pythons will often wrap around their keeper’s arms, torsos, or wrists. This is not harmful at all. You are much bigger than them, and can easily unwind them. Just start unwinding at the tail, as that is much weaker than their head.
5) Bumblebee Ball Python is not Alone
Ball pythons are so popular and have so many morphs, that there are actually twenty six entirely different kinds of ball pythons. That makes ball pythons the most varied species of snake in the world. It gives snake enthusiasts a lot to work with and many are kept busy their entire lives collecting all the different kinds. Kind of like baseball cards.
Here’s a list of all the different kinds:
- Albino Ball Python
- Axanthic ball python
- Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Python
- Butter Ball Python
- Bumblebee Ball Python
- Candino Ball Python
- Champagne Ball Python
- Chocolate Ball Python
- Cinnamon Ball Python
- Coral Glow Ball Python
- Fire Ball Python
- Ghost Ball Python
- GHI Ball Python
- Ivory Ball Python
- Lesser Ball Python
- Mojave Ball Python
- Mystic Ball Python
- Pastel Ball Python
- Phantom Ball Python
- Piebald Ball Python
- Pinstripe Ball Python
- Spider Ball Python
- Spotnose Ball Python
- Super Blast Ball Python
- Vanilla Ball Python
- Yellow Belly Ball Python
Every variation is just as docile, adaptable, and good to keep as a pet. Really the only differences between any of these are their different colors and patterns. Albino ball pythons are the most popular, really just because they have the term “albino” in the name. If they were called the white ball python, I doubt they would get as much traction.
Ball pythons make great pets and it really depends on what color and pattern catch your eye. However, the bumblebee ball python is so popular because of its distinct look, one that is rather exotic and fascinating.
6) Ball Pythons Like to Fast
One of the most searched questions on snake websites is, “Why won’t my ball python eat?” Sometimes, just like an 18-year-old girl or a 30-year-old woman, ball pythons will put themselves through a cleanse. They will stop eating for up to a month at a time. This is part of a natural cycle called a “brumation period.”
Brumation is a cycle that cold-blooded species do during cold weather to preserve heat. They become more reclusive and move less. They don’t eat, as it burns too much energy. Ball pythons are especially prone to this. Captive reptiles will have much more mild brumation periods or skip them all together.
In addition to brumation periods, ball pythons will often just decide to stop eating for a week or two.
Nobody really knows why, although there are plenty of theories stored in the Google Archives if you’re feeling up to a quest. If your ball python isn’t eating, continue offering food to them once a week anyway.
If it persists for longer than a month, or you notice your snake looking sickly, take them to a vet.
7) Their Eggs Have a Leathery Shell
Most reptiles lay eggs with eggshells that are calcified, but flexible. Some snakes even lay hard eggs. Ball pythons, however, lay eggs with leathery shells. These eggs often stick together in a clutch, making it hard for one egg to roll off and get lost.
Female ball pythons have more maternal instinct than most snakes. The only time a female would be aggressive is when she is protecting her eggs. She lays between four and ten eggs every clutch.
When it’s time for her to lay, she’ll find a dark, moist, secluded area and lay them, then wrap herself around them and stay with them until they hatch. Her presence is essential to keep the developing snakes warm.
The incubation period is around 80 days, during which she will not eat, drink, or move. Once her babies hatch, however, she leaves on their own to fend for themselves. Snakes are born with natural instincts to help them hunt, fight, and survive.
You can always tell if a female ball python is carrying eggs because her color will turn darker than normal. Ball pythons don’t reach sexual maturity until about five
8) Definitely Not at the Top of the Food Chain
Even though snakes may seem pretty scary sometimes, they are in no way at the top of even their own food chain. Ball pythons especially, since they are shy, docile, and nonvenomous, are prone to predation at the hands, claws, jaws, fangs, and pincers of other animals.
Their predators range from perfectly reasonable animals like large mammals (humans included) and other bigger snakes, to completely unreasonable animals like birds, frogs, and insects, including spiders specifically.
Since there are so few ball pythons in the wild, their existence isn’t really threatened by predators. The few that are in the wild are really only in danger if they are unusually small, or if they are young snakes.
9) They Are Listed as “Threatened”
Due to habitat destruction in Africa, there has been a significant decline in wild ball pythons. There are no wild ball pythons found in the United States, unless, of course, your pet snake makes a break for it. Although, honestly, if your captive snake escapes, it will probably die soon.
“It (Python regius) is considered a threatened species and permits are required for its legal export, living or dead.”(J. Mehrtens, ca.1987)
In addition to their habitats disappearing, ball pythons are also threatened by their constant collection. They are hunted for their skin, for pet trading, and for their potential to be delicacies to the crazy people who eat snakes.
Even though ball pythons fall under the “threatened” category, they are not under threat of extinction. Or even close to it. Because ball pythons are so popular as pets, the majority of the population is actually located in human households and scientific labs. There has been minimal population decline over the past couple of decades.
So, in a nutshell, wild ball pythons are threatened and diminishing in population, but because of the high percentage of ball pythons kept as pets, the overall population does not suffer.
10) Wacky Genetics
Bumblebee ball pythons are generally the product of two different ball python morphs, which are the spider ball pythons and pastel ball pythons.
Now to understand the next part, you’re going to need a quick refresher on genetics and the Punnett Square. Here are a few terms you’ll need to know:
- heterogeneous- diverse in genetics. There will be a dominant and a recessive trait.
- homogeneous- similarities in genetics. There will only be two dominant traits or two recessive traits.
- dominant trait- a trait that wins out. For example, if you have a brown eye trait (dominant) and a blue eye trait (recessive), then you will have brown eyes.
- co-dominant trait- a trait that is dominant but also will share the space with another dominant trait. A person with AB blood has co-dominant traits: A blood and B blood.
- recessive trait- a trait that typically takes the back seat. This trait is only expressed if there are two recessive traits instead of a dominant and a recessive. So if you have two traits for blue eyes, then you’ll have blue eyes.
- Punnett Square- a chart that shows the probability of which traits will win out. Below, there is a 25% chance of the recessive trait winning (having blue eyes) if there are two heterogeneous genetics.
|Dominant (brown eyes)||Recessive (blue eyes)|
|Dominant (brown eyes)||Dominant Wins (brown eyes)||Dominant Wins (brown eyes)|
|Recessive (blue eyes)||Dominant Wins (brown eyes)||Recessive Wins (blue eyes)|
A spider ball python is a heterogeneous species, with the spider trait being the dominant one. A pastel ball python is a heterogeneous species, with the pastel trait being co-dominant. The mating results in a bumblebee ball python that is heterogeneous for the dominant spider ball python trait and the co-dominant pastel ball python trait. The probability of this outcome is 25%.
|Spider Dominant||Spider Recessive|
|Pastel Co Dominant||Bumblebee||Pastel|
|Pastel Recessive||Spider||Neither Mutation (Regular Ball Python)|
So bumblebee ball pythons can actually be pretty difficult to breed, and they have absolutely stunning coloration.
Of course, when something is hard to find and pretty, that makes it expensive and popular.
Are ball pythons good pets? Like every animal, the answer is that it varies. Sometimes you’ll get a particularly nasty snake, but in general, ball pythons are considered among the best snake breeds to own as pets. This is due to their docile nature, reluctance to bite, and their low maintenance.
Can a ball python lay eggs without breeding? Females can lay eggs without mating first, but these eggs are all infertile. They are called slugs. Even when females mate, there can be some slugs in every clutch of eggs.
How many morphs exist? There are 5,300 different morphs that have been bred in captivity. This number spans all snake breeds, not just ball pythons. There are 26 different morphs for ball pythons.