Ball Pythons are among the most popular pet snakes in the world because they are generally docile, easy to care for, and most importantly, beautiful. Ball Pythons are available in hundreds of different color and pattern variations, known as “morphs,” and that number grows every year. Currently, there are an estimated 6,500 morphs in existence, and breeders are always creating more.
Certain Ball Python morphs are exceedingly rare and difficult to find, and the beautiful highway morph is just one of these. With their gorgeous copper base and unique markings, these snakes are truly beautiful to look at. Read on for more information about this rare and beautiful Python morph.
Quick Facts About Highway Ball Python Morph
|Species Name:||Python regius|
|Common Name:||Highway Ball Python|
|Lifespan:||30 years on average, up to 50 years|
|Adult Size:||4–5 feet|
|Minimum Tank Size:||30–40 gallons|
|Temperature & Humidity||75–80 degrees Fahrenheit on the cool side and 80–85 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side. 50-60% humidity|
Do Highway Ball Pythons Make Good Pets?
Ball Pythons, no matter the morph you choose, make wonderful pets. They are one of the most popular snake species in the world to keep as pets because they are so docile and well suited for beginners. They are comfortable if they are handled gently and calmly, and they are rarely aggressive. They only require feeding every 7–14 days, there is no grooming or training involved, and they don’t require much interaction from their owners.
The highway morph is a mix of the gravel morph and yellowbelly morph, and the result is a dark copper brown base with golden yellow blotches and a broken yellow stripe running down the spine. The contrast between the base and the patterning can vary between individuals, and snakes with higher contrasting colors will increase the price — these varieties are often referred to as a “freeway.” They typically reach between 4 and 5 feet in length, although some specimens can reach up to 6 feet.
How to Take Care of the Highway Ball Python
There is no difference in the care needs of a regular Ball Python and highway morph, so you’ll need to follow the same protocols as you would with any other Python.
Habitat, Tank Conditions & Setup
Glass tanks are by far the most popular choice for keeping Ball Pythons because they are inexpensive and easy to find and offer great viewing ability. That said, they are heavy and difficult to move around, and some people prefer plastic storage boxes or reptile cages. No matter the tank that you choose, the most important factor is that your snake has enough room. Ball Pythons don’t climb much, so height is not much of an issue, but they’ll need at least 5–6 square feet of floor space at a minimum.
You’ll need to spot-clean your snake’s tank daily and give it a full clean every 6 weeks or so. Remove everything in the tank, and wash it with warm, soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and allow to dry before reassembling.
Ball Pythons don’t need any special lighting, and ambient lighting from a nearby window is typically enough for them. That said, fluorescent lights will look great in their habitat too. Just make sure to have it on a 12-hour day/night cycle, preferably on a timer to save you having to switch it on and off.
Heating (Temperature & Humidity)
In their natural habitat, Ball Pythons prefer relatively high temperatures, and you should aim to replicate this in their enclosure. They will need a temperature gradient, though, as this will allow them to access a range of temperatures according to their needs. You can create this using heat lamps, heat pads, or heat tape, with roughly 75–80 degrees Fahrenheit on the cool side and 80–85 degrees Fahrenheit on the warm side. Humidity should be kept at around 50–60%, which you can maintain with a gentle misting every day.
There are various suitable substrates for Ball Pythons, including newspaper, paper towels, and aspen shavings. We recommend cypress mulch, though, because it is affordable, retains moisture, and is ideal for burrowing, and it is a breeze to spot-clean.
|Tank Type:||30–40-gallon glass vivarium|
|Heating:||Heating pad, tape, or lamp with a temperature gradient|
|Best Substrate:||Cypress mulch|
Feeding Your Highway Ball Python
Ball Pythons are carnivores, so the primary diet for your Ball Python should consist of frozen-thawed rats. Adults will need to be fed a small- or medium-sized rat every 7–14 days, depending on their age and size, but juveniles (under 1 year old) will do fine with small mice or pinkies every 5–7 days.
|Fruits:||0% of diet|
|Insects:||0% of diet|
|Meat:||100% of diet: small/medium-sized rodents|
Keeping Your Highway Ball Python Healthy
Ball Pythons are hardy, healthy snakes in general and rarely suffer from any major health issues as long as they are provided with adequate nutrition, environmental conditions, and housing. If your Ball Python is displaying normal, consistent behavior, eats and drinks regularly, and sheds regularly, they are most likely happy and healthy. Still, we highly recommend an annual checkup with a vet to make sure your snake is in tip-top shape.
Common Health Issues
Most health issues that affect Ball Pythons come from a lack of adequate care. This could include thermal burns from tank heating devices, shedding problems caused by low humidity, or respiratory problems caused by high humidity. Inclusion body disease is a rare viral disease that may affect your snake, although this is uncommon with the right precautions.
In captivity, Ball Pythons have an average lifespan of around 30 years, although some specimens have been reported living for up to 45 years. In the wild, however, they only live to be around 10 years old on average, due to predation and other environmental factors.
The highway morph is the result of breeding a gravel morph and yellowbelly morph, but breeding a highway with another highway or freeway should also result in the same or very similar coloring. That said, breeding Ball Pythons for their unique morphs is a complex process that can take a great deal of trial and error to get right, and it is best left to the experts.
Are Highway Ball Pythons Friendly? Our Handling Advice
Ball Pythons can live their entire lives happily without being handled but are far more relaxed with being handled than some other snakes. Your Ball Python may not be the cuddliest pet, but they may enjoy handling and getting out of their tank for a short time every day. Just be sure not to handle them during shedding or a day or two after feeding.
Always pick up a Ball Python with two hands, one behind the head and the other supporting the body. Never pull them by the tail because this can easily cause injury to their spine. Keep a loose grip, and allow your snake to move freely and easily.
Shedding and Brumation: What to Expect
Healthy Ball Pythons typically shed their skin every 4–6 weeks, at which time, you’ll notice their skin dulling in color and their eyes turning opaque. The entire process takes around 14 days from start to finish, and you should avoid handling your Python until the process is complete. Most Ball Pythons will not eat during this time, so if their appetite decreases, there is no reason to worry, but you should still offer them food.
In captivity, Ball Pythons will not brumate because there is no seasonal change in their tank. Some breeders will induce brumation before breeding their Pythons, but this is otherwise unnecessary. A captive Ball Python can go their entire life without brumation, with no ill effects.
How Much Does a Highway Ball Python Morph Cost?
On average, Ball Pythons go for as little as $50 for common morphs or thousands of dollars for rare morphs. Since the highway morph is fairly rare and somewhat difficult to find, they are more expensive than common morphs but not as expensive as some other morphs, like piebalds. You can expect to pay $500-$700 for a highway morph, depending on the breeder and availability.
Care Guide Summary
No matter the morph that you choose, Ball Pythons make great pets, especially for beginners, and there are a ton of gorgeous morphs to choose from. The highway morph is but one of these, and their unique copper brown base with broken, contrasting patterning is one of the more unique varieties out there. While these snakes can be difficult to find, they are beautiful animals that make eye-catching pets and are well worth the effort!
Featured Image Credit: Deb Davis, Shutterstock