Ball pythons are currently one of the most popular pet snakes. This is due to their shy yet calm nature and the huge number of color morphs available.
Of the hundreds of morphs out there, the blue eyed leucistic ball python is one of the rarest.
Called blue eyed lucy for short, this snake is generally snowy white with blue eyes. Some even have a beige colored stripe along their backs.
These morphs are a prized ball python and cost between $400 to $1,000 depending on their color and size.
Are you considering taking on one of these snakes? Keep reading as we share their origin, genetics, morph variations, and how to care for them.
What Is A Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Python?
The blue eyed leucistic is a morph of the ball python
Like all morphs, it comes from the wild royal ball python (Python regius).
The royal ball python is native to grassland, shrubland, and forests in West and Central Africa. It has black or dark brown colors with light brown markings on the back, sides, and belly. This is its natural color and helps it to camouflage and blend into the trees while hunting.
Blue eyed leucistic ball pythons are mainly white, not the typical black or dark brown.
They are also not a blue snake.
Most importantly, a BEL ball python must have blue eyes. This eye color can range from a whitish-blue to a deep, dark blue.
They are especially striking due to their white coloring and ice blue eyes.
This morph is very rare in the wild for two reasons. The gene combination behind their pale color is very rare to find. Their white color would also make it difficult for them to hunt and hide in the forest.
Luckily, ball python breeders now know how to breed this morph. In fact, they are known for their rare genetics which is why producing a blue eyed leucistic is a goal for many breeders.
So, while they are still a rare morph, finding a blue eyed leucistic ball python should not be too difficult. The first was bred in 1992 by an unknown breeder and some claim that it sold for a whopping $10,000, though this is unverified.
Owners love blue eyed lucys for their beauty and rarity.
The blue eyed leucistic ball python is leucistic which means they have a partial loss of pigment. The lack of pigment makes their scales look pale.
Leucism is not the same as albinism (albino). An albino is a snake with complete loss of pigment that always has red eyes. A blue eyed leucistic python must always have blue eyes!
How To Breed A Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Python
The BEL ball python can be bred from any combination of the following four morphs:
- Het Russo
A male and female of a Het Russo, Mojave, Butter, or Lesser have a 25% chance of producing a blue eyed leucistic ball python.
Based on breeder reports, the following combination of parents have a higher likelihood of producing a clean, very white species:
- Lesser x Mojave
- Het Russo x Mojave
- Het Russo x Het Russo
- Butter Ball x Het Russo
- Lesser x Het Russo
It is important to remember that while any of the four morphs above may produce a BEL, it may not be pure white. Different parent morphs will produce different colors and patterns.
The combinations below tend to create morphs with less desirable color variations:
- Mojave x Mojave – grey colored head, black smudges on head, or yellow flecks on dorsal.
- Butter Ball x Mojave – yellow dorsal stripe.
- Lesser x Butter – often creates bug-eyed offspring.
The Het Russo is a morph that was first bred in 1998 by Vin Russo. It is a warm chocolate-brown color and has more distinct markings and patterns when compared to other morphs.
Mojave ball pythons were first bred in 2000 by the Snake Keeper. They are recognizable for their alien head marking, faded flaming patterns on their sides and a pale belly with no patterning.
Butter Balls were first produced in 2001 by Reptile Industries and ReptMart. The Butter Ball is a softer, paler color and also has a beige stomach and sides.
The first Lesser was bred in 2001 by Ralph Davis and sold for a whopping $30,000! There is some debate as to whether the butter ball and lesser are the same morph.
The Mojave, Butter Ball, Lesser, and Het Russo are all considered base morphs for the blue eyed leucistic ball python. All four of these snakes have a mutated color gene, called the leucistic gene.
Mutated sounds a bit alarming, but color mutations can and do occur naturally in the wild.
All of these base ball python morphs have genes that display incomplete dominance. It creates a process called blending. This means that two different color genes are both expressed in one snake.
This is why the Mojave, Butter Ball, Lesser, and Het Russo morphs all have warmer, paler colors compared to the traditional wild type. They are a blend of leucistic and dark brown (wild-type).
Note that we have not called any of the morphs above co-dominant. Incomplete dominance is the more accurate term. Co-dominant genes create a different type of coloring called the unblended effect, not a blending effect.
So, why is the blue eyed leucistic ball python pure white?
In this case, the mother and father are morphs like a Mojave, Butter Ball, Lesser, or Het Russo. These parents carry just one copy of the leucistic gene (L) and one copy of a normal wild-type gene (l).
The blue eyed leucistic ball python has two copies of the leucistic color gene (L).
Two leucistic genes make them appear pure white.
If both the mother and father carry one L gene and one l gene, they can pass either of these genes to their offspring:
|Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Python Genetics|
|L (leucistic gene)||l (wild-type)|
|L (leucistic gene)||LL
produces a Blue Eyed Leucistic
produces Mojave, Butter Ball, Lesser, or Het Russo
produces Mojave, Butter Ball, Lesser, or Het Russo
produces a wild type
The BEL ball python is so rare because it needs two leucistic genes, one from each parent. This means it is homozygous. Even when using the correct breeding pair, it only has a 25% chance of being hatched.
Difference Between A Lesser And BEL Ball Python
Lesser ball pythons are mid to dark brown on the back, which fades to creamy white on the sides and belly.
They have one copy of the normal wild-type gene and one copy of the leucistic color gene.
These two genes display incomplete dominance. This means that the wild-type color and paler leucistic color blend together. They have softer, warmer colors than a wild-type.
Blue eyed leucistic pythons have two copies of the leucistic color gene.
That is why they look completely white. They do not have dark brown on their backs.
BEL ball pythons only have the blue and yellow pigment. This is why they have blue eyes and sometimes have faint blue-grey or yellow markings on the body.
Blue eyed leucistic ball pythons are very rare in the wild.
Sadly, their light color is not ideal for life in the forest.
Being white makes it difficult for them to hunt and camouflage from predators. The wild-type ball python has black, brown, and beige colors that help it to blend into the forest. They need to hide from predators like birds of prey, hyenas, and even leopards!
Another reason why wild blue eyed leucistic ball pythons are rare is because they can only be produced by morphs that are all considered captive-bred.
Color morphs like the Lesser, Butter Ball, Het Russo, and Mojave do not breed well in the wild. These color morphs generally do not survive long in the wild. They often do not live long enough to produce offspring.
Captive-bred blue eyed leucistic ball pythons were once rare, but breeders now understand the genetics of this morph.
BEL ball pythons are now quite common, though they are still one of the more expensive morphs. Babies sell for anywhere between $400 and $1,000 depending on their color and size.
The rarest and most expensive are pure white individuals.
These white snakes have no gray or yellow markings and are prized by breeders and keepers.
Appearance and Size
Blue eyed leucistic ball pythons are mainly white. They are especially beautiful due to their white coloring and ice blue eyes.
Some specimens have no patterns on their head, back, or sides.
Other individuals may have subtle patterns.
If patterning is visible it should be a blue-purple or yellow. This is because the blue eyed lucy still has blue pigment. If the pattern is not blueish, it may not be a true blue eyed leucistic ball python.
Their appearance can also change depending on the morph of their parents.
An example of this is the Mojave x Butter Ball which will often have a yellow dorsal stripe.
Breeders recommend breeding two different parent morphs to create a BEL. This is true for other ball python morphs like the banana. This decreases the chance of the offspring having undesirable traits.
Using parents of the same morph can give the offspring undesirable colors. For example a Mojave x Mojave will often have smudges of grey-blue on the head and a yellow stripe or speckles on the back.
It can also create genetic problems for the offspring. For example, both Butter Ball x Butter Ball and Lesser x Lesser combinations produce extremely bug-eyed offspring.
Breeding Mojaves and Het Russos with other morphs seems to produce the whitest morphs.
As babies these morphs are 10 to 17 inches long, like all ball pythons. By the time they are adults, they measure between 2 and 5 feet long. Huge six-foot specimens have been discovered in the wild!
Blue eyed leucistic ball pythons live from twenty to thirty years when they are well cared for.
Their lifespan is similar to most ball pythons, but all species are susceptible to some health issues. These diseases are common but easily treatable when identified early:
|Dermatitis||Skin shedding in pieces, shedding too quickly, or not shedding at all.||Ticks, mites, or burns from heat lamps or hot rocks. Unclean tanks or cold temperatures encourage dermatitis and can lead to severe skin infections.|
|Respiratory Disease||Labored breathing, mucus running from the nose or mouth.||A cold, damp tank. Improper humidity and temperature causes the snake’s immune system to become weak, leading to a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection in the lungs.|
|Stomatitis||A white, cheesy substance forms in the mouth. In more severe cases, scabs appear inside the mouth, teeth come loose, and a snake will stop eating.||Caused by incorrect temperature, humidity, or hygiene in the tank.|
Some morphs have known genetic problems.
For example, a neurological problem called head wobble syndrome has been observed in spider, woma, champagne, powerball, super sable, and super spotnose morphs.
Caramel morphs are susceptible to spinal kinking. Super cinnamon and super black pastel morphs can have spinal kinking and a duckbill shaped nose.
Luckily, blue eyed leucistic ball pythons have some of the healthiest genetics.
Their only known physical deformity is the tendency to have bug eyes (i.e. bulging eyes). This unusual characteristic does not appear to be linked to any health problems (i.e. eye infections or retaining eye caps) and they reportedly have perfect eyesight.
Bug eyes seem only to appear in Butter X Butter, Lesser X Lesser, and Butter x Letter combinations.
This is why blue eyed leucistic ball pythons should ideally be bred from at least one Mojave or Het Russo parent.
Breeders agree that owners should avoid breeding bug-eyed individuals in case this eye condition worsens over generations.
In the wild all ball pythons are carnivores, they mainly eat small rodents.
They are ambush predators so they quickly strike at prey and then constrict it with their muscular bodies. They do not chase their prey.
A blue eyed leucistic ball python’s diet is no different to any other type of ball python. You can find detailed information on feeding them in our ball python care sheet.
Ball pythons are a slow-growing and long-lived species. They do not need to eat every day, even when they are young.
Pet species can be fed small or medium-sized rats, depending on their age and size:
- Baby and young species should be fed a baby rat or mouse every 5 days.
- Between 12-24 months, they eat 1 subadult rat once a week.
- At 2-4 years old, ball pythons can be fed a small adult rat every 7 to 10 days.
- Adults over 4 years old should have a medium adult rat every 10-14 days.
Blue Eyed Leucistic Ball Python Price
Due to their rarity the BEL ball python is one of the more expensive morphs.
A blue eyed leucistic ball python costs between $400 and $1,000 depending on its color and size. You should plan to spend around $700 for a well-bred, healthy specimen with a clean white color.
Blue eyed leucistic ball pythons for sale are not found in big, mainstream pet shops. You are more likely to find them in locally owned exotic pet stores or from a private breeder. Private breeders are the best option.
Buying a captive-bred species is also a safer and better option. Not only will you receive a healthy, well-adjusted ball python, but you will also be ensuring the safety of wild populations.
Many ball pythons are still caught in the wild and sold on online marketplaces. Wild species often die in transit, have parasite infections, and become stressed in captivity.
Healthy snakes should display behaviors such as:
- Moving slowly but decisively around its enclosure.
- Coiling gently around a person’s hands or arms.
- Frequent tongue flicking.
- Resting their heads on objects.
- Periscoping. This is when a python raises its head while exploring.
An unhealthy or frightened snake may display behaviors like:
- Curling into a ball.
- Head forming an ‘S’ shape. This indicates they are preparing to strike.
- Biting. This only happens when they are very frightened.
- Signs of disease or injury
A reputable breeder will never sell you a sick or injured ball python.
Good breeders or vendors should openly discuss your blue eyed leucistic ball python’s lineage, history, and behavior.
Wherever you source your morph from, the seller should tell you its specific morph and parents. These morphs look very similar and cannot be told apart by appearance alone, so make sure to ask the breeder.
Signs of a good breeder include:
- Excellent knowledge on breeding, genetics and morphs.
- Showing good communication skills and willingness to answer questions.
- Being transparent about snakes currently in their care (i.e. showing photos of tanks and snakes).
- Providing guarantees and customer support.
A blue eyed leucistic is a rare and beautiful type of ball python morph.
They are a striking morph known for their white scales and ice blue eyes.
This morph can be bred from any combination of Lesser, Butter Ball, Het Russo, and Mojave parents. However, they should ideally be bred from at least one Mojave or Het Russo parent to prevent bug-eye health problems.
Blue eyed leucistic ball pythons for sale are now fairly easy to find, despite being very rare in the wild.
They cost $700 on average and can be purchased from snake breeders or exotic pet shops. You will not find them in mainstream or small pet shops.
Finding a responsibly sourced and well-handled ball python is important. With a good feeding routine and health monitoring your snake should live a long life of 20 to 30 years.
We would love to see photos of your BEL ball python in the comments section below!