Fire Ball Python 101: Care, Genetics, Breeding & Price

Are you are looking for a ball python that is more unique than a “common” wild-type?

Fire ball python morphs come in beautiful glowing shades of gold and yellow. The typical browns of a normal wild-type are replaced with vibrant shades of gold.

They are a very distinctive and popular morph that has been around for more than 27 years!

These snakes are calm, shy and perfect for beginners. They also don’t come with the high price tag of many rarer morphs.

Keep reading for our guide to everything you need to know about the fire morph.

What Is A Fire Ball Python?

Fire Ball Python

The fire ball python, also known as the fireball, is a type of ball python morph.

There are hundreds of color and pattern morphs available for ball pythons. These morphs alter their “normal” colors and patterns.

Fireballs have similar patterns and markings, but their color is really where all the difference lies.

The fire morph turns the brown and olive colors of a normal wild-type into bright shades of yellow and gold. The black markings usually become brown and faded.

Colors on the fire ball python morph have been described as almost “glowing”, similar to the coral glow morph.

The fire gene is known as a “cleanup gene”, meaning that it usually brightens up the colors and patterns. This makes the snake’s markings and patterns seem almost backlit.

Fire ball python morphs are very common and were first bred in 1995.

This morph is incredibly popular for a variety of reasons, including its stunning looks, breeding versatility and robust health.

History

There is a lot of debate and mystery surrounding the history of this morph.

New England Reptile Distributors claim to be responsible, but UK breeder Erik Davies also claims he bred them first.

What we do know is that the first fire ball python showed up in 1995, more than 27 years ago.

Since then, its color enhancing traits and compatibility with other morphs have made it one of the most popular available.

Colors and Patterns

When comparing a fire ball python to a wild-type, this morph’s colors are much brighter.

The fire trait is known as a “clarifying” gene that adds a glow to the snake’s markings.

Fire ball pythons are bright yellow or gold, their brightness gives them a notable “glow”.

Their pattern will remain generally the same as a wild-type.

These markings include the common light-colored blotches running the length of the body, and the dark head with lines of light color above and below the eyes.

The difference is that the color of the patterning will be a slightly faded, lighter brown.

Size

You can expect your fire ball python to reach anywhere from 2-6 feet long.

The fire morph is still a type of ball python.

You should expect the size of your fireball to follow the same general size guidelines as a wild-type.

There are some differences in size based on gender, you will find that females get much bigger than the males. It is rare for a male to grow larger than 3.5 feet long.

On average, adult males are usually between 2 and 3 feet long and weigh between 900 grams and 1,500 grams. Adult females are usually between 4 and 6 feet long and weigh anywhere from 1,700 grams to 3,000 grams.

Genetics

The fire ball python gene is a co-dominant gene.

Co-dominant means the trait can be expressed at the same time as another gene. This is why it is able to be combined with so many other morphs to create new ones.

For example, if you breed a fire to a pastel ball python, you get a morph that expresses both genes at the same time (in this case a firefly morph).

If we look at the fire gene we will see two alleles, one from each parent. An allele is an alternative version of a gene that is passed from parent to offspring.

The fire ball python will have one fire allele (F) and one normal allele (N).

A wild-type ball python will have two normal alleles (NN).

You may be thinking, why don’t fire balls have two fire alleles (FF)?

Well, morphs with two fire alleles are actually called super fires.

The simplest way to breed a fire ball python is to pair a fire ball python (FN) with a normal wild-type (NN). In this instance, 50% of your offspring would be fire morphs, and 50% would be normal.

Other ways to breed them are breeding two fires together (FN x FN), and breeding a super fire and a wild-type (FF x NN).

Types Of Fire Ball Python Morphs

The fire morph is considered extremely versatile.

Breeders often keep this morph as it can be bred with a wide variety of other morphs to make highly desirable offspring.

One great example is the firefly morph which is a combination of fire x pastel.

This ability to combine traits, makes them highly sought after for those considering breeding ball pythons.

The fire ball python has no genetic issues associated with its gene. This makes them very safe for breeding and they have no known neurological or genetic issues like wobbles or corkscrewing.

Below are some well-known morphs that use the fire gene.

Super Fire

Super Fire Ball Python

The super fire morph is a ball python that has two fire alleles.

This snake can be bred by mating two fire ball pythons (FN x FN). The result is a super fire (FF) that has two fire alleles, which causes some pretty major changes.

The super fire is a leucistic snake with black eyes, almost no pigment and occasional light-yellow spotting.

Fire ball pythons are a glowing yellow or gold snake with brown patterning, while the super fire is almost completely white aside from their eyes which remain black, and the occasional light-yellow spotting on the back.

This retention of some pigment within the eyes is what makes them leucistic, instead of albino.

The super fire is one of the rarer and more expensive morphs. It has been known to cost anywhere between $300 and $500.

Fire Ivory

The fire ivory, also known as the fire super yellow belly, is a cross between the fire x ivory.

This snake is a very pale pinkish white, with no pattern other than a yellow stripe down the back and lavender/gray blushing.

The ivory morph is actually a combination of two yellow belly morphs.

The fire ivory has three expressed genes: fire gene, ivory gene and yellow belly gene.

Fire Pastel

Firefly morph

The fire pastel, also known as a firefly ball python, is bred by crossing a fire x pastel.

This snake combines the best traits of both the fire and pastel. The pastel gene is known to brighten the coloration, while the fire gene brightens and provides a “glow”.

Fire pastel’s have dark brown, washed out markings and a bright glowing yellow body. The yellow actually gets brighter as the python ages.

Banana Fire

The banana fire is hatched by crossing a fire with a banana morph.

This morph has a tan/cream body with striking yellow patterning across a speckled body. The fire gene brightens up all the colors.

Price

Fire ball pythons have been established for such a long time that it isn’t very hard to find someone selling this morph. They can be found through many reputable breeders, pet stores and reptile expos.

In general, you can buy a hatchling fire ball python for between $100 and $150.

There are a few things to look for to make sure you are buying a healthy ball python.

When picking out your hatchling you should ask the seller if you can handle it.

During handling you should try to inspect the snake’s body condition and make sure that they feel robust and firm. You should not be able to easily feel bones.

Their scales should be smooth, with no sores, lesions or stuck shed. You can also check for mites;, they will look like small black or red dots, often found between the scales.

The snake’s mouth should be pink with no drool, puss or cheese-like secretions.

Ball pythons are notably shy and will “ball” up as a defensive behavior. This may make health checks a little more difficult, but you should still be able to check most of these signs before you buy. Other signs that a hatchling may not be healthy are aggression, anxious behavior within their tank, and difficulty while handling.

Finally, make sure to ask the breeder what what type of prey they are feeding.

These snakes are known to be picky when it comes to food and sometimes switching between a mouse and rat may be all it takes to provoke a hunger strike.

Fire Ball Python Care Sheet

Caring for a fire morph is just the same as caring for any ball python.

If you are looking for an all-inclusive ball python care sheet, please check out our guide here.

Tank Setup

A 40-gallon glass tank is recommended for most adult ball pythons.

The enclosure should have a temperature gradient with ambient temperatures of between 75-80°F at one end and 80-85°F at the other.

A ceramic heat emitter can be used to establish a basking spot of between 88-92°F.

Use a substrate that retains humidity such as sphagnum moss, aspen, or coconut husk.

Humidity should stay between 50-75%, and not drop below 40%. Over misting may flood the substrate and cause humidity spikes.

Finally, ball pythons should have a minimum of two hides; one on each side of the temperature gradient.

They also like to explore and climb, so provide lots of plants, rocks and branches for enrichment.

Diet

When you bring home a juvenile fire ball python, they will usually start on a diet of mice.

They should be fed one subadult or adult mouse (depending on their size) once every 5 days.

The general rule of thumb for prey size is that the rodent should be the same size as your python at its widest point.

Feeding frozen-thawed or pre-killed mice is best.

Once they reach 12 months old, you will need to make the switch to rats.

A ball python between 12 and 24 months will need one subadult rat every 7 days.

Fully grown adults older than 4 will only need one medium adult rat every 10-14 days.

Health Issues

Some ball python morphs, such as the spider, champagne and super sable, are known to have genetic issues. These health issues can include things like head wobble, no sense of balance, kinking of the spine and other neurological issues.

The fire ball python is not known to have any genetic issues and is an extremely healthy ball python.

As with all ball pythons, fire morphs can become sick if not housed properly or fed the right diet.

Some of the most common illnesses include:

  • Obesity
  • Shedding issues
  • Mouth rot

Ball pythons are known to be picky eaters, but their inactive nature makes them prone to obesity.

If your python is fully round, has fat rolls, visible skin between scales and scale wrinkling or folding, it is likely obese and being overfed.

Shedding issues are another major problem.

Maintaining correct tank humidity levels is key to avoiding shedding issues.

You may see bits of skin stuck to your python or retained eye caps that can lead to health problems if not fixed.

Mouth rot is a common health problem with a lot of pet reptiles. This condition is an infection of the mouth or jaw that usually stems from injury or dirty tank conditions. Signs of mouth rot include cheese-like mouth discharge and drooling.

Behavior

A ball python will likely spend most of its time hiding away in their tank.

This mimics the behavior they display in the wild as they spend most of their time hiding in crevices.

Fire ball pythons are known for their shy nature. Instead of aggressive behaviors, they curl up into a “ball” and try to hide as best as possible.

Handling

With proper and regular handling, fire ball python morphs quickly become comfortable.

Some are known to enjoy time spent with their owners and even recognize them.

Ball pythons are not known for biting or striking, however, if you have an individual with a particularly strong feeding response, you can use a snake hook to remove them from their tank. This will help to establish the difference between “feeding time” and “handling time”.

Summary

The fire ball python is a beautiful color morph. Their golden colors, faded patterns and glowing markings make them unique.

They are a great choice for someone looking for a ball python that’s a little more unique than a normal wild-type.

Fire ball pythons were first bred in 1995 so you will have no trouble finding a reputable breeder.

You should easily be able to find a hatchling fire ball python for sale from a reputable breeder for between $100 and $150.

Breeding fire ball python morphs is pretty simple. The easiest combination is to breed a fire morph with a normal wild-type.

The co-dominant fire gene makes it simple to cross with other morphs too. Some of the most popular offspring are the firefly and super fire morphs.

If you are looking for a unique, beginner-friendly snake, this morph is a great choice.

About Nigel Robert

Nigel Robert Nigel is the managing editor at More Reptiles. He is a lifelong reptile lover, biologist and wildlife consultant who brings a decade of experience working in reptile conservation and consultancy. He joined our team in 2020 and when he’s not reviewing reptile care sheets, he’s out looking for reptiles in the wild!

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