The clown ball python has a lovely pattern with bright blotches, brilliant coloration, and a fantastic temperament.
Caring for this morph is similar to caring for any other Python regius morph.
Let’s take a look at the temperament, breeding potential, and other great characteristics of this morph.
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Python regius Background Information
Ball pythons, Python regius, are medium-sized pythons from Sub-Saharan Africa.
Their preferred habitat is woodlands and scrublands with tree cover.
Ball pythons can be found near fresh water sources, which they dive into to escape the heat.
In the 1980s and 1990s, breeders imported the first wild-caught Python regius to the United States and other Western countries.
At first, these wild-caught specimens were only breeding material to make more ball pythons.
The species bred readily in captivity. This resulted in the snake gaining in popularity with the pet trade, making it affordable.
The demand for ball pythons continued to expand as breeders unlocked their genetic potential for coloration and patterns.
The mid to late 1990s saw breeders intentionally breeding ball pythons to create new color and pattern variations.
As new types and colors came into being, the first morphs were born.
Those first basic morphs were the ancestors of the designer morphs we have today, but not the clown ball python (more about that in the next section).
Given the preference of this species to be near water, some theorize that these animals may prey on fish..
What are Clown Ball Pythons?
Clown balls are one of the many designer ball morphs on the market. The clown ball has brighter colors and a slightly different pattern than most balls.
The clown ball can reliably carry the clown gene to its descendants, though it won’t be physically visible in all of the offspring.
Because the clown gene isn’t dominant, the color and pattern may not express themselves until the offspring are bred with another snake that carries this recessive gene.
Unlike many other designer balls, the clown ball isn’t the result of a fluke that popped up in the domestic gene pool.
Some breeders found a ball in the wilds of Africa that had unusual head coloration and a wide band running across its back.
They took the snake home with them, and bred the clown morph from it.
That first clown had a tear-shaped marking on its face, which reminded the breeders of those sad-looking clown pictures you always see. That’s where clowns got their name.
Clown Ball Python Appearance
So what do clown balls look like? Thanks to the recessive gene, these animals can take a wide range of appearances.
If you were to cross two pastel balls that both carried the gene for clown and the gene for axanthic coloration, then the resulting offspring would be axanthic clown.
They’d have the clown patterning, but with axanthic coloration, which means that either the red or green pigment (or both) is missing from the snake’s chemical makeup.
The result would be a somewhat faded animal that lacks coloration but has the clown pattern.
Two normal balls, who both have the clown gene, would result in offspring with the clown pattern.
The clown pattern consists of a wide dorsal stripe with occasional blotches or narrow bands on the sides.
The wide dorsal stripe which stretches the length of the body is the major defining characteristic.
How Big Do Clown Ball Pythons Get?
Clowns reach the same length as other balls: around five feet, with females being longer than males.
Buying Clown Ball Pythons
Finding a clown ball python today is MUCH easier than it was a couple of years ago.
There used to be no real way of telling whether someone that was selling ball pythons was a reputable breeder.
Today, it’s much easier to find a professional breeder where you can buy a clown ball python.
The first thing you ought to know when you’re planning on buying ball pythons is that you should NEVER buy snakes on a general listing site.
Websites that specialize in general adverts have ads from many inexperienced backyard breeders and even people selling their friends’ animals.
A reputable dealer will give you specifics about the genetic history of each of their animals.
The BEST place to buy your new clown ball python is at a reptile convention or expo.
Regional reptile expos take place throughout the US and offer the opportunity for new keepers to buy everything from ball pythons to leopard geckos.
Repticons and expos are also an excellent way to get in touch with the community of people who keep reptiles. Often, you’ll even get to speak to the breeder who produced the ball.
Not everyone wants to drive the distance to their nearest expo for reptiles, though, and a day surrounded by people isn’t everyone’s idea of a good time.
If that’s you, then you still have some excellent options. Reptile-specific online marketplaces like MorphMarket offer excellent opportunities for reptile enthusiasts.
You can see many ball python morphs, other snake species, and gecko morphs from registered breeders around the country.
The breeders who appear on these websites are carefully screened to ensure that they are reputable.
When you buy a snake from this type of platform, they’ll ship your new baby with express couriers. You can expect the snake to arrive in 48-72 hours.
Some pet stores also carry ball python morphs, though you always need to be careful when buying a ball python from a general pet store.
Ask which breeder supplied the ball python, and try to get more information before deciding to buy a clown at a pet shop.
To ensure that you have a healthy and captive snake, obtain one from a reputable breeder.
How Much Do Clown Ball Pythons Cost?
The clown ball python isn’t the cheapest ball python morph, but these snakes are also far frombeing the most expensive.
You can expect to pay between $200 and $300 for a standard clown ball python.
If you buy a more designer clown morph, it may be considerably more expensive.
For example, an axanthic clown ball python may cost up to $5,000 because the recessive axanthic gene is highly valued by breeders and keepers.
Caring for Your Clown Ball Python Morph
There’s a common misconception among new keepers that each morph has its own care requirements.
Fortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Your new clown will be happy as long as you meet its housing, feeding, and temperature requirements.
Check out our comprehensive ball python care sheet for the full scoop on how to care for your new clown.
Clown Ball Python Breeding
While it may be tempting to breed your clown, you should bear a few things in mind.
A clown doesn’t have the genetic problems of spider morphs, which is excellent, so you have no ethical concerns.
The only problem with trying to breed a clown to create another clown is a practical one.
Namely, the clown gene isn’t dominant, so you’ll either:
- have to cross two clowns (an expensive endeavor) to get offspring that are het (have it twice) for the clown gene
- cross your clown with another morph to get offspring, then breed one of the offspring to an unrelated ball with the clown gene to make more clowns.
If you want to make something like a pastel clown, the process is even more complicated because you have to find a pastel with the clown gene.
Banana Clown Ball Python
The banana clown is bright yellow or orange and combines the clown pattern with the banana color.
This is a beautiful clown and more affordable than some of the other designer clowns.
Pastel Clown Ball Python
We’re sure you’ve guessed this one before we tell you. The pastel clown combines the brighter color of a pastel with the pattern and light tan of the clown.
This clown morph is altogether lighter and features the impressionist pictures that the clown always carries on its face.
Killer Clown Ball Python
The killer clown is a beautiful cross of a super pastel and a clown.
It has the bright coloration of the super pastels, combined with the exaggerated pattern and lighter tans of the clown.
Since it’s bred from a super and not a normal pastel, this clown morph has an even brighter coloration than a standard pastel clown.
Clown Pied Ball Python
A clown pied is produced by crossing two non-dominant genes: one for pied and one for clown.
The snakes used could be a pastel that carries both genes or even a spider. As a result, the appearance of this clown morph is quite diverse.
Typically, they have the broader band or facial pattern of the clown, with the interrupted pattern and white blotches of the pied.
Successfully producing these animals is difficult, and takes multiple generations, so they can easily fetch prices of up to $5,000 per snake.
Albino Clown Ball Python
As you can probably guess, the albino clown is a cross of animals with albino and clown genes.
This clown combines the coloration deficiency of albinos with the pattern of a clown. They typically have the clown pattern in shades of peach and light orange.
Axanthic Clown Ball Python
As we mentioned earlier, crossing a clown and an axanthic gives you a ball with the patterning of the clown and the colorlessness of the axanthic.
Despite their faded coloration, these animals are beautiful and have a very dramatic appearance.
Leopard Clown Ball Python
The leopard clown is a fascinating morph. It combines the dominant spotted beauty of the leopard with the wide band of the clown.
A leopard clown is usually a sort of tan or orange-brown with darker brown bands and spots.
What Genes Make a Clown Ball Python?
As we mentioned earlier, the clown gene wasn’t separated and bred from one of the existing categories and color sets.
Instead, the gene was a new introduction from the African pythons. VPI (Vida Preciosa International Incorporated) first found and produced clowns in 1999, providing needed new breeding stock and patterns to the industry.
Do Clown Ball Pythons Have Wobble?
Wobble, or head wobble, is a disturbing genetic condition that causes a ball to lose control of its head. The condition is painful, and subtracts from the snake’s life quality.
The clown gene comes from undomesticated stock, and lacks the spider gene. For this reason, it is free from wobble.
Or rather, a clown morph is free of wobble, without interference. Clown isn’t a dominant gene though, so it’s been bred to a myriad of other morph types to create a new pattern or color.
If there’s any chance that your baby clown has spider blood in it, it may suffer from head wobble or kinking.
ALL spiders are prone to wobble, as are their descendants, so always look into which animals were combined to get the baby you’re thinking of buying.
Even if someone introduced the spider pattern three generations back, your clown, or any baby produced from it, may present with wobble.
Clowns are a wonderful morph and make excellent pets. Check out our comprehensive morph guide to learn more about other morphs.
You might also want to try our ball python eggs article where we answer your common questions.
Which morph are you buying? Let us know in the comments.