Rainbow Python: Background, Genetics, & Fun Facts Explained

Yes, the rainbow reticulated python (retic) that went viral on various social media platforms does exist.

Rainbow Python on black background
The rainbow python has a beautiful iridescent appearance which makes it shimmer.

In fact, there are several types of rainbow pythons. Keep reading to find out more!

Facts of Every Color

  • Rainbow pythons are real.
  • There are more than one species of python that carries rainbow iridescence.
  • You can buy a snake with similar genes to the viral python, but it will look different.
  • The rainbow python in the news is a rainbow reticulated python bred at the Reptile Zoo in California.
  • This famous snake has two genes – the motley and the golden child – which combined to create a one-of-a-kind iridescent animal.

Are Rainbow Pythons Real?

Rainbow pythons are real.

In some cases, like the rainbow retic or a rainbow ball python, the rainbow effect is peculiar to certain morphs and the result of a genetic twist.

In other species, like the white-lipped python and the Brazilian rainbow boa, iridescence is a common feature in almost all members of the species.

If you’ve ever seen a drop of oil spread on a puddle of water, and make the whole puddle look like it has a rainbow floating on top of it, then you know how snake iridescence works.

A snake’s epidermis (outer layer of scales) operates in much the same way as a drop of oil.

It bends the light, thanks to the different distances and speeds that the light travels, which makes the snake appear rainbow-like, or like it’s shimmering.

Since the appearance is entirely linked to the outer layer of the snake’s skin and is linked to genes, you can breed some species to have iridescence.

White Lipped Python in sunshine
White lipped pythons have a beautiful sheen which reflects colors when they’re in sunlight.

Technically, it’s even possible to have an albino rainbow python, but that’s an uncommon occurrence. It’s more usual to see something like a black rainbow python.  

The Rainbow Python Everyone’s Talking About

The snake that has everyone talking is a rainbow reticulated python from the Reptile Zoo in the city of Fountain Valley, California.

This beautiful snake shimmers like a rainbow on amplifiers and reflects beautiful colors every way she turns.

The snake’s name is MyLove, and she was bred on-site at the zoo. She has the golden child gene, which causes the shimmer, and the motley gene which gives her the unique pattern.

This rainbow python isn’t a standard morph, and while there are many other pythons with similar genes they lack the distinct appearance of MyLove.

Perhaps, in the not-too-distant future, someone will manage to bring out that same depth of iridescence in other retics with the golden child gene.

Are Rainbow Pythons Poisonous?

The word poisonous refers to something that could kill you if you eat it. Unless you were to eat their venom glands, very few snakes are poisonous.

What you probably want to know is, are rainbow pythons venomous?

Rainbow pythons, like most pythons and boas, are constrictors.

Constrictors DON’T use venom to subdue or kill their prey.

These snakes wrap their bodies around the prey item in coils and slowly apply massive amounts of pressure till the creature suffocates.

Most constrictors, including rainbow pythons, are neither poisonous nor venomous.

Can You Find Rainbow Pythons for Sale?

If you’re looking for a rainbow reticulated python like the one that’s been amazing people on the news, you’re unlikely to find one for sale.

That particular snake is a genetic oddity that carries both the motley gene and the golden child gene.

While you might be able to buy a similar cross, there’s no guarantee that it will have the same look.

The rainbow retic at the Reptile Zoo was bred on-site, which means her genetics are different from those of many other retics in the pet trade.

It’s worth a try, though, and you could even try crossing snakes with desirable traits to see if you could make a second rainbow python.

If you’re going to go looking for a rainbow retic, be prepared to pay for it.

The closest version that we saw with the golden child gene and similar iridescence was going for nearly $1,000.

There are other rainbow python options, though, and even more rainbow snake species on the market.

The rainbow ball python is one option, which we’ll discuss more in the next section.

Brazilian rainbow boas are beautiful snakes with lovely iridescence and bright coloration. They can be a bit nippy until they get used to you, but they’re a lovely species all told.

Brazilian rainbow boa on leaves
The Brazilian rainbow boa is one of the beautiful “rainbow” snakes on the market.

The sunbeam snake is another species with fantastic iridescence that makes it look like someone dipped it in a liquid rainbow.

Another beautiful species with rainbow iridescence is the white-lipped python. These beautiful snakes are black with a rainbow sheen.

You can buy many of these species and morphs at a Repticon near you.

Another excellent option is buying online from a site like MorphMarket which stocks many different snakes from excellent breeders around the world.

Rainbow Ball Python

Rainbow ball pythons are one of the many beautiful morphs on the market. Unlike some other iridescent snakes, these animals tend to shimmer in small areas, rather than all at once.

Of course, all the snake’s scales have the potential to shimmer, but something about the way ball pythons move makes it less obvious than in the rainbow retic.

Thanks to the genetic makeup that creates the scenario, breeders can successfully create more rainbow ball pythons from the existing animals.

A rainbow ball python can be nearly any color or morph if the breeders put enough effort into getting the morph they want

Rainbow Reticulated Python

The iridescence that people call rainbow isn’t unheard of in the reticulated python. It’s called the golden child gene and makes a retic shimmer.

It’s fairly easy to find a python with this gene as long as you’re willing to pay the price tag.

However, merely having a retic with the golden child gene doesn’t mean that you’ll get a snake with all the iridescent beauty of THE rainbow python on the news.

That particular snake has a complex mix of the motley gene, which lengthens the snake’s circles and makes them connect, and the golden child gene.

There are other retics out there with both these genes, but without the impressive appearance of the rainbow python. This snake just won the genetic jackpot!

If you buy a python with the golden child gene, it might turn out to be all the rainbow python you want, or it might just have a minor shimmer. Either way, it will be beautiful.

There are many other beautiful and unusual reptiles out there. Check out our articles about the stormtrooper ball python, blood python, or rosy boa for a few interesting python relatives.

If you’re an intermediate or experienced keeper who can’t get enough of “rainbow” snakes, then check out our rainbow boa care guide.

Would you want a rainbow python? Let us know in the comments.

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