A Comprehensive Guide to Morphs and Morph Breeds in Reptiles

When it comes to morphs, in the world of snakes and reptiles, there is quite a bit beneath the surface. We’re sure that you’ve at least heard this term floating around, and if you have, you might be wondering what a morph is. Luckily, this guide will show you everything you need to know about morphs in the reptile world.

Morphs in the reptile world are highly sought after, and if they can be bred or replicated, that’s where we see some of the newest snake breeds on the market.

With all of that being said, you probably have a lot of questions and trust me, that’s totally acceptable. You can always feel free to refer back to this guide for any questions you may have. You ready to take a look?

Some of the things we’ll be going over today are:

  • What is a morph?
  • What is a ball python morph?
  • What is a corn snake morph?
  • What is a leopard gecko morph?
  • How are morphs bred?
Corn snake as pets
The hypomelanistic corn snake features reduced black around the saddles. They also tend to be much brighter in color.

So if any of those questions pique your interest, you can take comfort knowing that you’re in the right place. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure you pay close attention to each section as you learn more about snake morphs altogether.

There is a lot to take in, and we get that, so make sure you take the time to fully understand each section before you move on. While the main focus here today will be snakes, we’ll also be showing you about the leopard gecko morph as well.

So without wasting any more of your precious time, let’s dive right in, and take a look at everything you need to know about reptile morphs.

You ready?

So what exactly is a morph breed? What does the phrase mean, and how are they different?

Now, before we get into the meat and potatoes of this article, we first need to understand what exactly a morph is. The term may sound like something out of a horror movie, but please keep in mind that morphs are becoming increasingly popular these days. So this section will leave you with all of the knowledge you need to understand exactly what a morph is.

So what does the word “morph” actually mean?

A morph is actually not all that far fetched, and the explanation is actually quite simple. A morph, in the world of reptiles, commonly refers to a mutation within the snake’s gene pool. So anytime you hear that phrase being thrown around, all that’s being discussed is a mutation in the snake’s genes. Pretty interesting right?

Why do people take a liking to morphs if they’re only a genetic mutation?

Now, if you’re a reptile enthusiast like we are, you might be aware of the fact that morph type snakes fetch a much higher price. If you’re wondering why you’ll want to pay close attention to what follows. Also, for the purpose of this article, we’ll be referring to the genetic mutation that has to do with color variation in snakes.

The primary reason that snake morphs are more highly valued is due to the fact that they’re much rarer. Rarity is key in the world of reptiles, and morph breeds are very difficult to find out in the wild. This is due to the fact that these types of variations are very difficult to replicate due to specific traits. It can take years for genetic mutations to occur, and while it might happen every now and again, it’s extremely rare. If you’re feeling a little lost, don’t worry, because we’ll be touching on the breeding aspect in another section.

What does this mutation look like?

There are tons of morph breeds out in the wild, and breeders do their best to make this occur naturally at a much faster pace. These breeds are highly sought after, because they typically have much more color variation than their non-morph counterparts.

Some common examples of this can range from:

  • Differences in skin patterns
  • Brighter colors
  • The albino quality trait
  • Two heads (which is nearly impossible to find)
  • Colors that are more dull and solid
  • Even differences in behavior can occur
  • Eye color
  • Breeding capacity
  • And many more
Female leopard gecko.
Tremper lavender eclipse.

Now two heads may not be a color morph, but it’s definitely important to note that not all morphs are color-based. In the reptile world, there are thousands of different genetic variations out there. Plus, in the later sections, we’ll also be showing you what this process looks like in detail. Also, as a bit of a fun fact for you, snake morphs were actually super uncommon until the 1990s. People were getting bored with the same old snake, and when morphs came about, the market was revolutionized.

Now please keep in mind that we’re only scratching the surface of morphs in this article. The science behind morphs is very complex, but luckily, this is all you need to know if you want to at least be familiar with what the industry lingo means.

What is a ball python morph?

Now that you know about what a morph is in the wild, chances are you’ll want to learn about some of the common types that exist these days. Therefore, this section will show you everything you need to know about the ball python morph. The ball python used to be a common snake, and market appeal was on the decline, but all of that changed when the Albino ball python came to town. This was one of the first morphs discovered, and from there, people started to become intrigued.

How many types of ball python morphs are there, and why are they highly sought after?

Before we answer this question, we need to first establish what exactly occurred to lead to this trend of rare ball python snakes. Ball python snakes, as we mentioned before, are one of the most common tropical snake pets. A local trip down to the pet store will show you that these snakes go for a pretty low price, and you can seriously find them for about $25 apiece.

While $25 apiece seems cheap for a snake, the reason is due to morph breeds making their way onto the market. The albino ball python snake was one of the first breeds discovered, and their pale complexion immediately led to high desirability. All of a sudden, tropical snake collectors were ready to shell out upwards of $7,000 in the 90’s for this particular breed of ball python snake. This is due to the fact that ball pythons tend to be much less vibrant in color, and when people discovered options like the albino morph, it really changed the game.

So not only did morph breeds change the way we look at snakes in general, but it actually revolutionized the snake trade. All of a sudden snakes were selling for more, and breed fixation became all the rage in the ’90s and early 2000s.

Before we go any further, let’s stop for a second and take a look at some of the different morph breeds out there that exist for ball python snake:

Killer Blast ball python
Killer Blast ball python.
Super Mohave ball python.
Super Mohave ball python.
A Pied ball python.
A Pied ball python.
Bumblebee pinstripe fire
Bumblebee pinstripe fire.

Ball python photos kindly supplied by mary_python and the Holy Balls. Mary is an aspiring breeder from Texas. Be sure to follow her Instagram page!

So while the ball python snake used to be a basic tropical snake, after the 1990s, every single snake that’s imported is thoroughly examined. This is due to the fact that people are constantly looking for new morph breeds, and with each new breed, a whole new market opens up.

Pretty cool for a ball python right? Not only are ball pythons basic snakes these days, but some are still worth thousands of dollars. So think about how much you could make discovering a new morph breed because the potential is really limitless. Of course, you’ll need to know how to breed these snakes, but don’t worry, we have more for you on that as you read on.

hypomelanistic corn snake
Hypomelanistic corn snake

What is a corn snake morph?

Now, believe it or not, there is more than just one type of snake morph out in the wild. So in this section, we’ll be going over the corn snake morph. Corn snakes are one of the most popular snakes on the market, but a lot changed once corn snake morphs started making their way into circulation.

What makes corn snakes special?

Corn snakes, as a breed, are typically found in the southernmost areas of the United States. They’re not too large, and if you’re from southern United States chances are you may have run into one on accident. These snakes are great for morph breeding, because there is such a large abundance of them, plus you don’t even need to pay high import costs.

Now, just like ball pythons, morph breeding became very popular in the early 1990s. Not only did this become popular, but it really took off quite well. This is due to the fact that the corn snake is one of the most commonly domesticated snakes in the entire United States. Therefore, there were plenty of snakes to breed, and as of 2019, there are hundreds of different corn snake morphs out there.

Before we dive right into what each breed looks like, and take a look at a few different morph breeds, you need to know what corn snakes started out as. Typically, corn snakes tend to have a red color to them, and the shade can sometimes vary along with the patterns. While these snakes are much more vibrant than ball pythons, people still grew bored with the basic set of color options that were on the market. This is where morph breeding came into play and really put corn snakes back on the map.

Let’s take a look at a few different corn snake morph species you might be familiar with:

  • The albino breed (just like the ball python, albino breeds are highly sought after)
  • The oaktree breed ( a more olive type color and pattern)
  • The snow breed (resembles the albino breed, but doesn’t share the same sensitivity)
  • Lavender breeds (purple tint)
  • Black breeds (a jet black variant)

So now that you about a few of the breeds, you can really see how different morph breed variations can be from the standard patterns and colors of the corn snake breed. Morph breeds allow these snakes to take on new colors, and those colors help escalate the value of the snake.

Is there also a lucrative market for corn snake morphs?

While the price range for morph breeds of the corn snake is not as expensive as their ball python counterparts

So now that you about a few of the breeds, you can really see how different morph breed variations can be from the standard patterns and colors of the corn snake breed. Morph breeds allow these snakes to take on new colors, and those colors help escalate the value of the snake.

Is there also a lucrative market for corn snake morphs?

While the price range for morph breeds of the corn snake is not as expensive as their ball python counterparts, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a market for it. That’s actually quite the contrary because unlike ball pythons, these snakes are much easier to find. Plus, at the end of the day, nobody likes waiting around for fresh imports.

Therefore, while the price per sale might be a bit lower when looking at a corn snake morph, this is offset by the amount of options you have at your disposal. It’s fairly simple to start breeding corn snake morphs, and avoiding the import process, well that’s great on its own.

Regardless of whether or not you want to start breeding corn snake morphs, it’s good to know why they’re valued the way they are. Every corn snake morph is different, and you’ll definitely be surprised by what you find out there.

What is a Leopard Gecko morph?

Finally, there is definitely one last type of morph that you should know about. The Leopard Gecko morph is quite the reptile, and you’ll definitely want to know all about it. Luckily, this section will show you everything you need to know about the wildly popular Leopard Gecko morph.

Super Mack Snow leopard gecko
Super Mack Snow leopard gecko

So what exactly is a Leopard Gecko?

Leopard geckos are one of the most popular morph breeds on the market, and you’ll definitely want to know why. First, you need to know exactly what this reptile is. The leopard gecko is a breed of lizard that is small, adorable, and bound to even entice people who have no interest in reptiles.

Now, in the wild, these geckos got their name from their leopard type color scheme. Therefore, out in the world, these lizards tend to have a yellow base pigment mixed with black dots. Starting to see where it got the name from right? The shade of yellow might vary between brightness, but you’ll definitely know what you’re looking at when you come across it.

What do the morph options look like?

The leopard gecko morph is one of the most common reptile morphs out there, and this is due to the fact that there are hundreds of different color combinations on the market. People have been breeding these geckos for ages, and the results have definitely been quite inspiring.

So let’s take a look at some of the common Leopard Gecko morph breeds you’ll find on the market:

  • Albino based breeds (solid white skin)
  • Blizzard breeds (kind of resembles cookies and cream ice cream)
  • Morphs that have no pattern to them
  • Morphs that have striped patterns
  • Red-colored morphs
  • Blue colored morphs
  • And almost any other color or pattern you can think of

So while the normal variant may still look quite nice, the morph options really help this little gecko standout. Also, please keep in mind that these are only a few different options, and you can definitely find all different types of color combinations on the market.

Is there a market for breeding a leopard gecko morph?

While the lizard market is not quite as lucrative as the snake morph market, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t money to be made. As you do some more research, you’ll also find that each breeder tends to have many different classifications for each morph. This might sound confusing, but it actually grants you a bit more breeding freedom as well. Sure, you can find traditional leopard geckos in stores like Petco, but you’ll definitely need a breeder for more rare breeds like the albino breed.

Morph breeds are not exclusive to snakes, and the leopard gecko morph is definitely living proof of that. Plus, with so many different variations, the sky is the limit when it comes to breeding these lizards.

How are morphs bred? Is it a lucrative industry?

Now that you know about what a morph is, and some of the different types out there in the wild, you might be ready to learn about how to breed them. This section will show you what that process looks like, and even if you’re just looking to create some interesting color combinations, you’ll definitely find plenty of breeding value in this section.

How are morphs bred? Is it a lucrative industry?

Now that you know about what a morph is, and some of the different types out there in the wild, you might be ready to learn about how to breed them. This section will show you what that process looks like, and even if you’re just looking to create some interesting color combinations, you’ll definitely find plenty of breeding value in this section.

How are snake morphs bred?

Snake morphs are bred once a specific morph is first discovered out in the wild. This is an exciting time, but unfortunately, the breeding process is not always going to work. To show you what we mean, let’s use corn snakes as an example.

When a new corn snake morph is discovered, breeders will attempt to replicate the mutation. This is done by pairing the new corn snake morph up with a corn snake that’s not a morph. Once the two snakes mate, the cycle either continues or the morph breed ends with the discovered breed. We’ll touch more on how this process works in just a second.

Why does it work this way?

Now, for this part, you might want to brush up on a bit on your biology knowledge, because this is going to sound like something straight out of science lecture. Here we go.

When it comes to passing down traits, there are either dominant or recessive traits. Dominant traits are more likely to be passed onto offspring, whereas recessive traits tend to be overshadowed by dominant traits. Therefore, when a corn snake has a dominant mutation, that trait is passed along to the offspring. Unfortunately, if the trait is recessive, chances are that the offspring will not receive that mutation.

A more in-depth look into what goes into breeding looks like this:

  • Phenotype breeding (physical traits)
  • Genotype breeding (the genetics of a species)
  • Linebreeding (is what we just showed you above, one species is bred with another in an attempt to produce the same result)
  • If a species shows dominance in regard to two different dominant traits, this is referred to as codominant
  • Homozygous means that a particular species will carry two of the same traits (homo=same)
  • Heterozygous essentially means the exact opposite (a species has two different traits, one from each of its parents)

To simplify this answer a bit, think of breeding new morph snakes as a bit of a gamble. When new morph is discovered, it’s not always going to become a new breed. This is why breeding morph reptiles is difficult, and why they’re so rare. The result is also never guaranteed unless you’re working with dominant traits.

This is why finding new morph breeds can be so lucrative because it’s hard to replicate the process. This adds value to the individual snake, but can also make you quite a bit of money if you begin breeding your new morph breed. It’s not always an easy process, but it’s a process that can pay off in the long run.

Tremper lavender eclipse.
Tremper lavender eclipse.

The last thing you’ll want to no about morph breeding is what type of breeding you’ll want to do. You can either breed for the betterment of a species, or you can simply breed a physically more appealing variant.

This is broken down into two separate options such as:

  • Breeding with genetic traits in mind is designed to change things like eye color, the size of facial features, and other factors that make up the genes of a species
  • Breeding with physical traits in mind will result in small changes such as the color pattern, skin pigment, and pattern itself (when dealing with reptile species)

So before you start diving into the world of breeding morphs, you’ll want to make sure you at least have an idea of the direction you want to go in.

When it comes to breeding morph species, while the market is lucrative, you need to know what to expect. Having an outcome in mind, or a breed of focus can go a long way in helping the breeding process. Therefore, always make sure that you have a plan.

Conclusion

Now, we know we threw a whole lot of information at you, so make sure you go back through each section to make sure you have a solid grasp of the material if you’re still feeling a little bit lost. Plus, when it comes to breeding morphs, you can make quite a bit of money along the way if you’re here for the breeding aspect.

Whether you want to breed morph snakes, care for a morph snake, or are just curious about them altogether, you can take comfort in knowing that you know the basics of the reptile trade and lingo.

Breeding these snakes can prove to be a lucrative industry, and when compared to standard breeds, these snakes will definitely impress anyone who comes across them. They might be rare, but it is possible to breed them on your own, and if you get lucky you can even stumble upon a new morph breed.

So now that you know the facts, what will you do with your knowledge of morph breeds?

A Comprehensive Guide to Morphs and Morph Breeds in Reptiles

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