The piebald ball python is one of very few color and pattern mutation. It’s a simple recessive mutation which means both parents of the visual offspring must have at least one copy of the gene. As far as visually appealing goes just about nothing beats a pied, they such a dramatic animal that even non reptile folks have a lot of appreciate for the morph. If you’ve never seen one before they really are beautiful ball pythons that essentially have a normal wild type color with varying size white blotches through the animal. The white in piebald ball pythons are totally random with no two animals being exactly alike. I’ve produced pieds from pairings that have tons of white one year and turn around and throw low white animals the next year so there doesn’t seem to be a method to the madness. That being said, I’ve heard from a couple ball python breeders that breeding a high white animal to another high animal does tend to produce a larger number of high white offspring.
Background and History of the mutation
The first pied was discovered as far back as 1966 when a animal was imported in from Ghana, Africa. Talking with Brian Sharp during an interview on Reptile Radio (Internet talk radio program regarding the reptile hobby/industry) I learned from Brain that a lot of reptile keepers knew of pieds being imported in from Africa but they were being avoided or flat out killed because they believed that pieds were diseased or ill animals because of the white blotches all over their bodies. Brian Sharp went on to say he took a chance on a male that he eventually ended up selling to Pete Kahl in the mid 90’s. Pete Kahl went on to gather a group of pieds from varies other private collectors well before the mutation was proven to be genetic and started breeding trials in 1995 with a pied male to several normal wild type female ball pythons. Pete was a smart man to hold all of those offspring back and continue the breeding project over the next couple years and go on to producing the first captive born and bred pieds from a homozygous female in 1997.
Also, keep in mind that at this time pieds were marketed for 25,000 with an extremely high demand from the relatively small reptile community. Pete went on to do very well with the mutation in fact, I heard a story from another well know breeders where a deal went down at the Daytona reptile show back in the late 90’s which consists of over 6 figures for a pair of pieds. All cash money hundred dollar bills..wow
Odd behaviors or occurrences with the gene
Although, the pied gene is such an awesome gene it does come with its share of issues at least that’s my experience working with the mutation. First off, pieds are notoriously very poor finicky feeders. I’d have to say that pieds are among the worst off all ball python morphs for their feeding response. Being that they are poor feeders ultimately that poor feeding response equates to less than stellar breeding consistency. I’ve personally had little success with breeding homozygous animals as well as heterozygous animals. The last female pied that produced for me, died shortly after laying the clutch of eggs. I also bought a small group of heterozygous females back in ’05 and to date I’ve only produced a single clutch from these animals, a couple of these females are 7 year old virgins. Keep in mind that’s my own personal experience working with a small group of animals.
This gene has some fantastic combination potential being that it’s such a dramatic mutation. The lavender albino/Pied is one of the most beautiful ball python morphs in the world and I can only imagine what the banana/pied will look like. Double recessive combos are all the rage and just about everything looks better tricked out with large white blotches. Needless to say, this gene has awesome combo abilities as we’ve only just begun to see it’s full combination potential.
Current market status
With price of these animals dropping to a more mainstream acceptable level the market status for pieds is rock solid. They’re other mutation that just seems to sell extremely well to mainstream reptile keepers and private keepers which gives the market a lot of stability for this particular gene. Bottom line is, everyone wants a pied and most people can’t stop at one.