Spider Ball Python
The Spider morph gene is a base morph mutation brought to market by Kevin McCurley of the New England Reptile Distribution aka NERD. It’s a base morph mutation meaning it’s a single gene morph that used to make several of the founding designer ball pythons (designer meaning multi gene) ever produced.
This mutation is in my opinion one of the best, if not, the best gene for creating the nicest designer ball python morphson the planet. I’ve had great success with this gene and it’s seems to be a very strong thriving gene overall as my spiders all seem to be very aggressive feeders as well as terrific breeders. I’ve had male spider ball python combo animals like the Queen/Bee (Spider x Pastel x Lesser)
successfully breed as early as 12 weeks of age! Yes, you read that correctly I’ve bred 3 month old male ball pythons on more than on occasion. As great as this gene is as a combo animal as well as it’s excellent feeding and breeding history there is a downside to this gene. Well, maybe not a downside, but it’s an imperfection so to speak and that’s the wobble.
I often get asked about the “wobble” as it relates to the spider ball python gene. The term “wobble” was coined when ball python breeders who produced spider ball pythons noticed that they seemed to “wobble” their heads when excited/stressed in some extreme cases they would even spin upside-down and just flat out act goofy. It’s thought to be a neurological issue that is some how connected to the spider gene. Nobody knows for sure what causes this particular behavior and I until someone is willing to put down some serious money to have it researched in debt we’ll probably never know. Allow me to answer some of the most frequently asked questions I get regarding the wobble. Keep in mind; these answered are based on my own personal experience working with the gene and nothing else.
Was the “wobble” caused from inbreeding? In my opinion, absolutely not, especially being that the spider gene is a dominate gene. Being that the gene is dominate means that line breeding isn’t necessary in order to reproduce the mutation so breeding spider ball pythons to normal non-gene carrying ball pythons has worked to out crossed spiders right out of the gate.
Do all spiders have the “wobble”? Again, in my opinion and experience working with the gene, my answer is yes, they all do. Now, with that being said, some spiders hardly have any “wobble” at all with it barely being noticeable, while other spiders may have more severe cases.
Can the “wobble” be minimized? Yes. I believe it can be minimized through incubation temperatures. Incubation temperatures seem to be critical for determining what degree spider ball pythons will “wobble”. I’ve produced very few “wobblers” that showed extreme symptoms like spinning upside-down and such and it just some happens for those few animals a temperature spike in the incubator did occur. Starting back in the 2010 breeding season I began incubating all my ball python eggs at 86-87 degrees which appears to have minimized the “wobble” to where it’s hardly noticeable.
Can stress trigger a “wobbling” episode?Yes. Stress associated with shipping, feeding, handling and even breeding can trigger “wobbling” episodes from animals that never really shows many symptoms in the past. For example, just about every ball python containing the spider gene whether it’s a single gene spider or multi-gene animal I have received has showed symptoms of “wobbling” the day I received the box in the mail. After a couple days settling in it seems to dissipate.
Does the “wobble” affect feeding and breeding? In my experience it does
not. Spiders seem to feed and breed extremely well, even the few sever wobblers I’ve had fed and bred really well.
Final thoughts, if you’re going to work with the spider gene in your collection you have to either accept the “wobble” or not that’s the bottom line. If you cannot accept the “wobble” then this gene isn’t for you. I’m very comfortable working with this gene and it’s actually one of my personal favorite genes in ball pythons to work with. When it comes to the combo game nothing beats the spider combos!