Snakes come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. The ones that make the most eye-catching pets are those that stand out from the reptilian crowd. What better way to make a statement than to have no color at all?
What are some of the best white snakes you can keep as pets?
White colored snakes can be found in virtually every species and different types of white color morphs vary from snake to snake. However, the most popular white snakes to keep as pets are the albino and leucistic forms of ball pythons, corn snakes, and hognose snakes.
If you want to add a white snake to your reptile room, stay tuned and we will go through the best white snakes to keep as pets, how much they cost, and how rare they are. But first, let’s look at the science behind what makes a snake white.
How Do Snakes Become White?
Most snakes are not naturally white because they rely on mottled or dark coloration to camouflage with their surroundings in order to be effective predators and sometimes escape notice from their own predators such as raptors, coyotes, and foxes.
There are few snakes that live in areas of extreme cold such as the Arctic and Antarctic where snowy environments would be beneficial to a white-colored snake. So why do some white snakes exist?
Just like every other living creature, snakes have genes made of unique DNA sequences that code for everything including their coloration. However, sometimes these sequences contain mutations that can affect how they look.
Albinism and leucism are two mutations that affect a snake’s coloration. Albinism is a result of the absence of a color pigment known as melanin. This means that areas of the skin that would normally have color appear white instead. Albinism also affects the eyes, making them red or pink instead of a typical dark color such as black.
On the other hand, leucism causes a partial or whole absence of melanin and carotenoids (another color pigment that gives snake’s a red-orange coloration) in the skin. However, leucism does not affect the eyes, so these are typically a normal color.
You would think that albino snakes are the ones that are pure white, but in fact, most pure white snakes are leucistic. Since albinism does not affect carotenoids, a lot of albino snakes will be white with yellow to orange accents.
Even though nature is responsible for the genetic mutations that make white snakes, pet breeders have taken the liberty of perpetuating white snake morphs by purposefully mating albino and leucistic snakes – a phenomenon that is highly unlikely to occur in nature.
Thanks to the combination of nature and snake enthusiasts, white snakes are available to own as pets!
What White Snakes Make Great Pets?
Let’s take a look at one of the most popular white snake pets!
1. Super Phantom Reticulated Python
Starting off our list with a bang is one of the biggest white snakes that you can get: the super phantom reticulated python. Topping out at 20 feet, the super phantom morph is a pure white beauty!
There are other phantom python morphs that are pale pink in color with white patches, but the super phantom is all white with no coloration.
2. Palmetto Corn Snake
Palmetto corn snakes are some of the prettiest white snakes available. They are leucistic and display a pure white body with sprinkled patches of red that make them look like they have red pepper flakes all over the body.
Corn snakes tend to stay small and are among the easiest snakes to care for, so adding one of these to your collection is a no brainer!
3. Coral Snow Corn Snake
Coral snow corn snakes are a leucistic morph of a corn snake, but those carotenoids tend to show through. Instead of being pure white, a coral snow corn snake has a white to pale pink body with bands of pale pink and purple.
These may not be the absolute white of some of their other leucistic counterparts, but they are still a rare coloration you won’t often see in the wild.
4. Blizzard Corn Snake
Just like the blinding white of a driving snowstorm, blizzard corn snakes are aptly named for their brilliant white skin that is completely absent of any pale pink or peach colored undertones.
Blizzard corn snakes may be a bit trickier to obtain due to their complete lack of pigmentation. Given this, they also may be more expensive than other white corn snake color morphs.
5. Leucistic Rainbow Boa
Rainbow boas are aptly named for their brilliant colors, so it’s almost ironic to see one that is absolutely white.
Leucistic rainbow boas have all the characteristics of a normal boa without the color they are known for, making them a rare treat for snake enthusiasts.
6. Snow Western Hognose
The snow western hognose looks like someone took a regular western hognose snake and whitewashed it. This variant has a white body with extremely pale pink splotches that can be hard to see in some of the purer breeds.
Since this mutation is a result of albinism, snow western hognose snakes also typically have red eyes.
7. Albino Corn Snake
Albino corn snakes look very similar to coral snow corn snakes with pale bodies that may have some tones of peach or pale pink. However, the most notable difference are the red eyes of albino corn snakes since their mutation is a result of albinism while the coral snow corn snake’s is leucism.
8. Albino California Kingsnake
Albino California kingsnakes can vary in coloration from pure white to pale yellow, orange, or pink bands. The more generations of albino breeding the kingsnake has, the whiter it will be.
Regardless of its coloration (or lack thereof), albino California kingsnakes all distinctively have the trademarked red eyes of an albino variant.
9. Super Arctic Western Hognose
Unlike the pale pastel white of the snow western hognose, super Arctic western hognose snakes are a rich creamy white color. They also display brown patches with black outlines along their bodies making them look like one of the most exotic reptiles you’ve ever seen.
10. Leucistic Texas Rat Snake
Like the blizzard corn snake, leucistic Texas rat snakes typically come in a completely brilliant white color morph. Their lack of pigmentation is so unique that they almost have a blue sheen to them like newly fallen snow.
Since they are leucistic and not albino, these Texas rat snake morphs also have the distinct appearance of unique eye colorations such as bright blue making them highly prized as pets.
11. Albino Hognose
Albino hognose snakes typically don’t display the same mottled appearance as their normal counterparts. Instead, they are a solid white color that may or may not be tinged with pale orange or pink.
They also have the red eyes of an albino which makes them easy to spot even if they aren’t purely white.
12. Pied Ball Python
One of the most prized and variable white snakes available is the pied ball python. These snakes have the typical brown and black patterns of a ball python with stark interrupting patches of pure white. The size and frequency of these white sections vary with each individual, but their unique appearance makes them some of the most expensive white snakes on the market.
13. Blue-Eyed Leucistic Ball Python
Also known as the blue-eyed Lucy, blue-eyed leucistic ball pythons are a favorite among snake enthusiasts. Ball pythons are already a popular choice for a pet, but throw in one that is the pure white of Christmas snow and has eyes bluer than Paul Newman’s and you’ve got snake owners clamoring for a chance to own one.
14. Leucistic Cobra
Leucistic cobras are not your typical choice for a pet, but experienced snake owners may enjoy the challenge of such a rare reptile. The pure white of the cobra’s body is only interrupted by faint pink coloration on the inside of the hood.
Unlike albino morphs, the leucistic cobra has black eyes which give a stark contrast to its white body and make this snake even more mesmerizing than its typically colored brethren.
15. Ivory Ball Python
Whereas the blue-eyed Lucy ball python is the bright white of snow, the ivory ball python is a creamier shade reminiscent of the prized tusks of elephants.
This off-white version of the ball python tends to be easier to get ahold of than the blue-eyed Lucy but still allows you to have a unique reptile set apart from the crowd.
How Much Do White Snakes Cost?
Most snakes typically cost around $75, but if you are looking to be the proud owner of a white snake, you better be willing to dig a little deeper into your bank account. Depending on the species and color morph, most white snakes cost hundreds to thousands of dollars.
If you are looking for a white snake that is on the lower end of the price range, check out albino gopher snakes, bull snakes, garter snakes, kingsnakes, blizzard corn snakes, and leucistic rat snakes. These can all typically be bought at around $100 to $200.
A little bit more expensive, within the $300 to $600 range, are albino ball pythons and ivory ball pythons.
If you are looking to spend some serious cash on a white snake, definitely look into the blue-eyed leucistic ball pythons, super phantom reticulated pythons, and pied ball pythons. Most of these start out around $500-600 but average around $1000 to $2000. Some extremely rare forms of pied ball python have even sold for $10,000 or more!
What makes a white snake cost so much? Since white snakes are already hard to locate, breeders factor in the difficulty of finding parents to produce the first generation and then the time and effort spent to breed these and any subsequent snakes to get the right coloring.
Typically snakes that are pure white with no alternative undertone coloring or specifically unique pattern pied ball pythons are more expensive than their less white albino and leucistic counterparts.
How Rare Is a White Snake?
If you are looking to own a pet white snake, don’t despair! They aren’t as uncommon as they used to be. White snakes have become very popular. Since there is a demand for this unique coloration, many breeders selectively breed albino and leucistic individuals so that there are more available for sale.
Absolutely white snakes with zero alternative coloration are much rarer than those that might display a little more color which is why they tend to be more expensive.
Can You Find White Snakes in the Wild?
White snakes may not be a once in a lifetime find in pet shops anymore, but they are still a rare find in the wild. Without the help of selective breeding, albinism and leucism is generally not a favored trait to carry on to the next generation.
Albino and leucistic snakes are typically less successful in the wild because they lack the ability to camouflage themselves from their prey and other predators. Additionally, snakes, like most animals, inherently recognize which individuals are most successful and the best choices for a mate.
Captive snakes may not have a choice who they have babies with, but wild snakes know there are other fish in the sea – or snakes in the grass – to choose from and so will typically actively avoid mating with a snake that harbors mutant genes.
Although it’s not impossible, don’t get your heart set on discovering a wild white snake because it is far less likely to catch one in its natural home than in the window of a pet shop.
Although white snakes can be a bit pricey, they make beautiful additions to any snake lover’s reptile collection. From the pure white brilliance of blizzard corn snakes to the stunning blue eyes of a leucistic ball python to the unmatched beauty of a pied ball python, white snakes are the amazing product of selective breeding.
Check out one (or all) of the white snakes on our list to see which one you might be cracking your wallet open for! And if you’re looking for more colorful herps, check out our list of red reptiles or maybe orange herps are more your thing!