Meet the Carpet Python
Of all the python species I work with, carpet pythons (Morelia spilota ssp.) are a personal favorite when it comes to an animal that displays well, is relatively hardy and that you can actually handle. They have the exotic, streamlined Morelia appearance, but they're highly adaptable, come in tons of patterns and colors and come in sizes suited to everyone.
This is an amazing group of pythons all the way around. Contrary to popular belief most carpets generally small to medium sized pythons, not much larger than an adult ball python, if any. That said, there are definitely larger ones for those who want a snake with really impressive size. The average Irian Jaya carpet is the same weight as the average ball python, whereas the largest female Coastals might be closer to the size of a small adult reticulated python. Housing is generally inexpensive, as most carpets don't require a large cage. Smaller adults can even live comfortably in a large rack system, which is what we tend to prefer around here.
Carpet Pythons as Display Animals
Their willingness to rest out in the open and their active, yet docile nature makes the carpet python a great pet and display animal. We've even sold carpet pythons to companies who wanted something cooler and easier than a large fish tank in the lobby.
Carpet Python Morphs
There are a number of recently proven carpet python mutations and several more in the works. Below is a list of some of the morphs currently being developed.
- Axanthic Coastal (Proven)
- Tri-Stripe Coastal (Proven)
- Caramel Coastal (Proven)
- Jaguar Coastal (Proven)
- Tiger Coastal (Proven)
- Hypomelanistic Coastal (Proven)
- Zebra Jungle (Proven)
- Albino Northwestern (Proven)
- Granite Irian Jaya (Proven)
- Dominant Red/Hypo Jungle (Proven)
As has been the case with reticulated, Burmese and ball pythons, there will surely be more carpet python mutations identified as public awareness grows and breeding records are given more attention. I don't foresee there being as many carpet mutations as there are with ball pythons...but at the same time, no python species has the natural variability that carpets do. That said, the possibilities are almost endless when it comes to what can be done with carpet python mutations.
Designer Carpet Pythons
Keeping with the theme above, designer carpets can include any combination of morph and/or locality types. As the name implies, the goal here is to "design" a carpet python with a certain look, regardless of subspecies.
Before you dismiss the idea of designer carpets, I want to mention a similar practice that started back in the 1970's with another species. This practice was done with different localities of the green tree python - Morelia viridis (formerly Chondropython viridis). Trooper Walsh began breeding green tree pythons from different localities, which were sometimes referred to as "TW basement mutts". Because of the strict record keeping done by Mr. Walsh and other breeders, it is now possible to buy a mixed locality green tree python with a documented family tree going back all the way to the founding wild caught specimens. As the result of that selective breeding, some of those designer green tree pythons are unlike anything ever seen in the wild. Genetic blue, high yellow, calico, mite phase, lemon tree...the list of designers goes on and on. It should also be noted that taxonomists have reportedly begun studies in order to eventually break Morelia viridis down into various subspecies.
Most carpet enthusiasts don't realize that this is a common practice with a number of other popular species in the hobby, such as reticulated pythons and leopard geckos. These species are comprised of multiple subspecies (five in the case of leopard geckos!) and captive produced specimens are often a mixture of the different subspecies.
At the same time, I'd like to point out that there is a difference between a designer project and throwing a couple of carpets together. Throwing two different carpet types together doesn't necessarily make a pairing desirable, much less something one could seriously consider a designer project. A legitimate designer project should have a specific outcome in mind in terms of appearance. Unfortunately, crosses between different carpet subspecies are often produced for no good reason, other than the breeder happened to have two a male and female carpet that would copulate. In most of these cases, the adults used are unspectacular animals and the resulting offspring are no better. To ensure the legitimacy of any designer project, I feel that extensive breeding records should always be maintained. I believe that keeping such records not only keeps the animals from being confused as a pure (wild type) carpet, but it also makes owning them all the more interesting.
The Designer Debate
There are a few breeders who are self-proclaimed "purists", who still dislike the idea of designer carpets, and believe these animals are going to ruin the "pure" lines that are out there now. eing a realist, I have to interject that their argument against designer animals is rooted around the assumption the carpet pythons they are working with are pure in the first place and we're actually saving something. It would be noble to snub the Jaguars if there were something real (in this case purity) to be achieved or accomplished. Unfortunately, most of what's out there is not pure and looks nothing like the carpets you see being posted on Australian herp forums. arpet pythons were considered the same species, except for the diamond python. There was Morelia spilota spilota (the diamond) and Morelia spilota mcdowelli (the carpet python - this included coastals, inlands, jungles, bredl's and everything that wasn't a diamond python!
Fortunately, most carpet python enthusiasts have embraced the fact that we not only have genetic mutations ("morphs") to work with, but also several different types of "normals" to breed them into. They support what breeders like myself are doing, and they are seeing what the future holds for carpet python morphs. As time goes on, it is becoming apparent that the market for high end designer carpets is going to be its own kind of market - a market that's almost a hybrid of the selective breeding oriented chondro market and the mutation-oriented ball python market.
Pure or Wild Type Carpet Pythons
The majority of "pure" Carpets in the United States are what would be considered "wild type" Carpets. These animals are, as far as we know, a pure representation of any given subspecies. Although purity cannot be verified with most specimens and is pretty questionable with some, these animals generally fit the mold of a particular subspecies, such as Coastal, Irian Jaya, Jungle, etc.
There are very few known lines of pure Carpet Pythons in the United States, but they do exist. I'm currently working with a group of Irian Jaya Carpets that are known to be pure and I have photos of the original wild collected founders...in fact, I still own one of those founder animals. In the future, I plan to diversify my line by adding new, wild collected or farm bred Irian Jayas to the colony. There are reportedly a number of various pure bloodlines in Europe, including subspecies not currently available in the U.S.