Ball pythons are a small, thick-bodied snakes native to Africa. They get their name from their tendency to curl into a ball when frightened and are sometimes called royal pythons. They are popular pet snakes for people new to snake keeping and are also bred for their appearance, which can vary depending on the snake's genetics. A normal or wild type ball python has the same appearance as it would in the wild, while a pastel ball python has a genetic mutation that alters its appearance.
A morph is a term given to a snake that carries a genetic mutation that alters its appearance. Some snakes only carry these genetic mutations while some are visually different. For example, an albino snake carries a genetic mutation where it has no black pigment. A het albino snake is a snake that carries the albino gene but is not albino itself. Most morphs revolve around increased, faded or lacking pigments of colours, including black, red and yellow.
Pastels are visibly different from normal ball pythons, which have a black and gold pattern. The pastel ball python is coloured light-brown to gold where the normal python has black, and a more vivid orange-yellow colour where the normal ball python has gold. The pastel ball python also has green eyes, where a normal ball python has brown-black eyes.
A pastel is a co-dominant gene. This means that the pastel ball python is actually the het, which carries the gene for a super pastel. In other words, the pastel ball python is to the het albino ball python as the super pastel is to the albino.
The pastel ball python's unusual genetic make-up allows the pastel to be incorporated into other types of ball pythons. For example, two pastels will create the super pastel, a very vivid and brightly-coloured ball python. There is also the super duper pastel, even more brightly coloured, and the hypo pastel, which is a pale, dull pastel. The pastel can be combined with other morphs to create new ones, such as the sterling pastel and the butter pastel.