Animals showing an unusual darkening in pigmentation due to the overproduction of melanin are termed Melanistic. Amelanism is a deﬁciency of melanin. Melanism does not receive as much attention as albinism as it is not as popular or as common within snake species. This darkening in colour could play a role in an animal’s adaptation to its environment, as this phenomenon occurs more frequently in snakes from cool or temperate climates.
Below are some examples of Increased melanin Boa constrictors from the USA.
Diamond Pythons have evolved to survive in their natural range by expressing a particularly dark phenotype. It is believed that their dark colour is vital for optimal thermoregulation during their extreme winter period.
To date only a handful of carpet pythons have expressed heritable melanism. The only verified specimens originate from the collection of the Snake Ranch in NSW. The “Black princess” was a female Darwin carpet python that was collected from the wild in the Northern Territory by Snakes NT in the mid 2000’s.
John Weigel acquired this animal as part of the Snake Ranch collection and had very little success with reproducing the mutation. This female did have a small clutch of eggs that hatched just prior to an ownership change of the Snake Ranch. The project is currently in the hands of a private reptile keeper in NSW and it is hoped that the mutation can be established in the Australian hobby over the coming years. We wish him the best of luck!