Albinism affects the production of melanin. Axanthism interferes with the production of red and yellow pigments. Chromatophores, pigment producing cells, produce skin and eye color in cold-blooded animals. They are generated in the neural crest during embryonic development.
In an Axanthic ball python, the yellow xanthophores and red erythrophores are greatly diminished or altogether lacking. Since melanin production is not affected, this results in a gray snake with black markings. Axanthism is found in many reptiles and amphibians:
- Axolotls: Axanthic axolotls are light grey with dark spots. The darker axanthics may appear purple, rose or gray.
- Bearded Dragons: Axanthic bearded dragons are cream-colored with dark grey patterns.
- Iguanas: Axanthism transforms Green Iguanas into a stunning shade of sky blue.
- Monitors: Axanthic Water Monitors and Savannah Monitors trade their sandy and rusty coloration for more subdued shades of grey and black.
- Skinks: Axanthic Blue-Tongued Skinks are lighter than normal Blue-Tongued Skinks, with their brown tones replaced by a light gunmetal gray.
- Snakes: Axanthic Boa Constrictors, Carpet Pythons, Corn Snakes and Hognose Snakes are just a few of the axanthic snakes found in the wild in the pet trade.