Are there too many BPs out there?

I just checked the main MM page, and wow, there’s a lot of ball pythons for sale. I thought there might be a few thousand, maybe as many as 10,000. Nope.

There’s 39,000.

This got me thinking, are breeders producing too many ball pythons? I can’t imagine that all of those nearly 40,000 ball pythons will find a home. That just can’t be the case. There are babies from 2020 still for sale on their original listings, so we’re already seeing this start to happen.

I also suppose that many of these snakes will be used for breeding, meaning that next year, there will be even more of them. Next year, will there be 50,000 BPs for sale? The year after, 70,000? This just can’t be sustainable. There’s no way there’s such a large market for just one species of snake. Also, with almost every clutch, normals are usually produced. Are people really buying that many normals? Sadly, I suspect that many excess normals are euthanized by big breeders, simply because they can’t be sold.

All economic bubbles will eventually pop. I’m worried that we’ll see this happen here, and 10s of thousands of snakes will be left unwanted.

Keep in mind, I’m not criticizing breeders. I’m just wondering if maybe it’s time to start thinking about the future of all these snakes we’re producing, and maybe scaling back production a little.

What’re everyone’s thoughts?


I absolutely think people need to be scaling back and being mindful of what they breed. The big breeders I see on Instagram and other accounts are alwasy telling people not to mind the market, and to keep at it, follow your dreams, etc and so forth, but of course they’re going to encourage people to keep breeding and buying, because they want to keep selling you animals.

Ball python breeding is very much like a pyramid scheme, with the big breeders at the top (Justin Kobylka, Markus Jayne, Ozzyboids, BHB) selling high demand animals that most people will want, other breeders and hobbyists alike. Most of their animals will likely sell based on name and reputation alone, but they also export to other countries that are less saturated, and wholesale out low end animals. They’ll continue pushing and encouraging people to breed, because that’s how they make a lot of sales - by selling to other breeders.

Breeders in the middle are buying from from the breeders at the top, some trying to climb the ladder but still also managing to sell to those under them - hobbyists and smaller breeders. Many of the people I know in this category don’t make breeding ball pythons their full time job, and therefore can afford to hang on to animals that don’t sell a while, because selling ball pythons isn’t their whole livelihood.

Breeders in the bottom level are where you run into over saturation problems, much like with essential oils and lulularoe leggings, they’ve run out of people to sell to. They’ll sell some to other breeders at the same level or to pet owners, but higher end breeders aren’t going to want their animals because they aren’t high enough quality or have desirable morphs. You’re not going to see Justin Kobylka buying a browned out pastel off of craigslist for his projects. Because they are lower value animals, most will get sold as pets. There’s also a ton of turnover at this level, person A will fail to make money at breeding, have bills to pay, and list all their animals on craigslist, and person B will go “wow, what a great deal, I’ve always wanted to breed ball pythons”, buy them, and then the cyle will repeat ad nauseam.

As P.T. Barnum (supposedly) said, “There’s a sucker born every minute”. So essentially they just keep getting passed around, some will die due to poor care (probably a fair amount), some will be surrendered to rescues, some will end up in homes as pets, etc. Right now you can literally buy a ball python for less than the price of a large cheese pizza, which is alarming from both a market perspective and an animal welfare perspective


@chesterhf agreed! It really can be a pyramid scheme. I was planning on breeding my two BPs, but I realized that I won’t be able to find good homes for half a dozen single gene russos.

I’m starting to look at going into STPs and blood pythons instead, the market’s much less oversaturated for them.


I never realised ball python breeding was this bad. Here in the UK there are alot less people breeding them and there are about 4500 for sale currently.


@shadowspiderjack Doesn’t the UK have better animal welfare laws than we do in America? Don’t you need a certification to sell snakes commercially? That’s what I’ve always heard, maybe I’m wrong though. It would certainly discourage people getting into breeding without seriously considering what they’re doing.


There are definitely a lot of consideration in terms of getting into this market. I’ve personally noticed that a lot of people get in it for a quick buck, realize it’s not a get-rich-fast scheme, and sell out – or it’s people who get really into it for the first season or two and then get burnt out or bored. There are also folks who just breed because they saw a cute snake video, but have no clue what they’re doing, don’t know how to ID, are not prepared to house animals long term, etc. And then of course there are the people who do it long term and for love of the animals.

It’s definitely a saturated market. For me, I decided to breed a) because I love the animals and their genetics; b) for education and outreach purposes; and c) because I wanted to be the example of an ethical breeder that I had trouble finding. In doing that, I tried to prepare as best as I could to mitigate my contribution to oversaturation. I wanted to get into the banana gene, so I bought two banana females so that I wouldn’t contribute to the high population of male maker males. I don’t wholesale anything, ever, because when I wholesale I lose any control over where my animal goes. I vet potential homes - I do not just sell to anyone who sends me money and have turned people down on many occasions. I don’t ever plan to have more than 30-40 breeding animals, and I currently am expecting 3-5 clutches a year. And I keep anything that doesn’t sell long term until it does, even up to a year or more. These are all things I’ve chosen to do to mitigate the harm of getting into such a saturated market. I also try to be open and transparent and free for folks to ask questions about care, help people find homes for unwanted animals, etc.

I think there are a lot of things we as the hobby could do to try and scale back. Quality over quantity (which people often say and I often find hilarious, because it’s often guys producing 50 clutches a year with low quality gene expression animals). Be mindful of pairings, both market wise and interest wise. Vet buyers as much as possible. Make a conscious choice not to produce low quality wholesale animals. Expand effort and $$ into improving rack space and enclosures rather than adding more animals. And unfortunately there are a TON of people starting to breed with no idea how to ID the genes they’re working with, and that’s the top problem in my opinion,outside of animal welfare concerns. It’s why you’ll often see me responding to people asking “what should I breed my BP to?” with a kinder version of “you shouldn’t.” If you don’t know what specific genes you want to work with and how to ID them accurately, you shouldn’t be breeding - which can sound harsh, but it’s something that should be said more often - and even then, you should still consider if you should breed.

I’m a mid-range small breeder. I do it as a hobby with no intention of turning it into a business, so I have planned for keeping animals long term if they can’t sell. I prefer to buy from other mid range breeders rather than big ones for many reasons (quality control, disease risk, etc.). I hope in time one of the biggest changes we can make is viewing these animals as beings rather than objects for investment, as I think that is one of the things that most contributes to oversaturation.


Some breeders here do have a certificate to breed but i believe thats only for the top breeders and not the hobbyist breeders.


:clap::clap::clap::clap: to you @inspirationexotics and very well said. Breeding is much more than putting 2 animals together, whether the animals are furred, feathered, scaled or even finned. The product of the union should come with an irreversible guarantee to be treated ethically, morally, respectfully, responsibly and humanely. God put animals on this earth for man’s use/pleasure but that fact doe not negate the above.

The mass production of any animal without the guarantee of quality of life for that animal as a pet or a as breeder animal in the pet trade is a the description of the over saturation of the ball python market today. Unfortunately in many cases the unwanted animals pay the price………


This thread is interesting to me. As I currently have 4 rescue ball pythons that Ive been setting on for over a year…that I just cant find good homes for. They are a pastel…a normal…a mojave…& a spider ( with wobble) obviously these are just going to be pets. They are all nice snakes that deserve a good home. Because I haven’t been able to find them homes I had to stop my intake of rescues @ the moment.


People really need to consider…that with proper care these are 30 plus year lived animals. Even as a pet…to guarantee you can take care of something for 30years is alot of responsibility. Guess there is Ball python believed to be almost 60 @ STL zoo.


I understand that life happens… always…lol. but really people should be getting…any pet. (Or breeder) With the intention of providing for it its entire life. Its not fair to shuffle them home to home every 2 yrs.


I also think it’s worth talking about how ball pythons are almost totally eclipsing every other snake in the hobby. It’s all ball pythons, all the time. There are so many other snakes out there, but most of them, even the common species, have been neglected in favor of BPs.

Three big examples of this: kingsnakes, sand boas, and corn snakes. I know what you’re thinking; “But those are super common, they’re everywhere”. Are they really? On MM, there are only 1,900 corn snakes, 600 sand boas, and 900 kingsnakes. That isn’t very much compared to the sheer volume of BPs being sold. It used to be that these snakes were listed as equals with ball pythons, together they were the “big 4”. Now, there’s 11 ball pythons for sale for every individual of those three species combined.

That’s not even mentioning the rarer snake species that make excellent captives. Angolan pythons, STPs, garter snakes, Pituophis, and Antaresia, to name a few. These are all great pets, and yet there’s only a handful of them being bred compared to BPs.

Ball pythons are also dominating snake related media and how the public interacts with snakes. With the exception of a few colubrid specialists like Snake Discovery, most snake content creators focus on ball pythons. I’d like to see more attention being paid to other species. Channels like Reach Out Reptiles are growing, sure, but they’re still surpassed by many BP breeders. Seeing all these ball pythons at pet stores, programs, and even zoos must be affecting how the public interacts with snakes. Yes, ball pythons are a good ambassador species, but people aren’t seeing the big picture.

Don’t get me wrong, I like ball pythons. I don’t have a vendetta against them or anything, I have two myself. There’s absolutely a reason why they’re so popular. What I’m saying is that hundreds of beautiful species of snakes are being totally eclipsed by a massive tide of little colorful “living skittles”, and it isn’t right.

We really ought to be keeping lots of different species. At this point, there are few snakes that can’t be bred in captivity. Even mysteries like ground boas and dragon snakes are starting to be understood. Snakes are becoming even more popular, and the societal stigma against them is starting to lift. Are we really going to fill that new space in the hobby with one species of snake?

If you’re a ball python breeder reading this, I strongly encourage you to fill up that new rack with something new. Maybe tricolor hognoses or SD retics, the way is open to a new era in the hobby. We really shouldn’t be focusing so much on ball pythons as a community, there are hundreds of different species, many of them even better captives than BPs. As a hobby, we have many diverse options to choose from, and we should take full advantage of that.


I’ve been looking at markets a lot. I’m looking into building a breeding business. Balls were the fist snake I looked at. I saw the over saturation right away. I eliminated them as quickly as I looked at them. I think there is money to be made if you buy expensive enough breeding animals. The problem is at this level there are only a few buyers. You also risk buying into a morph before the price crashes. The really issues is once you get past about $1,000 the breeders are really selling to each other. In a way the value is pretty artificial and the bottom could fall out at any time.

In addition to over saturation and risk, I don’t think it’s fair to the animals. There are just way too many on the many on the market.

I’m pretty sure I’ve landed on Hognose Snakes as a staple. With my other projects being smaller projects working with animals that are under represented in the US. I’m starting with Australian Water Dragons for insatanct


I’ve expressed my opinion on this before and it did not go well, but I do believe there are too many BPs being produced. To be fair, a lot of this issue lies in the fact that among reptile hobbyists, there is a lack of personal responsibility and limits, it seems, overall. Just look at how many breeders keep hundreds of animals, producing hundreds of offspring every year. If this were a more acceptable pet species like cats or dogs, you can bet there’d be far more regulation on numbers, and some people would be called out for what they are: mills. Responsible, ethical breeding means only producing what you can find homes for in a reasonable amount of time. Reptiles are still living, breathing creatures with needs in regards to space, enrichment, etc.

BPs have this reputation that you can just chuck them in a rack and start your breeding empire. Tons of morphs, easily available, super cheap to start up for anyone who just wants to breed snakes but doesn’t know or care to research or do things properly. From there it snowballs, as more and more new breeders cycle through and either burn out and turn their collection over to a new sucker, or just keep producing lower value animals en masse to try to make back some of what they invested. The market has gotten so saturated that I’d say my local expos are, bare minimum, 60-70% BPs. I don’t even like going anymore because I can almost guarantee there will be nothing I’m interested in.

2367 MorphMarket stores of the 4989 total in the United States sell Ball Pythons. That’s close to half. Open it up worldwide and the gap closes even further to 49.8%. This is neither ethical nor sustainable, especially as the news stories keep piling up of Ball Pythons being abandoned and/or dumped everywhere. You’ve also still got plenty of breeders importing to try and get that newest gene in their collection, which is ridiculous when we’ve already got so many in the hobby there aren’t enough buyers for them all.


Ethical is the key. Im a small time Keyan sand boa breeder & I do rescues. Im so full of rescues I cant take more. & I still have a couple sand boas from last season. So I didnt breed this year @ all.


Small scale ball python breeder here (have around 6 breeder size females currently, last season I bred was 2 years ago).

I don’t disagree that there’s an over saturation of ball pythons in the market. No offense to others, some of the other “popular” snakes don’t do it for me. Im not a fan of corns or kings. I don’t mind them, but they just aren’t something that makes me want to keep them.

I think one of the big appeals for people getting into the hobby and then getting into breeding is the wide variety of what you can make with ball pythons, plus their ease of care. I think the morphs is part of the reason why they’re been so big on the social media platforms as well, as humans are visual and we see something pretty, we look.

I’ve thought about dabbling into other animals, I’ve got a Garg gecko im currently shopping for a girlfriend for, and I’ve even considered working with hognoses. But for me it’s just the possibilities are so abundant with balls, and it keeps pulling me back in. Working with some of the less worked with genes, straying from the path that everyone goes down because “xyz” YouTuber made them and they were cool.

Sustainable, no, but I question why it isn’t ethical. Unless you mean because of the vast majority of them producing 100’s, then I agree. I think some of the larger breeders pumping out hundreds, or thousands, of ball pythons hatchlings a year definitely isn’t a good thing. It would be better if everyone could have a chance/fair shake at the market.

I think the way people go about it is problematic too. I’ve seen others mention it and I think I’ve seen it in the thread above, where some big breeders on YouTube say “ignore the market! But what you want!” When we all know they aren’t ignoring the market, you don’t make money by blindly spending it and hoping it works out. You know those big breeders are just trying to sucker people into buying the next “big morph” which then turns out to be produced en mass. Clowns a big example of this. Prices were higher than pieds a few years ago, now you can get a single gene clown for next to nothing.

Also people for some reason have this mentality that to keep ball pythons (or a lot of reptiles oddly) they need to breed, and they need to do it on a large scale. I think I’ve got 25 animals in my collection currently, and that’s more than enough for me now, and is already expensive to feed. You get someone that’s new to the hobby, that food bill and equipment bill is going to set them back and then they’re trying to recoup that cost, which doesn’t go well.

Again, to reiterate. I agree that there are too many balls in the hobby. Everyone wants to make it big and have the next new morph to sell for $20k a piece. But I also think they’re one of the easiest species to keep, if a little research has been done and they’re kept properly. Mine don’t go off food, I don’t over feed them (big reason they don’t go off food here) and I enjoy keeping them.


I definitely meant the breeders who were overproducing or producing large amounts of low quality animals. There are plenty of breeders of all sizes doing their best to do things ethically, and have the customer base there to buy what they have. I will say, however, that anyone of any size adding to the surplus (producing animals that are not easily sold or that they don’t intend to keep) is toeing the line. Part of breeding is knowing the market and saturation, and adjusting production to fit. I think that one is an especially hard pill for a lot of folks to swallow, because absolutely no one wants to be told or admit they may be contributing to something that is problematic, even more so when it’s something they’re doing out of love and admiration for the species.


I agree 100%, just wanted to make sure I understood where you were coming from.

Agreed here also. No one wants someone’s single gene pastels or normals. Especially low quality ones at that. Unless you have a guaranteed pet market for these; then I think it’s equally part of the problem even if it’s on a small scale.

Another thing too that I wish people in the hobby didn’t do: just because your females CAN be bred every year, you absolutely do not need to. Give her a break. Scale down a little. Be smart and think about the health of your animals and not just what combos you can make.


If I ever get into breeding snakes, I can’t imagine producing more than a dozen or so clutches in a year. And yet you know that some people are producing hundreds. BHB Reptiles, Wilbanks, and Dynasty, for example. Not attacking any of these breeders, but you know that they aren’t selling all of those snakes.

I wonder if bigger breeders are selling their excess normal/single gene babies to big chain stores like Petco. I’ve always wondered where they get all those single-gene pastels and pinstripes.

I’m also going to say that the practice of breeding a snake just to “prove it out” is very problematic. You don’t even know if you want the babies you might get, so why produce them in the first place? It isn’t even conclusive, as there’s always a chance you don’t hit the odds. At least in a few years we’ll be able to use a DNA test for determining all morphs. What we have now is still limited.


The answer to this is definitively yes, there are a few specifically known to do so, and it’s not even just single genes. They use chain stores to offload anything they can’t quickly sell themselves, that way they’re not pouring more money and resources only to sell at a loss. Chain stores count on the sale of habitats, food, and the customer coming back for more items, therefore they can sell these animals at a loss and still come out on top.