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.