Breeding snakes full time

How many people here breed snakes / reptiles full time as their only income? Just curious.

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I know that @osbornereptiles does and I think @azoreptiles also does. Stewart Reptiles did before she retired. Some of the industry leaders have accounts here though they haven’t posted in a while. Most of the accounts here are people who do this full time. I think there are multiple other people working toward that as a goal including me in the future. I think the key to making a career out of it is breeding unique things that there isn’t an oversaturated market of, whether it’s unique morphs/combos or totally unique species.

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Some threads that are closely related:
Pros & Cons of Becoming a Breeder

Trouble selling

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Haven’t been here in a long time, but I saw I was tagged in this and was actually talking about this subject recently so I thought I chime in. Yes reptiles is all I do to make a living. I do not have another job.

Can you start breeding animals and a make a living yes 100%. We live in an area with low tax’s and a lower cost of living which helps a lot.

Can you do it on just ball pythons it would be a steep hill to climb but it can be done. 2 of my friends did it in the 4 years so i have first hand knowledge of what went into it.

We work with very few ball pythons they make up about 12% of our revenue. 35 females and 14 males at the moment.

We work a lot with leopard geckos, bearded dragons, various other geckos(too many list right now) , sand boas, locality boas, corns, kings, a few small tortoise species and various frogs.
We also do 80% of our animal business wholesale. We aren’t keeping animals for any long period of time so our costs of feeding are way lower then your average keeper.

The other part of out business is the non animal side. We sell dry goods and feeders as well.

As a business to start from scratch it’s not easy. We went 3 years with 0 profit. We lost money the first 2 years and broke even year 3. I was working another full time job so we had funds to live off of. In year 5 I quit my job and did this full time. We are in year 14 now.

Well that’s the quick points for now. When i have a bit more time I’ll respond more in depth.

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I’d like to chime in and ask how people should go about registering as a business. Any one who wants to be a legitimate, lawful breeder should imo.

I personally want to, but am finding it a headache as there seems to be quite a bit that goes into it.
I’ve tried contacting local business attorneys/lawyer offices and got no response back.
I even tried asking a local breeder about it and she mentioned she went through her accountant but when I asked for contact info… she left me on read 🥲

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depending on where you’re from, my city has a small business assistance center (san francisco). You might look up something similar. When I created my LLC (for something not snake related, but the process is likely the same), they match you up with a staff member who helps explain each bit of paperwork you need to file and in what order. It didn’t cost us anything, and was part of a city gov’t program geared towards new small business owners. Separately, you can/should get a tax professional for once the LLC, corp, etc is created.

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Thanks for the tip! It looks like there might be something like that local to me, I’ll have to check them out for sure.

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I am looking into the business of snake breeding and producing supplies as well, though I will be wanting to set up a shop. My idea is a restaurant themed off of reptiles and amphibians kinda next to the pet shop I wanna own in the future, and maybe I would have a display room in the restaurant to house some of my reptiles. It is just a blurred idea, though because I dont know if that would conform to food laws and such. But I am happy to have found this post :smiley:

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You can make a living in ball pythons, just not easy. If you had 100k to start with it would be a whole lot easier. In fact I’d guess you’d have little trouble at all. Doesn’t take some huge investment.

My friend started with 2k four years ago and lost his job March of last year. He was able to make a living on just ball pythons. He traded, he breed his own, and he bought wholesale. Didn’t make a 6 figure income but he made enough to afford rent, food, car note, ect.
It’s all in making the right choices. Chasing the latest morph is not the way to go. Be the guy that sells a range of animals. The $35-50 the $75-$125 and $150-$300 and you’ll be selling way more snakes and thus making more $$$. They $500 + market is limited, the 1k + market even more so. The only way your going to sell super high stuff is getting a name in the industry. That takes time.

All the BP’s I produce sell for $40-$100 wholesale. Never have an issue selling them. Once they eat a few times off they go. Sometimes I buy other people stuff they can’t sell or just don’t want to put in the effort to sell. I just don’t bother chasing morphs anymore. Been there did that. Never again.

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Yes feeders and dry goods are great $$ makers. Both just require a lot of space. The other part is the investment in inventory. There’s no free lunch.

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I think it’s important to note that any small business is a major challenge to get off the ground floor. The ones that are successful, are the folks who work very hard and continue to get back on the horse every time they get kicked off. Even then, some fail. But with a good plan and the love for doing what you are doing, you can make it happen.
If you stick to the finer points of quality in/quality out, and understand customer service, you should have a very solid foundation to start with.

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@viperine Very well said!

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If I can make a living exclusively doing a reptile business anyone can. It takes tons of work to get off the ground much like any business.

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In my opinion, anyone that has a strong personality and a go get em attitudes can definitely do well in this business. I will say, you must invest wisely and with intent. If you plan to impulse buy, you’ll find yourself in trouble. The inability to focus is probably the #1 downfall for most breeders starting out. If you can maintain focus on specific projects and follow through on long-term projects, you will find your place. If you’re chasing the new trend…you’re already late to the party and there is nother wrong with that. Just plan your own party and see who shows up!

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Any industry has it’s nuances and angles. It’s the people that can figure those out AND do it well with the resources they have that succeed.

I have made a career of 25 years by running restaurants. No one in their right mind should do that according to the books, success rates, profit margins, lifestyle, etc… My passion, expertise, and ability to evolve and change are what have kept me successful. What works for me, may not ever work for someone else, and vice versa. There are lots of successful restaurant models, that I think are plain nuts. BUT the people living in that world, with those pressures, those expectations, their butts on the line, are the ones who figured it out. Just like I have had do in my own career world.

Without an individual case study like an investor would (should) conduct, one cannot know from a generic post if anyone will ‘make it’ or not. You cannot really even know what their definition of ‘making it’ is. Business is about evolution, growth, and riding the changes. Don’t tell someone what they cannot achieve by throwing generic and condescending cliches at them.

There’s no easy answers for success, but all the easy answers for failure shouldn’t be the quick reply either. Of course it’s hard. Everyone would do it and be rich if it wasn’t hard. That’s EVERY industry.

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Perfectly stated. I’ve been saying that about this hobby for the last 25 years.

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I think comparing it to restaurant is perfect, because like ball pythons, there’s a ton of turnover, always new people getting into it and dropping out after a few years, but there are some who will succeed and become the big, recognizable household names. I think it’s fair to say that statistically, most ball python breeders, like most restaurants, won’t make it. But that doesn’t mean people can’t or shouldn’t try if that’s their dream

There’s way more that goes into a successful business than just breeding snakes, as has been discussed in other threads, marketing yourself and building a good reputation are huge. A chef can make the most glorious mouthwatering food, but if no one has heard of the restaurant and they have no way to draw in new clientele, they will fail. You can breed world’s most beautiful pythons, but if I go on MM, I wouldn’t send $1000 to a breeder with no reviews or social media presence. It’s too much of a risk

And, like restaurants, you can find great deals at their “going out of business” sales :joy:

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Agreed. Both are difficult and statistically non-starters. Then there’s the folks who figure it out.

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From a financial standpoint is it easier to make a living breeding thousands of ball pythons or a dozen of a hundred unique species.

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It’s way easier in my opinion to bred multiple species. My reason is this. The BP market is fickle to say the least, but if you breed lots of different things your never at the mercy of 1 species. Some years one thing is hot and if you have them you can ride the wave. We’ve gotten lucky over the years. As an example we bought into corns and kings years ago and they have gone up from $30-50 to over $100 . Since we always had them people came to us when they were looking for them.

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