How to calculate how much you can make/lose on a pairing

So I am currently trying to decide what I want to breed for ball pythons and I decided I want to do pastel enchi het clown x super fly het clown and so using the mm genetics calculations I found that looking at recently sold snakes my clutch would have a value per snake of between $125(pastel 66% het clown) to (not sold for) about $2,750 (superfly enchi clown) meaning that the average value of the babies would be $650 each. to calculate your min/max value you are gonna take your cheapest snake posible and multiply it by the number of eggs and vise Vera for the opposite in this case since there’s no clutch where gonna take googles average of 8eggs so the equation is $125x8=min/$1000 and $2,750x8=max/$22,000 meaning that with the parents being $550($450+$100 shipping est for 2 snakes from different places)you would expect to profit at least $450-husbandry costs and make a max of $21,450-husbandry costs. Now being that there is a 9% chance of the low value and a 3% chance of the high value neither of these numbers are verry accurate but they are important to make sure you won’t lose money and to convince your significant other why you should buy another snake. now if I wanted to (and I probably will at some point) I could calculate how much I should expect to make by simply doing (p) of getting that morph x value do this for every outcome and then add them up and now you have your expected value a example for a simpler pairing is Mojave x lesser
(1/4x400(BEL)=100)+(1/4x100(Mojave)=25)+(1/4x100(lesser)=25)+(1/4x50(normal)=12.5) so our expected is about $162.5 per snake now multiply that by and 8 egg clutch you get a expected clutch value of $1300 so then to figure it out further you could do ev-cost=expected profit I don’t know what my husbandry cost is but for fun let’s just say it’s $200+the one time fee of the enclosure let’s say a ap 10 tub cb70 Rack witch is about $70 per tub we end up with $200+$200(purchase price)+$140(2 tubs)=$540 then to raise the baby’s a bare minimum of $150 for enclosure(ap 9 tub rack $100+$50(tubs) and then it’s $40(25 pinky rats) every 3 feedings(let’s say you do 6 feedings before sale) that’s $80 so the hatchlings cost about $230 with a total cost of $770(cost per pairing) for your first season of breeding then it’s about $430 per pair after that assuming all the same animals as the first. I hope this if actually helpful to someone(besides me) as I spent about hour doing it but I still had fun if it’s no use lol.


Also remember, your costs will be effected if you care for a high $ value baby and then it passes away unexpectedly. People often forget that you usually lose a baby or two, not to mention if you lost some eggs during incubation.


Agreed this system does have its flaws it assumes we are in a perfect world(we are far from it) it doesn’t acount for anything like broken things,vet bills, death,etc

1 Like

I think your system is great for getting a rough estimate for probable profit. I would suggest though that one continues to apply this system as they lose babies/eggs or have bad/good odds on the genetics side and adjust accordingly.


Go in to breeding assuming that every clutch you produce will be nothing but normals (unless you are working with a homozygous).

Odds are just that - odds. Nothing is guaranteed. If you look at every clutch as a potential winning lottery ticket then you start making purchases your bank account cannot afford…

And even if you hit great odds, you are not guaranteed to sell. It is one thing to hit a clutch where three of four hatchlings are combos that have never been produced before (and the fourth is probably one of less than ten that have been produced), it is a whole other thing to find someone willing to pay for one of those animals. A snake on MorphMarket with a $2000 (or $4000 or $6000 or…) price tag sitting in your rack is, ultimately, worth $0


Yeah this system definitely imagines we are in a perfect world and one thing that I particularly like about this is it does give you the min value basically saying the worst you could do(if everything goes perfect during incubation,hatching,raising and shipping) one thing about pairing is that there will be no normals as both parents have pastel and one has the super form of it

What I’ve done calculating profit/loss on a pairing is making a table of each possible snake and the value of it. Then I figure out roughly how many I will get in the clutch (this will likely be a fraction for you). I then figure out a rough estimate of how much I could sell them for and figure out the average value of the clutch. Since I usually pick values a bit on the higher side I’ll multiply the value by 2/3, just so it’s a bit more realistic of what they actually sell for. I’ll figure out husbandry costs and assume I’ll keep the babies for much longer than likely, again, just to be more realistic.
I only do this to make sure pairings won’t be too much of a loss. I don’t determine my pairings on profit, I determine them on what I want to produce.


Something else to consider is that not all animals will produce every season and some may never produce. This is why I prefer something like a 2.6 ratio (2 males, 6 females) for each given project. In the case of a male that doesn’t perform there’s a backup to ensure all is not lost.

I think your analysis is a good start but if you’re trying to weigh it all out there’s many variables to consider. On top of animal, food, caging, and supply costs there’s also electricity, space (a room or building), and personal time invested.

3-5 years after initial investment is probably a good rule of thumb before any potential profit is likely. Even then most successful breeders are reinvesting substantial portions of their earnings back into it.

Ozzy has some great posts with insight into the market, investment, etc:


However, if you’re starting out and new to ball pythons, it’s probably better to just get a single nice pair as hatchlings, raise them up, learn the husbandry and skills needed, breed a single clutch and just see how it goes. Ball pythons is the only hobby where I see people encouraging brand new hobbyists who have no idea what they’re doing to go “all in” and it’s alarming, especially because it involves creating more animals that you are responsible for. The amount of people breeding who haven’t even figured out the basics is is just all around bad, and while we should be encouraging and teaching, spurring people on to breed rampantly and recklessly only going to be the downfall off the hobby/industry.

Think of how bizzare it would be if we handled other hobbies like people treat ball python ownership.
“Oh, you just made your first batch of cookies and enjoyed it?” Have you thought of opening a wedding cake business?"
“Since you’ve been climbing for a few weeks now and just did your first 5.9, have you thought about trying to free solo El Capitan?”
“Congratulations on adopting your first dog, I know you’re still trying to figure out how to leash train her, but maybe you should start breeding, training and selling dogs”.

Start at square one, and master the basics


Agree with all the previous posts on odds, biology over statistics, etc.

Not all your girls will reliably go. I have had a 3 clutch season and only 1 clutch actually made it to sale with no losses. And don’t forget that, for the long term, you’re going to keep the best of the best, so they don’t count, maybe later but not for this.

The average of 8 eggs is for laid not hatched. And that’s over a large sample, a lot depends on you.

If you’re trying to convince the significant other (why do you need to convince them? That click sound under your foot is your first clue :bomb: :boom:), then maybe this is not bad to start off, but if you’re trying to calculate a survivable monetary model, you’re not being pessimistic enough, imho.

Amortize your rack costs over the lifetime of the rack, but you can’t do it by tub unless the whole rack is full, they don’t sell multi tub racks by the tub (except ARS selling by the level, which is excellent👍). Calculate your feed, consumables, and utilities for your adults, then add at least a quarter if not half the value to account for increased feed costs, missed breedings, etc. Assume the babies will be fed for 6 months at least. And if you raise your own feeders, you need to do a per feeder/unit calculation so you know what each mouse/rat/ASF costs you to produce, and that’s a whole deal.

Don’t forget your time. Time is the one resource everyone forgets, and shouldn’t. Each of us only has so much, we don’t know how much we ultimately have, and you can not get more! Value it accordingly.

To plan, you need to calculate a worst case value you think is within reason and make sure the pairings you are doing at that value will meet your minimum needs, which is to say keeping your collection fed and healthy. Lottery win hatchings should be looked at as bonus money for the puposes of this calculation. And remember, a cool morph selling for big bucks is going to be the target for next year for alot of breeders, so the prices will drop. You are going to pair with the aim of producing the nicest combos, just for the purposes of cya math, dont count them.

I use 6 survivors, lowest gene count, hets 66% and lower count as normal, and 75% current year sale value for my calculations of worst case.

Then I do a best case so I don’t get depressed😁.

Then choose your pairings with care. No normals, 100% hets if at all possible, 66% het only on double het or more, look for reliable demand, and at 6 months drop your ask or take it up to adult before relisting ( if the baby won’t sell at 6 months with an updated weight and pics with a price drop, you’ll have a better chance with it at or just near breeding size).

Last but not least, never produce what you won’t want to keep. If you like it, chances are someone else will too, if nobody likes it, you’re still responsible for it.

Like kids…that don’t ever move out…:roll_eyes::eyes::shushing_face:


Usually brand new hobbyists start off with lower dollar animals and are unlikely to be investing large amounts or doing thorough financial analysis like the OP. Ball pythons are remarkably easy to care for and breed. I disagree with the idea of starting out with a 1.1 pair and waiting 3 to 4 years for the first breeding season. Starting with 1.1 and a couple months later purchasing more after husbandry is dialed in, maybe, but not 3 to 4 years later. Especially if one is looking to become a profitable breeder with a return on investment. If someone who was obviously inept or incapable of properly caring for animals was looking for advice that would make sense but I don’t think it’s logical to assume for the majority given the basic nature of ball python husbandry. Starting with 1.1 would also be fine for a hobbyist with no intention of making investments or looking for a return on them, which again, given the OP’s financial analysis probably doesn’t make sense in this situation. Starting with such a low number significantly lowers the probability of success. If one or both animals end up being unproductive breeders then what? Assume you did it wrong and the hobby/business is a big waste of time given you waited 4 years?

Think of how bizarre it would be if the advice was “Oh, you want to start a baking business? It’s tough! Buy a few grand worth of ovens and wait 4 years to watch the market and learn the craft, then make your first cookies and see how it goes! If all goes well you can buy more ovens and wait another 3 to 4 to increase your cookie production. After nearly a decade you might get somewhere!”.

1 Like

if its about money, you will always loose.
There are better ways to make money,
better to do it for love and fun .
Then you cant loose. because you will always be happy.

Breeding Snakes/herptiles is not a business, they are a love.
People who do it for love are successful, those that want a quick buck, dont last for long and loose money.
Just my stupid opinion, but I think you have the wrong mindset with the question your asking.


I was mainly doing this for fun as I’m kinda a nerd and everything is about numbers😂but as I have stated previously I KNOW I am gonna loose money but I like starting business and I have no where near the money needed to invest enough to make money

1 Like

:point_up: This this this! I agree 1000 percent with :point_up:


There’s no reason they have to be mutually exclusive and I think the market would disagree. There’s nothing wrong with building a business around what you’re passionate about.

While I agree that no one should get into breeding any animal for the sole purpose of profit there’s nothing wrong with making a profit doing what you love. Doing so requires planning and discipline. There’s a prevailing idea among many ball python keepers, I suspect due to the demographic of most hobby level keepers, that entrepreneurship is bad. I disagree with this.

The fact that there is a strong market giving ball pythons keepers the ability to make a business doing what they love is a wonderful thing that we all benefit from.


I don’t think it’s that at all. Let’s just be honest the odds of someone new breaking in and making a good living doing this is small. So it would be irresponsible to encourage people to invest a significant amount of there money to start. Especially when they tend to not have any experience breeding or keeping at all.


I mean… Mostly I will agree with you. That said… losing seven animals in ten days and kinda puts the happy-meter waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down in the red


I don’t think either of us have any data to back up what the odds of success are building a business in this hobby. I do know that since I started in the early 2000’s this sentiment has been prevalent and since then there have been both numerous success stories and failures. The potential is certainly there.

I would agree that someone with no experience should not invest large sums of money expecting a return. I’d also agree that a genuine passion for the animals should be a prerequisite.

I oppose the notion that contemplating profitability makes a keeper any less moral than a hobbyist who could care less. As long as we are taking good care of our animals that’s all that matters and I think one could make the case that the multitude of hobbyists who invest very little are less likely to take good care of their animals than someone who invests a lot. Those making a living in the hobby certainly contribute significantly more to lobbyist groups, like USARK, that fight for our right to engage in this hobby at all. To some degree we have the business/market side to thank for that.

Given proper care of the animals I think it’s great if someone wants to keep them at either a hobbyist level or a for-profit-business level. I’m not a fan of the tribalism attitude that one has the moral high ground.

1 Like

I think a quick glance at Craigs list will show how many “breeders” fizzle out. I’m not discouraging anyone from breeding. I just like to be honest everyone knows the odds for success is slim. I like to encourage starting slow and truly understanding the odds of failure before risking a significant amount of your money. And also having a good grip on actually keeping animals.

And I totally agree with you here.


For me personally a lot of it’s just curiosity. It doesn’t change anything based on estimated profit/loss. For me it also helps make sure I don’t choose bad pairings that have a low chance of producing what I want. If I was in it for the money I wouldn’t choose this. I’ve put a ton of money (>5k) into this and I’m only planning to make a tiny revenue, but I still love the hobby.