I so appreciate this thread! I don’t think that anyone keeping/breeding reptiles beyond just a few hasn’t felt this exact same way at some point. Thank you Nubs for sharing your story, I’m grateful to everyone here for giving you the support you need to make the best decision for your Leo’s. We need more representation of the darker sides to keeping larger collections. The darker side to breeding. Discussions like this both serve to validate and offer support to keepers/breeders in the hobby that struggle with feelings like this currently, as well as offer new keepers looking to get into breeding/keeping large collections a raw perspective of what’s to inevitably come if and when they take that step themselves.
I only have 9 and one temp rescue awaiting placement atm, and sometimes I feel overwhelmed too. For me, it’s important to recognize these feelings as they come and take a step back to dig at the root of the cause. Most things are temporary stressors overwhelming me. Like how currently, i am finishing up a move to a new city. I have a snake room for the first time ever and it’s amazing! But the task of altering the room to prepare it for use with reptiles, while already having the reptiles in it, and not being able to set up one of their enclosures until all of the adjustments have been completed has left me feeling drained, guilty, (for keeping them in their emergency tubs for so long.) And overwhelmed while simultaneously dealing with every other stressor imaginable related to moving to a new area. I just set up three enclosures last night, i got a beautiful full shed from my juvenile bel bp. I had previously decided to do a collection-wide enclosure upgrade at the same time, including setting up my first ever PVC’s. Which in retrospect might have been biting off a bit more than i can chew. But i know that if i just keep going. Every enclosure i set up will be that much less i have to worry about. And if i keep it up, I’ll wake up one morning and it will all be done and everything will not only be right again, but it will be better than ever!
But then other times it isn’t so temporary… I had two crested geckos at one point that i loved to death and spoiled rotten. For the first handful of years it was awesome! Then after a while i started getting skilled enough in my husbandry to bring home a couple of my dream snakes. I slowly stopped giving them the attention like i was before. It didn’t bother me at first, because I don’t necessarily mind keeping animals I don’t interact with every day. But then their care started becoming something i hated on top of that. I hated the bugs. I had to travel across my city every week to buy new bugs because i couldn’t for the life of me establish a colony of anything. It took so much time and gas in comparison to my snakes, for which food showed up on my doorstep.
After a good couple of months and a few different failed methods to ease certain aspects of their care, i finally made the decision to let them go. The spark never came back for me. They were both happy and personable and sweet as a result of all of my love and care in their earlier years. I knew that they had the personality to be someone’s favorite herp in the future. It was hard, but i found a couple of ladies who checked all of the boxes. And tbh, looking back now, I don’t regret it. I might have done a couple things differently, but getting out of geckos was the right move for me. Having that experience taught me a lot about myself as a keeper. I’m a crazy snake lady. I love snakes. And while i may end up having one small spot in my heart for a single lizard waaay down the road, snakes are the far better choice for me and my lifestyle. I’ll never own a gecko again. And that’s okay.
This stuff is hard… I’m planning for my first breeding season in the next couple years as well. Who knows? It may not end up being for me either. But what’s important is that when you do it, you understand what your getting into, what the risks are, and you take the time to learn and do it responsibly. If you’ve done that, then you’ve done your part. Finding out it’s not right for you afterwards doesn’t make you a bad keeper. It makes you a better future keeper for all of your potential herps to come. Or not to come if you decide keeping is not for you after all.
I don’t mean to hijack your post with my story, i hope that in sharing my story you and anyone else who happens on this post and needs it can feel even more validated that you are not alone. As much as i also hope that in the future we all can feel a little bit more open to sharing our own stories. Because keeping reptiles, keeping LIVING ANIMALS in general, is a lot like being a parent. You are not always going to feel like the best reptile parent. Sometimes you might even feel like the worst. And despite all of the opinionated hot takes of every facebook-group-reptile-keyboard-warrior out there, this IS reptile keeping. If it were sunshine and daisies all the time and no one ever made any mistakes, or struggled at all in any way with their herps, everyone would have a reptile by now and USARK wouldn’t need to exist. But that’s just not realistic. (As nice as it would be for USARK to not have to exist.)
Take it easy reptile mama, you got this.