Pros & Cons of Becoming a Breeder

Breeding over the past couple years has dramatically increased. It seems that as soon as someone gets 2 animals, they begin to get the breeding bug. It however, does not always go as planned. I wanted to take a moment and provide a space where honest information could be shared about the positives and negatives of becoming a breeder could be shared.

Everyone knows the upsides of having snakes but here are some of the things I believe most who want to try their hand at breeding either are unaware of, or sometimes just ignore.

-Proper Husbandry when you have multiple animals
-Space required for the animals and support equipment
-Cost involved for peripheral items such as bedding, electricity etc.
-Veterinary care for large number of animals
-Availability, cost and care of feeders
-Animals that dont sell once produced
-Proper knowledge of quarantine procedures
-Knowledge and identifications of disease and illnesses.

There are tons of pro’s and con’s so I hope to hear from other’s thoughts and experiences.

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Add quarantine and testing procedures to that list. Nido is the last thing you want to deal with in a ball python collection and Arena for boas. There are lots of nasty things out there and a lot of people who don’t know they have it or don’t care.

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I have been wanting to do a write up on my business page on Facebook and in our group but this is what I think. It’s a labor of love but cannot stress the Labor part enough.

I have been involved in the Reptile industry at some capacity since 1989 and the number one mistake I see people make is underestimating the amount of work required to do it correctly. We made the move away from Colubrids to Ball Pythons in 2016 for a change. Not at the point to do it full time for another 3-4 seasons but here is what a typical week looks like doing this plus being a Boy Scout Scoutmaster and running a large automotive group:

Monday: Work 8:30-5 then come home, check every rat tub Colony, Growout and Maternity bin and record new litters as well as fill the water reservoirs. Then check every tub in the snake room and clean. This is usually from about 9-11 or 11:30 so I can spend some family time before getting to work

Tuesday: Work 8:30-5 then Scouts from 6:30-8:30 before coming home to eat dinner then the same duties as every night with the rat room and snake room except watering rats which is only twice a week. Usually after midnight getting done.

Wednesday: Work 9:30-7 then come home and do the same things as the other days

Thursday: My weekday off, but not really. This is the longest day of the week with full rat room clean, separate, cull and pull preggos from colony to maternity. It is also feeder pickup day for my feeder customers. In the midst of this we also feed everyone in the snake room since we are already pulling out the rats may as well go ahead and feed. This is easily a 10+ hour day.

Friday: Probably the easiest day of the week checking rat room and quick check of the snake room but very little cleaning to be done the day after feed day

Saturday: Work 9-6 then come home and full rat room and snake room checks. Pair snakes due to be paired.

Sunday: Off work and we are big boaters so we are on the lake all day then come home for full checks in rat room and pull preggos we were unsure about or missed on Thursday to maternity. Full checks in snake room, record locks and feed babies that are on a twice a week schedule for the first 8-10 meals.

Then repeat. This is for a well planned collection of 86 snakes currently which will grow to our eventual goal of 140 females and 20 males in addition to holdbacks.

It’s not glamorous, it’s hard work to do it right and I wouldn’t change a thing (except hire someone for the rat room duties which is coming before long) because I have loved this a long time and understand what goes into it. So many do not understand the work, initial investment and equipment needed as well. They do not understand basic marketing principals, reputation management and capitalization. It’s very easy to invest six figures with no chance for a return for 3 years at least. Being short sighted and not properly capitalized will result in a collection sale as fast as the realization of the work that goes into it.

There are no days off when it comes to animal care. This not only affects you it also affects your family, significant other and social life. Be ready to miss some things to do it right.

Then there are vacations lol, we go to the beach two weeks a year once in the summer and once in the fall. We are lucky to have a local guy we know well that checks on the snakes, feeds and waters the rats and keeps an eye on the incubator for me for a nominal fee.

The only other piece of advice I would give anyone is to think 3-5 years ahead. If you are not planning your pairings 2-3 years in advance then you will likely struggle.

Wow that was longer than I intended and still probably only said half of what I wanted to lol.

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Thanks for posting this @bcsballpythons. The struggle is real.

I’ve held out this long on breeding feeders but am always very tempted to start. Perhaps I’ll keep holding off based on your post… at least until I can convince one of my kids into managing it. :smiling_imp:

I too have a full time+ job, a young family, and ~100 NFS animals (mostly high-metabolism colubrids :poop: :poop: :poop: ). It really is a shit ton of cleaning, and planning, and replying, but in the end I love that I am able to live my childhood dream and do this, even if many nights push me.

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Pros you get to help create amazing animals. It truly is a amazing adventure.

Cons sometimes no social life. The bad times when anything and everything goes south.

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Great post!
I think some other important parts of breeding that people don’t usually think about ahead of time are:
What are you going to do if it doesn’t sell? Goes along with your original post but for people to be prepared to hang on to Hatchlings for a long time as it does happen, especially when you’re new.
How are you going to cull babies? Also something that can happen, is the person breeding going to be able to do it and do it as humane as possible?
How are you going to market the babies you want to sell?

It’s also important to develop basic human interaction skills if you plan on breeding and selling. I see a lot of new sellers who come off as very rude or sounding like the world owes them everything because they’re selling something.

Another big point I realized I left out. Incubating the eggs. I see a lot of people put their first snakes together but it’s not until the last few days until the eggs are due, or when they’re already laid that the individuals freak out about how to build an incubator or where to buy one.

There’s a lot of pros and cons to breeding and being prepared for all of them makes it an enjoyable experience that I wish the mass would prepare themselves for more.

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I like to call that Craigslist syndrome. If you are trying to buy something, you should be thankful they are selling it, and if you are selling something than it must be because you are poor and have no money so I’ll offer you 1/4 of sale price and you will accept.

Another issue is the lack of honesty in the community. People buy or acquire snakes and then turn around to try to sell them and when they don’t, the snakes acquire new genes, become hets or a slew of other sales tactics.

How many times have you seen “plus something something” “new gene” “something extra”…

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It changes the way you view animals. No one told me this. I would still have started breeding. I love it but I wish I would have known this fact before I started.

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How did it change your view? Since I started breeding I have developed a deeper understanding of snakes and lizards, but I wouldn’t say that how I view them has changed.

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I look at animals, specifically snakes more as investments. What I can make with what , hets ECT… When I kept as pets I just bought what caught my eye, what was pretty. Don’t get me wrong, i love my animals. I walk in my snake room and smile. I talk to them, I morn a loss. Even my rats, I walk in " hello ratos" but I bought Dumbo hairless to breed more of them. To pay for my feeders. It’s different. I don’t think I could go back even if I wanted to.

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Got it, when you put it like that I realize that I do the same thing. I still admire them but my first thought is weather or not I can work with them. And I also talk to my reptiles, I don’t breed rats yet but I will always admonish a snake who is acting hungry if they didn’t eat or just say random stuff to them while cleaning.

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Since most snakes are “R selected” species (meaning more offspring are produced, but birth defects occur at a higher rate than in species which produce fewer young aka “selected by K”), you should expect about 1% of offspring to have a lethal mutation. Some will die in the egg, others will hatch without fully formed organs. This is independent of morphs and inbreeding - this is what you expect in a wild, highly-heterozygous population.
So as breeders, it’s important to know how to handle hatchlings that emerge with short life expectancies. The current body of research supports culling reptiles and amphibians by first placing them in a refrigerator (~4C ; 39F) to slow their neurological responses, and then placing them in a freezer (-20C ; -4F). This avoids any pain they would perceive from peripheral tissue freezing before neurological shutdown. The length of time at 4C is completely dependent on the size of the animal.

As breeders, it is our responsibility to ensure the comfort of all of the animals in our care, including the ones who aren’t able to thrive.

lit review: http://bio.biologists.org/content/early/2015/05/18/bio.012179

I don’t agree with this at all. Animals aren’t investments, stocks and realty are. Investments can’t get a cold, that’s a liability. I think this is becoming a popular thought and then people realize it isn’t as easy as some make it seem, then you get your collection dumps on Craigslist. Followed immediately by an excuse about family issues, most likely going broke. You would be shunned if these were dogs and you did it just for money…

Wow. Never said just for money. Pretty stupid way to make money. Anyway I will just leave you on your high horse. I’m busy working with my animals .

You apparently took that the wrong way, and wasn’t talking just to you which is why I said it’s becoming a popular sentiment across the hobby. No high horse, just a difference of opinion.

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Listen. I love my animals. But before breeding I would just buy whatever I liked. Whatever sex, whatever species. I liked it and I would get it. Now I have projects, goals, I buy hets and double hets. It’s different, just is. I look back sometimes …miss those days. But I love what I do now. Sorry if I came across harsh. It’s been a very long day.

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That statement is 100% dead on to what makes sense. I have projects with specific desired results, and that’s what I pair for. I don’t pair for what sells the best or what people like, I breed what I like and sell the ones that aren’t holdbacks or the project has surpassed.

Potentially an unpopular opinion here but I think a serious Con of people becoming a breeder is that many individuals that do it are breeding something that literally anyone can breed (e.g., balls, corns, carpets, hogs, etc.) but they think that their ability to breed those species somehow makes them special to the point that they disregard/ignore/trash people with significantly greater experience.

Another Con I see all too frequently is someone decide to become a breeder because they are convinced that their Craigslist/Petco pick-up is something exotic and so they are going to prove it as the next big new morph.

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Yeah it’s been said any crackhead can breed balls, and there are plenty of them that do. People have 0 respect for those that started this hobby and guarantee it isn’t the IG or YT breeders that did it.

Petco Exotics = BreederLyf

The bickering has already be gone smh