Returning to the hobby

Hi all,
I’m in the beginning stages of planning a project to return to the hobby and try my hand at breeding.
I’ve been quite taken by the Pompeii project. I’d like to maximize my odds as much as possible while keeping the initial buy in as low as possible.
So my plan as it stands at the moment is to acquire 2 females hatchlings 1 YB clown and 1 red stripe clown initially. And while I’m growing them up save up the cash to purchase 2 sub adult or adult males 1 spot nose clown and 1 black pastel clown.
I think this is definitely a long route but if I’m right in my thinking it should put me in the position to maybe start at least having the chance at producing a Pompeii within 5 years or so assuming my odds on the first 2 clutches work out.
If any experienced guys see holes in my plan or have an idea of a better way to go about it I would value your advice.

For now, thank you to anyone who takes the time to read this.


A few things I would consider/keep in mind.

Just because some ball pythons do breed at 2, 2 1/2 years of age doesn’t necessarily mean they all will. There’s plenty of females that might not be ready to lay until 3, 4 or 5 year of age. So your estimate of 5 years, while not impossible, is very optimistic.

The ball python market is fairly saturated (there’s almost 4,000 visual clown and clown combo ball pythons for sale in the US/Canada region alone on morphmarket) and with the economy the way that it is right now, less people are buying. As a new breeder, you’re going to be competing to make sales against established breeders who know what they’re doing, and have a solid reputation in the hobby. How are you going to market your snakes, and what is going to set you apart and make people want to buy from you? Also, are you prepared to house, feed and raise any ball pythons that don’t sell? It might take a while


Good Morning Rusty,

Welcome back to the hobby and to the MC Forums! The Pompeii project is still one of the greatest projects that someone can achieve, and I think it’s cool that you’d want to go after it. I like the idea that you want to get hatchlings to grow up, but with the market the way it is right now - you can easily go buy a three gene clown for your project for fairly inexpensive. Now I’m not sure about your finances, but fairely inexpensive to me is under a 1500 range. Most breeders I’ve come across will also do payment plans for you if needed.

As @chesterhf said above you’ll be competing with established breeders already. You’ll want to market yourself in a way that’s different from everyone else who is also in this project. If you plan to do this just as a hobby then, in my opinion, you don’t need to have a dedicated IG account (you still need one though) and you don’t have to push your snakes to sell. Now, if you want to do this and make money as a business then you’ll have to upgrade your game - active social media, eye catching logo, etc etc.


Thanks for the responses guys!
As of right now my only real intention is to do this as a hobby that will hopefully be at least self sustaining. I definitely realize how stiff the competition for sales will be especially with Pompeii project snakes since I will be competing against the biggest names out there at the moment. I have an idea of a direction I’d like to take it that I haven’t seen anyone working on yet so if I do end up being the first to hit on my idea ( I doubt that I will be, but it would be nice) I might think about really marketing myself as a business. But like I said at the beginning my main plan for now is to keep this as a hobby to try and hit on a snake that I couldn’t even begin to think about purchasing right now.


You say you are looking to “return to the hobby”. Can you tell us a little about your level of experience? How long has it been since you were in the game?


It’s been 15 years ish since I’ve actively kept any animals. I used to primarily keep BCIs and panther chameleons ( but I had 3 regular ball pythons ant the time) and was in fact very close to making my first attempt at breeding a very large female BCI I had.
I unfortunately lost all of my animals in one fell swoop when I was out of town one winter, it was the coldest it had been in Kentucky in years and my power went for what I found out was 4 days while I was gone. And the temp in my snake room dropped down into the teens. I came back home to find everything stuff and dead…… it absolutely broke my heart. Particularly the loss of the large female BCI who I had had since I was 14. And those losses have made me gun shy about returning to keeping for quite some time.
So while I’m not super experienced, I have successfully housed and raised many boids and a few of what at least at the time were somewhat advanced reptiles in the past.


Hi @rusty8585! A big Hidee Ho to the forum family! I am not a breeder but I can say that you are certainly getting expert feedback. You came to the right place to discuss your plans. These people will not sugarcoat anything because they want the best for you as well as the hobby.

That being said, you seem to understand the odds of success and failure but at the end of the day you are the one to determine whether to go forward with your dream. So the best of the best to you. Come back and keep us updated.

I am originally from KY. Henderson actually. That’s horrible what happened to your animals there. Take care Rusty! :blush::snake::pray:


Losing your entire collection while out of town sounds crushing. That’s the stuff that nightmares are made of for the folks here. How are you planning to avoid that kind of problem going forward? I would suggest befriending a local herper to check up on them if you go out of town again. There are probably lots of closet herpers around you and you don’t even know it. You just gotta seek them out somehow.

Things have changed significantly in the past 15 years. Keepers and breeders are much more knowledgeable now than back then. I suggest you do as much research as you possibly can before making any kind of purchase, even equipment. Don’t rush into anything. You can easily be researching for months and still be learning valuable stuff. Information your learn at research month three may sway you in a drastic way. For instance, you might be dead set on using aquariums for enclosures today, but after months of research you might want a professionally made large PCV rack. There is a treasure trove of valuable information out there, even just from YouTube. Folks who put out content twice a week for years on a wide variety of BP specific topics. Researching BP stuff on YouTube is quite addictive, especially when you find a few channels that you love. You’re going to find yourself saying, “I did soooooo many things wrong back then. What was I thinking? It’s a miracle my snakes did as well as they did.
I can’t believe I was so ignorant.”. Ignorance can be cured, just do your research.

Be wary of people that tell you your way is wrong and their way is right. Often times there are many ways to skin a cat. What works for a setup in one part of the country might not work in another part of the country.

You want to get as much knowledge as you can before you spend any of your hard earned cash.


Honestly after getting the experience of what breeding takes and the timeframes that these projects actually end up taking, my best advice is “If it is available to buy it just buy it.”

Hitting a Pompeii as a small time hobby breeder from the pieces like you’re describing is at least a decade unless you repeatedly win the lottery. Even breeding Pompeii x Clown you’re looking at hatching about 40 eggs of that pairing before you have reasonable certainty (~90%) of repeating the Pompeii. Going further down that ladder and the numbers required multiply exponentially.

If you’re short on money to be able to buy in at that level I’d say look into buying the one single best female hatchling you can afford today (ideally something like a RS YB SN Clown or even a het), just to quench your thirst, and then save up for the caliber of animals you need to be able to be successful.


I appreciate that input. I was aware from the time I conceived this idea that the odds were pretty long and that **a lot **of luck was going to be involved. Now you have me really thinking. It looks like there’s a couple females available that suit that description. But they are definitely about twice what I was hoping my initial buy in would be. If I can get a breeder to work with me on a payment plan I might be able to make it work.
But I do like the idea of paying a bit more up front and hopefully with the right male I can at at least start playing the final odds on the first pairing.


If you do go that route, when you’re ready to get a male go for filling in the missing morphs plus shoot for supers of the one in your female. (Where appropriate: Super BP has deformity issues. Super SN has wobble. Super YB is a white snake… Getting “ALS” genes can substitute. Black Head, Asphalt, Enchi for example.)

Hitting combos with supers will help because you lock in one of the genetics so the odds start to improve as you progress. Otherwise you will be rolling the same set of dice every year instead of weighting them in your favor.


I really appreciate the heads up on the super morph problems. The only one I was aware of was super bp deformity problems.