The Fine Line Between Hobby and Hardship

At times, when life is in progress, this hobby is not capable of not being a hardship. Hanging in there through those times, and finding ways to make it work better are the best you can do. That’s also what separates the long term community members from the revolving door keepers that come and go.

Even at that size, you’ve got a lot of extra work to do. It’s a great experience if you can make it through life’s tough spots without your animals suffering. It definitely builds character. As long as you aren’t paying too high a personal cost like @owalreptiles mentioned above. You’re well being is a priority as much as the animal’s is.


This is extremely commendable. As humans we all tend towards at least a bit of a hoarders mentality at times. Keeping boundaries like that on your hobby keeps it from ever entering the arena of overwhelming your life. I had no idea that any of my businesses would last, let alone succeed (and eat into my time as much as they do). Suddenly I was completely out of my league and I paid for it personally before I got everything back in line. As much as I’d like to think I had it all covered, there’s no way I did and I’m sure I was dropping balls in both courts.

100% My rodents are way more of a pain than my snakes!

This is another critical point. If my rodent colony crashed, I’d be looking at a $6-800/month food bill on the low end, and during breeding season that could end up around $1k at my local prices or online. And you know what? It’s happened before lol. Once an auto waterer failed, the other time my swamp cooler died while I was at work. Recovering from those two incidents cost me more than a years worth of rodent food does!


We’re definitely trying our best to get situated so we can dedicate more time to our snakes and even ourselves, and just be happier in general.

My fiancé was often exhausted from his own job, and working night shift made it worse. Vending at expos, or even attending some of the local ones, were always a hassle because he’d be falling asleep at the wheel, and too tired to focus on seeing the animals when we were just attending.

Since he quit his job, and was able to adjust back to a normal day time schedule, when we went to Tinley he didn’t have those same issues and actually got to enjoy the expo and seeing all the cool animals. It was awesome, really!

That’s also true! We also breed our own rodents so we don’t have to spend much extra on feeders, though we also have the means to pay for them if/when we need to.

We currently split the workload when it comes to the snakes — I’ll take care of the babies and juveniles, as well as all the non-ball python snakes — he cares for the subadults and adults and usually does the rodent care.

I also manage all the social media and online business related things, as well as feeding and record keeping. So it works out pretty well at the moment.


As someone who has failed in business as much as I’ve succeeded, you’re getting extremely valuable experience whether you make it or not as a business. The ‘not’ part really sucks when it’s happening to you, but it’s where all the important lessons come from that you need to succeed.


I conducted a “time audit” of my reptile hobby to determine how many reptiles I take care of to an A+ standard while also keeping this as a hobby and not hiring any employees.

For me personally I find that the max number of adult colubrids I can keep is effectively 40

I do want to note that I have 3 children, a full time day job, and i’m OCD when it comes to cleanliness so I may be a bit overboard in my cleaning routine. I see 1 poop I gotta clean it.


That’s a great way to approach it. Especially when you have a family, whether they’re involved in the hobby or not. Reptiles can’t be all consuming of your time. My wife reminds me of that occasionally, and we don’t even have kids (yet?) :joy:

Having those boundaries is fantastic. Husbandry and care are the most important aspects of keeping, and they quickly suffer when you’re over extended.


I agree with what has been said.

I personally don’t know how many breeding sized boas I will be able to care for but I know that before I purchase them I will have separate fail safes for my collection and my family. As it is now, I can do my daily maintenance (spraying if needed, water change, and check if I need to spot clean) very efficiently. Even doing a full substrate change can be finished in 10 minutes or so (if I am doing it very relaxed). I do doubt that I will be able to care for 100 boas but I think I could support 30 eventually (money wise, and care wise). I personally don’t want employees because I want this to be a small business that I can operate and care for. I want what is best for my family and my animals. Getting big in the business sense will top that for me. I value family and my animals to much.

I am very money and care conscious.

But I will say, we will see the best is yet to come.


As a guy with only a few reptiles (15 snakes and lizards) that may only ever breed a couple of colubrids and crested geckos, this is invaluable information. Helps me keep things in perspective. I’d like to have a good sized crested gecko program, but I know my limitations at the moment. And I’d be that guy that can’t sell anything because I want them all.

So thanks all for sharing your lives and lessons learned.


I absolutely love this thread! I have several reptiles myself and also being the only expert in my very rural area, get asked a lot of questions and have even had people give me animals. My partner is also very into reptiles because of me, and she has been willing to learn and help out as she can! It makes a world of difference, considering I work 2 jobs on top of freelancing, and she works part time as well as she attends post-secondary schooling. We may have a rather small collection (5 ball pythons, a crestie, and a leo) but we both have agreed to boundaries for our animals to promote healthy husbandry on top of allowing our conversations about money or other traditionally “touchy” topics to be much more easily approached and about listening to each other and our ideas and concerns.

We also have a 24 hour rule, were we have to wait 24 hours from inquiry and receiving confirmation from the other of a possible purchase to move forward. That way, we have to talk about a new animal and take some time to consider if it is a good addition to our program. Even if you don’t have someone to talk to about purchases, setting healthy boundaries and even saving up for large purchases can be much better than buying on impulse, I have found. Best of luck out there everyone!


Graveyard Snakes


I too love this thread!

Hubby and I have several Cresties & snakes for several years now and we help each other out as much as possible.

This year was our first year of BP clutches and next year will be out first season of crested gecko breeding :crossed_fingers:

We are breeding for us so decided to do no more than 2 of each per year (for now) so we don’t become over run with too many reptiles too quickly. Esp as we haven’t sold any of the baby BPs yet :sweat_smile: I can’t even bring myself to sex them as it might make us decide who stays and who goes lol although I need to, so that I can name them :relaxed:

We have a dedicated room for BPs and racks for cresties. So plenty of room for more, but we are taking our time as we don’t want it to become a choir or too much hassle. Especially as we both work and have 2 children that take up majority of our time.

I’m usually very organised and I will make sure I have empty enclosures and accessories long before I buy another reptile.

It’s great to read all your stories so thanks for them.


I’m glad this thread has resonated with some of you. It’s easy to get caught up in this hobby and end up burning out. I’ve been very mentally fatigued from work lately and if I didn’t have help to keep up the snakes, I would be buried under that workload as well. Life isn’t nice, and as positive as we all try to be, sometimes it’s going to kick you ribs right when you’re trying to catch your breath. That’s the biggest reason NOT to have a large collection. It can very easily be a dark thing looming over you if you don’t have it well maintained.


Just wanted to post a friendly reminder that if you’re overwhelmed with your collection, help isn’t expensive, and can change the whole atmosphere of your room!

These two keep the mood light and happily work as much as I need them to to keep things sharp around here. I couldn’t enjoy my collection the way I do, and keep up with my career without them. It’s important to me to pay them well but they happily work extra regardless of the pay. Your reptiles are fantastically interesting to someone, let them help and enjoy them with you.

I live in California in a median market but both of them for 3 hours on a Saturday runs me less than $100. It’s well worth it!!!


Personally, I couldn’t keep more snakes than I could provide regular socialization for, which for me is daily interaction for at least 30 minutes with each animal.


Awesome. Everyone should set boundaries that work for them. I personally don’t think snakes should be handled on a daily basis but we do make sure that all the animals have regular environmental enrichment. I have a couple of different outdoor ‘playgrounds’ on my property designed just for the snakes to feel secure but be able to interact with a semi natural environment on a regular basis, on their own terms. You can check it out here.


I think handling certainly varies by species. I can only speak for what I presently keep (Angolan pythons). Of course I don’t handle after feeding or during shed. I like the playground concept and that’s something I have planned (indoor) to build out in the future.


Company dinner! The employees bring a a whole lot of light to our life. We make sure we take the time time appreciate their efforts.


That’s awesome!! Way to go!!


I agree with this. I don’t hold my colubrids nearly as often as my retics and burm because they show signs of stress after only a few mins.
20 mins is pushing it with my colubrids.

Where as my retics are more or less “excited” to be out and if they had the choice would stay out 24/7.They fight me because they’d rather explore new scents and knock crap over than to go find a hide or be put into their enclosures.

My retics could just be abnormally confident though, because they don’t even try to hide under anything while being out.

When they get done when I take them outside in the yard, they associated me with transportation (this took over 2 summers for Meph, and Zarathos came around right at the end of summer to learn. A little under half a summer for her) and will come back and “find me” and try to climb up my legs. But they spend allot of time outside during the summer and most people with a day job can’t dedicate that much time sitting in the back yard for several hours a day to get them to associate a weird human creature with transportation.

Especially when you are only taking 1 at a time like you preferably should to minimize stress.

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@ballornothing , thanks for posting. Hiring one or two young people (I’m resisting the urge to say “kids”) to help out with a collection a few hours a week seems like a wonderful win-win. My collection isn’t big enough to warrant that yet, but if/when it gets that big, that’s what I intend to do.

When I was in high school and college, I would have killed for an opportunity to tend a larger collection, and getting paid at all would have been amazing. I know there are other things to consider when bringing employees into a business, but from a purely hobbyist and community perspective, bringing on a couple young people to help out is great for everyone, including the animals, and the more experience that young keepers get around animals and with established keepers, the better the community will be! I wish this were a more common practice.


It’s been a very positive experience, once I arrived at good help that is lol. They love it and it makes them great ambassadors to the snake hobby. They’re always happy to try to educate someone about snakes and their energy is infectious. I remember having that much energy :joy:

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