What happens when the market becomes oversaturated?

This question comes into conversation at least a few times a year.

I’ve been breeding balls pythons since 1993, when Albinos were the only proven genetic mutation and cost $10k each. Back then I sold CB normals for a Benjamin even while CH imports were less than $10. I sold out every year without really trying, and there was no internet to rely on.

The hobby has exponentially grown since that time and while the market does have ups and downs, it has remained consistent for the duration. If you’re not trying to improve on your goals each year, you may struggle a little. You have to think long-term and see what isn’t here…yet.

I often get asked about single gene Sandblast animals, a project I now have devoted 15 years to at this point. My goal is never to create single gene animals in a project that makes 6+ gene animals, and in most cases I don’t have the capability to make single gene animals. It would be a disservice to the project and the hobby to backstep. Always be moving forward. The hobby is stronger now than I have ever seen it.

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I’m trying to become a breeder as a hobbiest. I can honestly say that as a hobbiest I would never cull snakes for financial reasons. Only if the animal was in pain…While there are big breeders who make their living selling reptiles. ( big doesn’t mean unethical)I feel like a lot of the breeders are hobbiest who love reptiles and wouldn’t think twice about keeping a normal or spending hundreds at the vet for an animal worth 20 dollars. Look at Snarfels at Nerd. He is malformed, he can eat and live just fine and has been well kept all his life even though he isn’t a breeder and has no real value. (debatable, Nerd and many others value him for himself)
Also I would guess that many buyers would boycott a breeder known for financial culling. I would.

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I agree :100: here the last two years in particular for me seems the market significantly growing.

Nor would I, honestly I don’t think the vast majority of breeders would. I haven’t hatched a normal in two years but if i did it would receive the same care as any other hatchling.

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If I breed them, it is my responsibility to care for them. So if I can’t sale the animal, it will live with me. Animals I sale are always welcomed back. To cull or otherwise harm them because a breeder over produced is wrong.

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That’s expensive food!

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The market, like everything else, has also shifted due to Covid. Fewer/no expos, fewer ppl attending/limited, means more online & shipping. Early on I saw a boost in ppl collecting/adding because they were home more.

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Online reptile sales have exponentially grown in the last 11 months.

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For me as well.

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 It is inevitable with anything supply & demand. It was bound to happen this is obvious. 

Someone said earlier in this which I agree on, keeping normals male/female is essential in a collection to breed back these multigene animals to figure out which is actually in them which would be the responsible way and also to prove out unknown genetics as well via imports. via single gene animals have there place always plus they are awesome & aswell to strengthen a gene pool and or line.
We are getting to a point were breeding two multigene animals together in which we can’t physically differentiate some genes + hets, yb/gravel. fire/sulfur. asphalt/yb etc.
I think in my opinion is irresponsible (which is your choice to buy them) (but at the same time need them to produce the allelic supers I get it.) and will most likely become a s$%% show in the near future with these animals getting into the wrong hands.
If you don’t pay attention and buy from a breeder that documents and gets from other breeders that document.
I think of it as kind of dog breeding with pedigrees makes it easier… people selling animals with so many unknown genes in them we will end up in a boiling pot of what the f$%^ is that( They look awesome but genetics will become a mess)
If you ride motorcycles some breeders are at the point of death wobble ( going way to f%^$ fast and just holding on hoping for the best lol) I wont ever tell anyone what to do in their collection just stay aware and think ahead a bit before you create a mess in your group of animals.

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I’m new to the hobby. I got into it late in life because of… Well, life. I didn’t have a lot of money to get started, only about $2000-2500 for everything. At least that’s what I told my husband I spent. That’s more than we’ve ever paid for a car. I had to start with single gene, double gene and het animals (I did get a couple triples, eventually). It means my projects will take a year or two longer, but I’m thankful they exist. Think about if I had to buy $500+ snakes on the budget I had.

A group I’m in says snakes are like chips. You can’t just have one. You’d be surprised how many pet owners start with one and end up with five. Plus, there is at least 10 new people a day to join who’s looking to get or just got a snake. Some of them do buy $3500 snakes as pets, but many more of them are quite happy with a normal or a pastel. And they do shop MM!

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gene7exotics is making a valid point that I would urge people in the hobby to seriously consider. In the cornsnake world, some years ago Kathy Love coined a term in reference to snakes with so many hets that it becomes impossible to determine what is actually genetically responsible for observed morphs. She referred to this issue as “Corn Soup”. Until such time as we have reliable DNA fingerprinting for the genes responsible for various morphs (which would certainly involve a fee), the only ways to know what genes a particular snake has, is for all breeders to keep very detailed records, or to engage in test breedings that can take years and may or may not be completely informative. Imagine the frustration of producing a potentially new morph but not being able to confirm it, or possibly not being able to reproduce it because you lack the genetic information to do so. Genetic fingerprinting of cornsnake morphs is a project I have been interested in for some time. However, because it is nearly impossible to find individuals with a single het (and absolutely nothing else hidden in the genome), actually developing genetic fingerprinting for corns may be impossible (or at least will be very time consuming and require someone who is ridiculously dedicated to seeing it through). This was not the case with cornsnakes just 10-15 years ago. I suppose part of the point I’m trying to make is that those single het individuals may have additional, unrecognized value to the hobby. IDK what the magic number is, but at some point, snakes with “too many hets” is a thing that should be considered.

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One of the primary factors driving a given snake’s desirability has to do with how rare it is. I suspect that as the genetic soup continues to get more and more diluted, we may see a time in a few years when single or double gene animals whose genetic purity can be proved will end up becoming extremely valuable again. In other words, if you currently have some single or double gene animals that are proven out, hang on to them!

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Absolutely the right attitude to have towards breeding them.

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I don’t really see that happening at all as it doesn’t make sense. Single gene Mojaves and pastels are never going to be rare, even if the larger breeders are all breeding multigene combos. Crossing snakes will multiple morphs will still yield single gene morphs (albeit at a lower percentage) and there’s always going to be craiglist breeders who are justing breeding normals and single gene morphs. These snakes are cheap, abundant, and readily available and I don’t see that changing

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I really don’t see this happening consider all our genetic purity usually traces back to a single imported animal.

The majority of corn snake genes are recessive a majority of the ball python genes are incomplete co dominant meaning you can visually see them. Het shows no signs of the trait. With incomplete co dom traits you will visually what is creating the combos.
Corn soup is a het soup totally different.

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There will always be a spectrum of viewpoints on any given issue and this one is certainly no exception. There are always going to be some breeders who could care less about knowing everything about the genetics of their snakes (or at least are not detail oriented enough to keep track of it all). I know plenty of breeders that fall in to that category more or less, and those individuals have every right to approach the hobby in whatever way they want. I would say most are enthusiastic about the hobby and take great care and pride in their reptiles. Personally, I choose to do business with others like myself that keep detailed records so that I know exactly what the genetics of the snakes I am producing are.

Your point about recessive versus co-dom and dominant genes is valid. The problem, for me personally, is when multiple recessive genes are present and possibly visually expressed in a single individual… i.e., morphs that are difficult to discern from one another in hatchlings. Even if you know the exact genetics of the parents, if there are multiple potential similar-looking morphs possible in a single clutch, even the breeder cannot be absolutely sure what the genetics of the snake they are selling to you are. Then someone buys and breeds that snake and the issue snowballs with every generation. This is exactly why I don’t do things like combine Anery A with Anery B.

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Nobody truly knows exactly all the genetics on every snake. This is why random genes pop up save for dna testing but I don’t ever see that being an option anytime soon. But I understand your point I like to know as much info on any snake I’m bringing into my collection as well.

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I think rather than imagining a scenario based on nothing but your imagination, it would be educational for you to consider what has happened to other popular herps when the market has become saturated. Like leopard geckos and bearded dragons or take your pick. Culling hasn’t happened. What has happened is the sale price drops to a point too low for many breeders to feel comfortable working for and they sell off their breeding stock. Generally it falls into less experienced hands that do not end up breeding the animals regularly and to “pet” owners. This only happens to older less expensive morphs. There always seems to be demand for the latest morphs and stuff.

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Thanks, I agree that it is educational to consider other reptilian breeding hobbies and their markets.

Although this isn’t a fair comparison, I was thinking about this problem also in relation to other breeding hobbies and their dark sides, e.g. dog breeding and the concept of puppy mills.

I don’t think snakes are bred in the same inhumane conditions with little regard to genetics and inherited health problems, hence why the comparison isn’t fair or true. But having this discourse to shed light on solutions to curb any unethical practices is what I’m hoping for.

I do believe there is always a person who would be happy to have the “unwanted” single, het, or normal ball pythons.
Fifteen years ago I started with a single normal female. A year later I had 7 het and possible hets. Within another year I had lost my home and had to sell off my collection. I couldn’t part with my normal female, so she came with me as I had to move in with my (now ex) in laws. They hated snakes, and one day in the winter while I was out, they unplugged all of her heating equipment and killed her.
All these years later I’m finally moving to my own house, with a spare room. I am finally able to have snakes again, and I’m amazed by all of the morphs that have come out.
Fifteen years ago the super Mojave, bel was a $5,000-$10,000 snake. Now it’s in the $500-$2,000 range. That was my holy grail.
While the price drop may be hard on the breeders, it allows people who could never afford those morphs to be able to have them.
I don’t think there’s ever any need for culling, there’s always someone who would love them if you don’t want them.

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