Why is Ball Python Breeding So Addicting?

Decoding the Addiction

Ball Python clutch hatching

Hatching season is my favorite time of year. I go to bed dreaming about what crazy combos may hatch while I sleep, and I wake up ready to run down to my snake room and find out. Rinse and repeat, day in and day out, until the next clutch is due.

How do we explain to non-reptile breeders why this game is so addictive? Is it really all about the gamble? I imagine the same element of chance implores so many to play the lottery week after week after week. Put some money on the line – maybe they will call your number. You never know!

With snakes, that emotional payoff is a few steps removed, and I think it only adds to the experience. We’re not just putting a few bucks on the line. We’re putting multiple years’ worth of effort in to have a chance at hatching that one special snake. That amount of work makes the reward of hitting the odds so intoxicating you can’t wait to do it all over again the following season.

Think about what goes into producing just one clutch:

  • Initial financial investment
    • Between the male and female, this can often be thousands of dollars. 
  • Time and costs of growing up
    • You will incur significant investments of time and money for caging, bedding, food, and care during the two to three years it takes your female to mature.
  • Navigating risk along the way
    • Many circumstances can derail your plans while your animals are growing up. Residence moves, electrical outages or surges, animal sickness, and long feed breaks are the most common culprits.
  • Pairing planning
    • Assuming you made it this far, you now have decisions to make. Think through the possibilities and decide which pair of animals is most worth breeding; this never comes without cost and often requires postponing the chance to make other combos for an entire season.
  • Making the magic happen
    • Now you know what snakes you want to breed – but will they follow your plans? Better keep your fingers crossed for a few successful locks to ensure your male gets the job done.
  • That gravid glow
    • If your boy has made you proud, you will see that lovely ovulation swell and know you now have a gravid female Ball Python… Congrats! Except you’re not out of the woods yet. She may still lay slugs or infertile eggs. All you can do is wait to find out.
  • Getting eggs
    • Getting a nice clutch of eggs is a huge success. Still, you’re not out of the woods yet. Properly set up egg boxes, a reliable incubator, and power backup are all key to a successful incubation period. 60 days to go.
  • Hatching a clutch
    • You did it! Your clutch is hatching; the end is in sight. But did all the babies make it full term? Here is where your incubator investment and incubation technique pay off.
  • Battling the odds
    • The odds are the final obstacle – and the one you cannot control. I like to say I’m at the mercy of the odds-gods. Were you trying to hit that 1 in 4 snake, 1 in 16, or even harder? Were you working with possible hets? The element of luck comes in now. Because the win is always in doubt until the very end, it is oh-so gratifying to see your vision become a reality.

It’s the ultimate adrenaline rush. Every year, we put it all on the line with the hopes of creating something that only exists in our head (and dreams). After conquering every obstacle and sometimes daunting odds, to see that little head poking out 10 months later is a feeling that can’t be replaced.

And if we miss the odds… it makes winning the following season even sweeter.  Did I mention these things are addictive?!

Justin K.

Similar Posts