The Ball Python industry is growing, and growing fast. If you want to get involved but don’t know where to start – here are the top 8 things to consider when building a collection.
- Plan plan plan. Time spent in planning is gained back a hundred times over in the future. Too many impulse buyers find themselves losing interest or headed down the wrong road because they don’t have a clear goal. It is much easier to modify a plan that is not yet implemented than trying to change it 3 years into the project.
- When you have your plan, focus on females first. These are the life blood of your collection. Without great girls, your males will never live up to their potential. Females also take longer to mature, so get them early and start growing them up. Under ideal conditions its not unreasonable to expect 25% or more of your females to produce their 2nd spring/summer.
- When you have the foundation laid with great females, buy the most powerful male you can afford. While a female can only produce one clutch, a male’s genetics are passed to many clutches. A great male brings home your investment on the females. There is no point owning an expensive male which will depreciate for 12 months while the females are still too small to produce.
- Always look to upgrade your collection every year in big or small ways. If you want your collection to be profitable, you can’t be sentimental about selling snakes that aren’t right for your plans. These sales can also help fund expenses or reinvestments while you are building your collection.
- Always consider the costs involved from the outset. Be honest with yourself and keep robust budgets if you are breeding for profit. The first few years can be brutal with expenses. If you’re so inclined, these costs can be reduced by doing things yourself. Build your own rodent racks, clean the snakes yourself, build your own website if you have the expertise etc. Remember, the animal’s health comes first… Don’t overextend yourself, or your plans will come tumbling down.
- Manage risk. Even the best laid plans can be derailed by small things. Don’t overlook the need for things like quality tools, redundant safety equipment, generators, etc. Try to overlap your Ball Python projects if possible, so that you have back up breeders if needed. Guard against selling things with fishy genetics. Nothing will kill your fledgling business faster than shorting your customers on their animals genetics.
- Buy animals that you can count on. Avoid searching out best deal on craigslist. You will often regret it. Breeders often sell good quality stock that they are themselves upgrading and it should often not be a problem. There is also advantage to buying babies and growing them up with complete control over their entire lives. This way you can also be certain that you are not buying someone else’s problem snake.
- Finally, these are live animals that deserve our respect and care. Only consider starting your Ball Python endeavor if you love the animals. When it is 9pm in the middle of winter and you have to go outside and clean the rodents, or feed snakes, you will need to love what you are doing. If you love what you do, both you and the animals will reap the rewards.
– Justin Kobylka with contributions from Sebastian Walker