One of the things I like so much about the reptile business is that there is no uninteresting time of year (ball python breeding in particular). You’re always doing something with your animals. Feeding, cleaning, cycling temperature, adjusting humidity, feeding, cleaning, varying light cycles, breeding, incubating, feeding, cleaning, hatching, selling, trading, buying …and feeding and cleaning. There is no down time, no off season. It’s not too unlike professional sports, actually. Football players start the season focused on making the playoffs. Once in the playoffs they focus on getting to the championship game. Once they win the championship game they focus on the Super Bowl. After that little event they focus on training for the following season so they can do it all over again. It’s a cycle and it never ends. Reptile breeding is just like this. You fatten up your females as best you can and start breeding in the fall. You start getting eggs in late winter/early spring. Hatching starts in early spring through late summer. As soon as eggs drop you start fattening up again. At the same time you are working to sell or trade the years production. The animals you keep or the one’s you acquire have a little sub-routine that runs in parallel; you feed them to get them up to breeding size in a timely fashion. Baby snakes have a much more basic cycle: feed, clean, feed, clean, clean, feed, clean, feed, clean, clean, feed, clean. It is not lost on me how many incredibly intelligent people who are in the reptile business who have somehow chosen to clean snake poop as a career/favorite pastime. It’s a testimony to the general awesomeness of reptiles that we’re willing to endure such dirty work to have the magical moments that successful husbandry provides.
Right now I’m at the stage where I’m wondering if I’m going to make the playoffs. I do it to myself every year at this time. I’m at that stage where females are ovulating and going into pre-lay sheds. And it’s at this time of year when you start to wonder if you’ve done everything right. If you’re anything like me you can easily talk yourself into a panic. You start to think that you aren’t going to have any clutches at all, or maybe only a tiny fraction of what you are expecting. Year after year I drive myself crazy with worry and year after year it turns out to be unfounded. Everything works out fine. Worrying is part of the cycle for me.
Now the genetic odds on what pokes out of the egg in about 2 months is a completely different story. And that’s actually next up in my cycle of things to drive myself insane over.