Practical Principles for Ball Python Breeders

Practical Principles for Ball Python Breeders

Written by : Posted on February 1, 2012 : 31 Comments

Practical Principles for Ball Python BreedersAs a ball python breeder I constantly evaluate the best ways to get a maximum return on my investment.  This makes me no different than any other business person, regardless of the choice of profession.  I endeavor to be pragmatic when it comes to expected profitability and I have come to believe that there many ways to do this snake breeding thing right.  Alternately, there at least as many ways to do it wrong.  What’s right and what’s wrong can vary based on circumstance and is often a matter of perspective. If the end result is little more than baby snakes poking their heads out of eggs then I know I am right to say that what’s right and what’s wrong is chock full of opinion and personal preference.  I know this because I have seen too many people be successful using too many variations of what I consider “right”.  Right, in this instance, is grey.  What’s right for me right now may not be so in a year and it may never be right for you.  From feeding to breeding to incubating I have seen a wide range of choices that all lead to success.  What works for you is what you should do.  But therein lies the rub; how to figure out what works without making a lot of costly mistakes along the way.  We learn from each other but we don’t have to completely emulate each other’s techniques and processes.  Ball python breeding is more flexible than many people realize and the grey areas provide a good bit of wiggle room.  Having written that I believe there are certain best practices and principles that, when carefully considered and/or implemented, can put you more on the side of doing things right.  I don’t intend the advice I am about to offer to be anything other than suggestions for your consideration.  I have violated almost all of my own best practices in the past and have little doubt I will do it again in the future.  I endeavor to remain keenly aware of the violations when I make them and I remain fully conscious of the risks and accept, in advance, the consequences.

So here they are: my ball python breeder best principles and practices:

Simple Recessive:  “Hoes Before Bros”

It is a simple and unalterable fact that female ball pythons take longer to reach sexual maturity than males.  Most females won’t breed until their third or fourth winter while males can potentially be ready inside of a year, 18 months almost without fail.  If, in the same buying season, you acquire both male and female hatchlings for a project your male will be ready to breed not less than a full year before the female.  The only guaranteed thing you can do during that time is watch the value of the morph continue to fall.  When examining the original price paid you will see that you acquired and paid for the male at least a full year in advance of when you should have.  You should have purchased only females in year one and waited at least a full year before buying the male.  Doing this makes it more likely that you will have both of them reaching sexual maturity at the same time.  This minimizes your losses from depreciation.  So the next time you are looking to start a simple recessive project, buy your females first; pick up the males a year later.

This best practice may not appear to make sense if you already have other females that will be ready when the male is a year old (give or take).  But that all-too-common scenario really just illustrates the point.  The females you already have that will be paired with the male were acquired (or born) long before the male, which is exactly what I am suggesting should be done with simple recessives.

Dominant/Co-Dominant:  “Bros Before Hoes”

If you are going to visually see the product of your breeding in the first generation of offspring (e.g. dominant/co-dominant genes) it is a better decision to invest in males first and turn your attention to the acquisition of females in the following year(s).  Dominant and Co-Dominant (incomplete dominant) prices fall fast.  In order to have a chance at seeing a return in a reasonable time period you have to work for very fast turnaround.  Many males can be ready to breed in less than a year and, assuming they perform, you will see the product of your efforts in the next breeding season.  This allows you to begin recouping your investment after only one season of depreciation.  If you are using females to get yourself into a particular co-dom project you will have to patiently suffer through 2-3 seasons of depreciation before seeing the first dollars in return.  This is too painful for most people to bear and is not an ideal use of investment capital.

A corollary to this principle is that the eventual investment in co-dom/dominant females is required.  It is only when both the male and female are genetically special that we see the really exceptional designer morph advancement.  It should be abundantly obvious that true genetic progress only comes when both male and female are contributing genetic awesomeness to the mix.  Four, five & six gene snakes don’t typically get made because all of the genetic mutations come from one side of the family; both mom and dad have to be sufficiently morphed-up in order to make really morphed-up kids.  It’s all about genetic synergy.

Pair Genetically Greater Boys with Genetically Lower Girls …But Never the Other Way Around
(Put Another Way:  Never Breed a More Expensive Female to a Less Expensive Male)

It is reasonable to buy a male dominant/co-dom morph and use it to make more of the same (e.g. breed it to a normal female).  However, you should never do that with a female.  When you acquire female dominant/co-dominant morphs it should be with the full intent of breeding it to a male whose genetics are different (and typically of greater financial value than hers).  It is economically effective to acquire a male dominant/co-dominant animal and breed it to a genetically lower female.  The opposite is never true.  Do not acquire a dominant/co-dominant female and breed it to a genetically lower male.   Please note that ‘genetically lower’ refers to the financial value of the morph.  For example:

  • It is sane to buy a pastel male and breed it to a normal female.  It is insane to by a normal male and breed it to a pastel female.
  • It is sane to buy a champagne male and breed it to a pastel female.  It is insane to buy a champagne female and breed it to a pastel male.
  • It is sane to buy a silver surfer male and breed it to a ghost female.  It is insane to buy a silver surfer female and breed it to a ghost male.
  • It is sane to buy a male albino and breed it to a het albino female.  It is insane to buy an albino female and breed it to a het albino male.  Please note that your sanity is also in question if you breed an albino male to an albino female.  At the very least breed female albinos with a male who is albino plus something else (albino spider, albino pinstripe, albino black pastel, etc.).
  • Do not buy a pastel female with plans of breeding her to a pastel male (even though you can make super pastels).  It is no longer true that breeders intentionally produce super pastel ball pythons; they are almost always the product of missed opportunity in a different pairing (e.g. lemon blast x pastel lesser can produce super pastels but it is not what the breeder was trying for).  A female pastel bred to any other co-dom morph will, in the best case, always produce babies that are worth more money than a super pastel.

I almost gave myself an aneurysm this breeding season when I pulled a clutch of eggs from a bumble bee female and realized I had bred her to a pinstripe male.  This is a classic example of wasted female potential.  My decision to breed that particular pair of animals was rooted in my lack of males to go with all of my females.  I have a lot of 3, 4 and 5-gene males …but I have a lot more females.  Rather than breed her to nothing or try to stretch a male too thinly I, at some point, decided that the long odds of making spinner blasts was better than nothing at all.  The problem is that the odds of making spiders and pinstripes is much greater and that negates the value of such a great female.  Don’t make mistakes like that.

Diversity is a Detriment

Quality never goes out of style.  This does not require much elaboration.  But quantity

Quantity of production of a particular morph is a benefit.  This is obviously true from the simple “more is better” perspective.  But quantity of production is also important for a breeder because the acquisition of many of your morphs will come out of  your own production and it is only after the needs of your own collection are satisfied that you can begin to easily entertain the notion of selling the results of your production.  You will forever be your own best customer and that is not a financially good thing.  If, because of limited breeding stock, you only produce a tiny handful of the morph you are shooting for you will be hard-pressed to sell when you finally hit on the odds.  How many times have you heard yourself say, “Yeah, I’ve got to keep this.”?   This could mean that your ability to sell your productive efforts is pushed back by a full breeding season and that push has a tangible financial value.

If you only produce a single clutch of clowns how can you easily sell them when you don’t have all of the clowns you need for yourself?  If you sell them without first satisfying the needs of your own collection you are effectively decreasing the worth of your collection (while increasing the quality of your competitor’s collection).  Ball python breeding groups are always depreciating in value and, as such, must continuously be upgraded to keep them even with the market.  If the diversity of morphs in your collection is out of proportion to its size you will probably produce comparatively few of each kind of morph.  The desire to keep them will be powerful and each animal you keep is less money in your pocket this season.  If you focus less on diversity and more on quantity you will be more likely to produce an abundance of a particular morph.  The decision to sell becomes easier and all you need to do is decide which animal(s) to keep rather than if there is an animal to keep.

It is not as exciting to keep a larger number of the same morph but it is definitely more profitable.  On the other hand, a diverse collection is more fun to look at but, since you are more likely to keep the best of your production, you are more of a hobbyist than a businessperson (and I’m not really writing for the hobbyist at the moment).

This principle also has a few corollary’s:

  1. When you produce a particular morph in quantity you have more to choose from when selecting quality.  You get to pick the very best of what you produce to keep for yourself rather than having to hold on to whatever you get.
  2. There can be a lot of variation in feeding response with ball pythons.  If you have several of the same morph you can hold them for a few weeks/months to see which are the best feeders.  You should always keep the best-looking, best-feeding animals for yourself.  And no, this is not an ethical issue.  A negative-minded person will read this and say that I wrote, “keep the good stuff for yourself, sell the crappy stuff to your customers.”  I’m not suggesting that at all.  Bluntly:  I suggest that you keep the very best for yourself, sell the remaining excellent product to your customers and, if you have anything of “low” quality (unattractive, poor feeding response, etc.), sell it to the wholesalers.  And yes, that should serve as a warning to people who buy the cheapest snake they can find (which is usually from the wholesalers).  Trust me on this one; the great deal you just got on that snake may not be as great a deal as you think.  As is often the case in life, you get what you pay for.

Nobody is going to tend to your collection but you.  If you don’t take steps to make sure it is the best is can be …who will?  If you give your friend’s first pick they will take the very best of what you produce and expect the lowest price.  If you put the very best of what you produce up for the world to buy, it will sell and people will applaud you for your quality.  But at what cost?  If you build your own collection from the leftovers how long can your collection remain superior?  Hopefully that question is rhetorical.  Never feel bad about keeping the best for yourself.  It is your responsibility to do so.  Altruism has no place anywhere on this planet, including the ball python business.

Refinement is a Religion

As you read this article the financial value of your ball python collection is falling.  The only way to keep it even or, dare I say, growing in value is to constantly increase its genetic quality.  If you have single-gene males now you need to upgrade them to multi-gene males for next year.  If you have a large number of normal female breeders you need to upgrade them to pastels, black pastels and other single-gene co-dom girls.  If you already have a solid base of single-gene breeder females you need to upgrade them to multi-gene girls.  And as soon as that upgrade is complete you will need to begin to do it again.  You cannot maintain profitability in a market as volatile as the ball python trade without constantly upgrading.  It, like the different combinations of morphs that can be produced, is endless.

Be mindful of the size of your collection as you go through this process.  The desire to keep the old while adding the new can quickly lead to an excessively large collection.  Big collections come with big caging bills, even bigger rodent bills and endless maintenance requirements.  The key here is to constantly increase the quality of the collection, not its size.  As one girl comes of age she should be moving into, not next to, the slot of another girl.  Don’t get me wrong, though.  If you want to grow your collection, do so.  But know how it is growing.  Collections in growth-mode need to grow in size and quality simultaneously.  Don’t keep older, less valuable, animals into infinity.  A $100 female breeder eats just as much as a $1,000 female breeder, requires the same amount of time to care for and generally produces animals that are worth significantly less.  A person who is breeding ten $1,000 females is going to make as much or more money with less effort and less overhead than the person breeding fifty $100 normal females.

2.0 Males

Keep multiple males of the same morph.  2.0 Pastel Genetic Stripes, 2.0 Pieds, 2.0 Pastel Lessers and 2.0 Honey Bees.  Not all males are good breeders and not all females are receptive to any male.  If you want to maximize the percentage of females that lay viable eggs each season you need to make sure they have as many opportunities as possible to be with a male.  Rotating at least two males of the same morph with each female will do this.  Yes, it is more expensive and no, it is not as exciting as having a bunch male morph diversity.  But this isn’t about having the prettiest collection; it’s about having the most productive collection possible.  The addition of a second male should easily pay for itself in the form of a higher rate of oviposition.  If the addition of another male can increase the number of females who produce each season by 10% he will pay for himself (and then some) in one year.

How many people ever see your collection anyway?  I can still count on two hands the number of people who have actually been to my facility over the past few years.  Would you rather “ooh and aah” over  your snake rack or your bank account?  Pick one and then act accordingly.  Very few of us can do both.

The One Who Dies with the Largest Ball Python Collection Does Not Win

Quality versus quantity.  Consider a tale of two breeders; one hatches 2,000 ball pythons each season with prices ranging from $8 – $10,000.  The other breeder hatches 300 babies with most prices ranging in the $500-$5,000 and up range.  Both are making money, no doubt.  But the guy with 2,000 baby snakes is busting his butt every day, has a crew of people helping him and has massive overhead.  The guy producing a comparative handful of snakes is doing it on his own, mostly in the evenings.  He enjoys spending time with his animals and has paid his house off over the past five years.  Both paths are a way to make money but one is a harder life.  The decidedly American mentality that “more is better” is tough to shake; it’s everywhere around us every day.  A smaller, higher-end collection is worth a lot more in time spent and overall quality of life.  But that is just an opinion, not a fact.

Never Breed Recessives a Year After Dominant/Co-Dominants

If you breed a dominant/co-dominant male to a female in one breeding you should avoid breeding that female to a simple recessive carrying male in the following season.  If you do there is a chance, albeit a small one, that the babies might not be the hets you think them to be.  Ball pythons can and do retain sperm across breeding seasons.  No, it is not terribly common (I believe it to be very rare) but I know more than one breeder who has witnessed it.  I have produced many thousands of ball pythons and have not had it happen …that I know of.  But one thing I am powerfully motivated to never do is sell someone a het and have it not prove out.  For that reason I am careful in pairings not only within the same breeding season, but also from one breeding season to the next.  In order to to this you must keep excellent records.  Consider the following pairings:

Pairing #1:  Risky and too stressful for me

    • Year 1:  Pastel female x Pinstripe male – Possible offspring includes pastels, pinstripes, lemon blasts and normals.  None are het for anything.
    • Year 2:  Pastel female x Ghost Pinstripe male – Possible offspring includes pastels, pinstripes, lemon blasts and normals.  All should be 100% het ghost.  But what if the female had some retained sperm from the previous season?  You are certain the production is 100% het but it may not be …and there is no way to tell until years down the road when your customer experiences the fallout from the mistake.  There was no deception on your part but the mistake is still your responsibility and, with your reputation on the line,  your problem to correct.

Pairing #2:  A slightly safer bet

    • Year 1:  Pastel female x Pinstripe male – Possible offspring includes pastels, pinstripes, lemon blasts and normals.  None are het for anything.
    • Year 2:  Pastel female x Ghost Mojave male – This is a slightly more bearable situation.  The best things to produce from this pairing are mojaves and pastel mojaves, which have no choice but to be 100% het ghost.  The pastels and normals that result from the pairing are almost certainly 100% het ghost but you can only be 99.5% sure.  There is an outside chance that the pastels and normals are from the previous season’s pairing.  If I were to do a pairing like this I would sell the normals and the pastels as “normals”, not hets.  Yes, they are more than likely going to be actual hets but I would not want deal with the fallout several years down the line if they weren’t.

Pairing #3:  Warm and fuzzy feelings for everyone

    • Year 1:  Pastel female x Ghost Pinstripe male – Possible offspring includes pastels, pinstripes, lemon blasts and normals.  All are 100% het for ghost.
    • Year 2:  Pastel female x Black Pewter male – Possible offspring includes silver streaks, black pewters, super pastels, pastels, black pastels and normals.  None should be het for ghost but it is remotely possible that the pastels and the normals are actually hets.  It should go without saying that you cannot sell them as such.  They are sold as the normal, non-het, animals you suspect them to be.  The worst case scenarios is that they are actually carrying the ghost gene and someone gets a happy surprise several years down the road.

Second-Hand Hets are Not a Good Bet

Buying hets is risky business.  The simple fact of the matter is that you have to buy hets either from A) someone you know and trust or B) someone who has a verifiable and trustworthy reputation.  The operative word in both options is ‘trust’.  Over the years  I have had a few bad experiences and I know plenty of other people who have lived through the pain of an animal not proving out.  Because of the time involved it’s really depressing.  Buy a lottery ticket and you’ll know in short order if it’s a loser; buy a het and it can take years to realize that you won’t be getting a return on your investment.  Adding insult to injury is that the het is supposed to be a winner.  At least with a lottery ticket you know you’re taking a chance and could come up empty-handed.  I have written at length about the danger of buying hets.  Rather than beating that horse any further let me refer you to the article called Genetic Provenance, Insanity and Spoiled Milk (http://ballpythonbreeder.com/2010/11/genetic-provenance-insanity-and-spoiled-milk/) that I wrote on the topic.

The article referenced above deals mostly with buying hets directly from the person who has (supposedly) produced it.  But what about buying hets from the person who bought the hets?  I guarantee my hets and I am willing to guarantee hets that I have purchased from others that have proven for me.  But I won’t guarantee or knowingly buy a het that passed through more than one person’s collection.  The only hets I am ever willing to buy are one’s the come from the person who produced them.  At least that way there is a measure of accountability.  If you buy your hets from a wholesaler you need to be at peace with the fact that they are selling them to you under the assumption that the person from whom they bought them wasn’t ripping them off.  Graft in the het business rolls down hill and if it’s you putting male to female it’s you and only you who is going to come out the loser when the het doesn’t prove out.

Avoid Sweet Deals on Other People’s Problems

You simply must exercise Due Care and Due Diligence when buying adult ball pythons.  I have written on this before.  Please read my article titled Sweet Deals on Other People Problems (http://ballpythonbreeder.com/2009/12/sweet-deals-on-other-peoples-problems/) for a detailed discussion on this topic.

Cover Your Assets

Whenever I sell hets I include a Certificate of Genetics that includes a photograph of the animal and describes the genetics it carries.  I also include information on the pairing that was used to produce the animal.  I do this to give my customer a high degree of assurance that the animal is what I claim it to be.  I will not last long in this business if I sell fake hets (which I call “Fets”).  My willingness to sign a document that holds me personally accountable for an animals’ genetics goes a long way to helping people feel better about their purchase.  But I don’t do certificates just for my customer; I do them to protect myself as well.  If I sell a het and years later the person comes to me complaining that it didn’t prove out I have no real defense if there is no photographic record of the animal.  How do I know that the animal they are claiming didn’t prove out was really from me?  I don’t.  This would be a delicate situation and I would like to avoid it.  I do that by making sure that I also have a photographic record of the animal being sold.

Happy Breeding!

Cheers,

Colin Weaver

 

31 comments

  1. Nice article!

    Which pairing should give me the best result based on the following scenario:

    Pastel pied male x spinner blast female

    or

    Spinner blast male x Pastel pied female

    ???????

  2. Your statistical production would be the same with either of those pairings. The question of female use is not whether either of those males is a good choice to breed to her but whether or not you have a male more valuable than those to put to her. If financial value is not your metric then consider the of the pairing to determine if it’s the best direction in which to go. Either pairing you asked about is a genetic winner.

  3. Thanks for the great articles!

    I’m currently thinking about getting into breeding and the only question I have is this; as a new person on the scene with no reputation how likely am I to get stuck with a ton of babies to feed?

    If I bred bumble bee x mojave and all the babies come out looking amazing, would it be possible to sell all those animals? Or would I have just upped my feeding and heating bill sense I still have no reputation as a breeder

  4. No. If the animals you produce are of good quality you shouldn’t have any trouble selling them. Hets may be a challenge with some people as it requires a good bit of trust in the person from whom you are buying them. In the end, we all have to start somewhere. Sell people good animals that are ready to thrive and your reputation will grow from there.

  5. Stephen Gonsalves on said:

    An absolutely brilliant article, however I have to say that reading this(including your other attached articles) has made me realize the many mistakes that I have made since I have joined this hobby. Ah….Ignorance of my mistakes was bliss…LOL!!!
    I really just want to say thank you for all the valuable insights that you have given into both the hobby and also the business side of breeding and dealing with people. I have every intention of taking full advantage of your knowledge and experience that you have so eloquently shared with us.

    Thanks,

    Stephen Gonsalves

  6. Colin,

    Great article – thanks for taking the time to offer your advice! I’m thinking about getting into breeding bps. If you were starting over, which morphs would you start with, and why?

    Ben

  7. Aaron Green on said:

    Hi Collin. Thanks for the very insightful article. I am getting ready to breed my first pair. I have a quick question. I am breeding a male pastel pied x female het pied. My question is, what are my chances to get more pastel pieds out of this clutch? Thank you very much for your time.

    Aaron Green

  8. Collin,

    Just want to start by saying thanks for all the insight, BUT let me introduce my obsession with this hobby I hope to grow into a business like yours. Dinkers!! Dinkers is my problem!! I started off falling in love with the pieds and the albinos of this hobby, and then looked at those breeders that have gotten that one CH baby that changed the game for themselves and not to mention their pockets. I felt like I fell in a trap, bought all the base morphs calicos, pastels, cinnamons, bumblebees, lessers just to get my foot in the door with nothing high end nothing to justify the money I’ve spent for a great investment return<<< my mistake. I'm a new breeder so I'll make this try not to sound like a big ramble LOL.

    I look back even though I like to pride myself on the selective animals I have picked up, and see Ive spent almost $4000 on DINKERS/Prospects more then I've spent on actual animals that will make me money guaranteed. Then feel like I should have kicked myself in the face "wee-man syndrome" all this on a whim to make a name for myself in future business by offering something that no one else may have produced, or just putting my name behind something that reflected my time and effort.

    In all respect I believe in the back of my mind I have something outside of the box and in a year I can tease people on what they can have in their collection. Like the "GHI's, Novas. RIO's, and any thing else I missed I want to produce that! But I've bought from all these established breeders like outback reptiles and others and now I'm thinking why would they let go of something that might be something bigger then a one time 300 dollar sell that I bought them for when people like RDR and BHB spent 100K on animals "Lessers/Pinstripes", saying the price they spent reflects a new morph or having that direct line to Africa buying bags of babies hoping you get somethingand of course I dont have those type of connections.

    This feels like I'm laying on a long leather couch pouring out my heart for buyers remorse, I'm just wondering if you have fallen in the same position. If you have any tips for us dreamers as far as best ways to prove your snake out, certain breeds of morphs to throw at dinkers that can show something abnormal if breed to your prospect, or how to properly document things so when your ready to introduce it if proven, that you get your maximum return or value on your time and effort.

    Ill post my link to my youtube to show you a few of my ideal babies that I've acquired.
    Collin,

    Just want to start by saying thanks for all the insight, BUT let me introduce my obsession with this hobby I hope to grow into a business like yours. Dinkers!! Dinkers is my problem!! I started off falling in love with the pieds and the albinos of this hobby, and then looked at those breeders that have gotten that one CH baby that changed the game for themselves and not to mention their pockets. I felt like I fell in a trap, bought all the base morphs calicos, pastels, cinnamons, bumblebees, lessers just to get my foot in the door with nothing high end nothing to justify the money I've spent for a great investment return<<< my mistake. I'm a new breeder so I'll make this try not to sound like a big ramble LOL.

    I look back even though I like to pride myself on the selective animals I have picked up, and see Ive spent almost $4000 on DINKERS/Prospects more then I've spent on actual animals that will make me money guaranteed. Then feel like I should have kicked myself in the face "wee-man syndrome" all this on a whim to make a name for myself in future business by offering something that no one else may have produced, or just putting my name behind something that reflected my time and effort.

    In all respect I believe in the back of my mind I have something outside of the box and in a year I can tease people on what they can have in their collection. Like the "GHI's, Novas. RIO's, and any thing else I missed I want to produce that! But I've bought from all these established breeders like outback reptiles and others and now I'm thinking why would they let go of something that might be something bigger then a one time 300 dollar sell that I bought them for when people like RDR and BHB spent 100K on animals "Lessers/Pinstripes", saying the price they spent reflects a new morph or having that direct line to Africa buying bags of babies hoping you get somethingand of course I dont have those type of connections.

    This feels like I'm laying on a long leather couch pouring out my heart for buyers remorse, I'm just wondering if you have fallen in the same position. If you have any tips for us dreamers as far as best ways to prove your snake out, certain breeds of morphs to throw at dinkers that can show something abnormal if breed to your prospect, or how to properly document things so when your ready to introduce it if proven, that you get your maximum return or value on your time and effort.

    Ill post my link to my youtube to show you a few of my ideal babies that I've acquired.
    http://www.youtube.com/user/mrxloyal/videos

    Thanks

    Thanks

  9. Hello, I’m researching on perhaps starting breeding my own pythons. My girlfriend got me hooked into BPs. Currently, I have a normal male BP and a male Spotnose (my neighbor gave him to us for free). I understand that there isn’t much I could do with them but keep them as pets. I’m wondering what you would recommend to start with? I do not want to become a big time breeder but this is something I’d like to do on the side. I should be able to handle up to 20 pythons. Thank you!

  10. Mark, There is no direct answer to your question. You will need to factor in your budget, your goals, your risk tolerances and your personal preferences to come to the best answer(s). How much are you willing to spend (total)? How much are you willing to spend on a single snake? How much money do you have for caging and other necessary setup? Which morphs do you like to look at the most? Which morphs are worth the most (regardless of whether or not you find them appealing)? Knowing the answers to some of these fundamental questions can go a long way to getting the right snakes in your rack. If you care to be more specific on those values you are welcome to contact me via email and we can chat in more specific detail. Thanks. -Colin

  11. Lisa Madsen on said:

    Thank you so much Colin!
    I’ve been looking all over for a guide as throughout as yours!
    The last couple of months I have really thought about getting into the business.
    I will start small and gradually build up using the money I have earned from breeding.
    This will be much easier for me given the tips you have put out! Some day I hope to work full time with something I really care about!
    I think I would be good as a business woman, because I like to calculate odds, profit and expenses. I already thought out the costs of rats/mouse bedding and other stuff per year..
    I was wondering if you have the time to help me out a little bit over mail?

  12. Ted Frey on said:

    To start breeding ball pythons is in my future. What cage system do you suggest. I already have a rack system for rearing them up to @ 1000 g. I know females must be larger and I don’t want to risk getting a female egg-bound. That has happened to me with colubrids many years ago.

  13. Ted, I use ARS racks (www.arscaging.com). Big adults work quite nicely in the ARS 70-series rack (7030 or 7010). For babies I use Herp Enclosures (no longer in business) 6qt baby racks as well as ARS’ 1075 rack. For animals in the 500-1500g range I use ARS’ 50-series rack (5040).

  14. Hello im fairly new to the whole python hobby im not or will not be anytime soon ready to breed but i am curious to know what i should mate with my pythons to get me the best quality pythons i have all males a spiderball, a albino , a pastel,and a het albino.

  15. thanks for the awesome tips! my future plan is a male pewter x female enchi and a male lesser pastel x female butter. just getting into them but id say each pair has some chances of pretty cool looking babies!

  16. Ryan Schmidt on said:

    Colin,

    loved the article. Very interesting ideas and concepts that are really hard to find. Not sure that breeding is in the cards for me as i have learned so much in 2 weeks than i could have ever imagined was out there regarding the ball python world. i believe someone must be knowledgeable and understand explanations and formulas for genetics in the pythons before thinking about breeding. Is there any articles that you have written or know about that explain the in depth genetics and how you can arrive to the three and four gene pythons? If so please let me know by posting or via email. Thanks so much for your time.

    Ryan

  17. hello, very interesting article.
    i would like to hear your advice.
    i am not so sure how to start my breeding project and maybe you can give me some ideeas.
    I would like to pair a lesserbee with a superpastel but dont know exactly which one of these two to be female or which to be male.what do you think is the best option lesserbee male and superpastel female or lesserbee female and superpastel male?
    do you think this pairing is ok or should i reconsider in pairing other morphs?
    and what do you think about 2 gene x 2 gene ? ex: lesserpastel x spinner/lemonblast!
    if you have other sugestions please let me know .
    i will keep rereading this article for a long time from now.
    thank you for your time and help

  18. Really cool article. From a commercial point of view you’re completly right.

    I just missed out that we’re talking about animals as pets so there might be some “inner resistances” to trade-in a single morph for a 2 or 3 gen morph, escpecially when I’m thinking about my first ball python. I’d never trade or sell him :)

    Just my 2 cents,

    cheers,

    Axel

  19. shirley doll on said:

    I would love your oinion please…I have a male pied that I have bread with my female black pastel and they have locked many times up untill about a month ago and still no eggs, they have not locked the last couple of times I paired them, I am new to this and have never had a clutch before and don’t really know the signs but am begining to think i’m not gonna get a clutch which is very disappointing. I have a female pied but was only 1000 grams so I didn’t want to breed her being that small, I have also heard that pied females needs to be older to breed and it doesn’t go by their weight, an idea if there is some truth in this? I am up for any suggestions..Thanks!!

  20. Shirley, At this point the only thing you can do is wait. There is no direct correlation between when copulation ends and ovulations begins. One thing to look for in your female is color change. It is common for females the lighten in color before they ovulate. The expression “they glow before they go” illustrates that.

    Colin

  21. If I breed a male lemon blast with a female lemonblast what would my potential off spring be ?

    What about a male lemonblast to a female pastel het g stripe?

    Any help

  22. Colin,

    I would just like to post for all who read here that you have been a great asset to my collection, and your advice and wisdom in the business go a lot farther than many others. Your animals are beautiful and healthy- second to none. We have had many great transactions and I expect many more over the years.

    I would just like to say to some readers here- read this article, print it out and carry it in your pocket when you go to a reptile show!! Before you make an impulse purchase, pull the article out of your pocket and look at it. Does the animal you are looking at fit into your breeding plan? You will likely save yourself some hard earned cash from the free wisdom of a great breeder and a 2 cent piece of paper.

    I refer many friends to this link because I feel it is “The Best” I have read starting out breeding myself.

    Many Thanks,
    Corey

  23. Lemon Blast X Lemon Blast:
    Normals
    Pastels
    Pinstripes
    Lemon Blasts
    Killer Blasts
    You can produce super pinstripes but they are not visually different from non-supers.

    Lemon Blast x Pastel Het Genetic Stripe:
    Normals
    Pastels
    Pinstripes
    Lemon Blasts
    Killer Blasts
    All of them will be 50% het Genetic Stripe, none will be visual G-Stripes

  24. Hi colin,

    Great info, I am just trying to get my head round all the genetics as a newby to the breeding side of balls.

    I like your thoughts about not having a crazy random collection but being more specific. I have a few basics now this years young (albino, pastel butter, pastel, axanthic, yellow belly, spider and lemon blast) what others should I look out for? Deffinatly want to produce caramel albinos at some point, and then down the line some of the more crazy combos.

    If you would add to this (budget restrictions are there I am afraid, and want to make sure I enjoy the whole process before taking risks with cash I don’t have) what would they be?

    Thanks for reading this,

    Craig

  25. Hi Colin, can I ask you a question. I’m 12 and for the past 3 years have had corn and King snakes. I’ve been wanting to breed snakes for so long, so I was very happy when my dad bought me a present. He has just bought me a baby female Pewter Bee.

    My question is what should I breed her with. My dad said he will buy me a male, but after that I can only buy more snakes by selling the babies.

    I want to make as much money as I can from the babies and then buy more expensive Ball morphs and then breed more babies.

    Thanks Colin. Tia.

  26. Hi Tia,

    Congratulations on your new snake and your new venture. It is very cool of your dad to help you get started on a ball python breeding project. Breeding snakes is both fun and financially rewarding.

    I’m not able to tell you which male to buy but I can give you some recommendations on what NOT to buy.

    1. Because this is your first project I would avoid animals that carry simple recessive genes (ghost, piebald, clown, albino, caramel albino, genetic stripe, candy, lavender albino, etc.). This is because you will only be able to produce 100% heterozygous animals in your offspring). While valuable they will not be visual genes. Many people in the ball python business are reluctant to by heterozygous animals from people they do not know in person or by reputation.

    2. For this particular female (pewter bee), avoid animals that carry the spider or black pastel gene. Having spider in the male and female means you can produce ‘super’ spiders. Some people suggest that this is a lethal combination and the eggs won’t survive. Even if that is not true the presence of the spider gene twice (once from each parent) is not a visual trait that you can prove except through breeding. A spider and a ‘super spider’ would look the same. Because you would not be able to prove that any spider-carrying animals were supers you would not be able to sell them for any more money than a regular spider.

    If you produce super black pastels the animals will be solid black and you may or may not be able to tell what other genes are present in the animals. This may hinder your ability to maximize the profit made on your production. Moreso, super black pastels have a reputation for being born with genetic deformities and are not viable. While this does not always occur there is a good chance it can happen. This would also decrease any chance you have at making a good profit.

    3. Avoid animals that can be difficult to visually determine genetics. A super stripe, highway, or mystic potion are good examples. Unless you have a lot of experience looking at subtle variations in animals it could be difficult for you to accurately tell the difference between a specter and a yellow belly (from a super strip pairing), a gravel and a yellow belly (from a highway pairing) or a mojave and a mystic (from a mystic potion pairing). Many experienced breeders cannot consistently tell the difference between these animals so it’s best to avoid them until you have some more experience under your belt.

    4. Watch the market to determine what is popular. At the moment, the enchi, orange dream, GHI, banana/coral glow, and fire genes are very popular. That may not be the case in a year or two. Try to add genes to the mix that are going to produce combinations that are going to be desirable to the community that will be buying your product.

    While none of this tells you specifically what to buy it can help guide you as you make your decision. Try to have some fun with it and let the process be a profitable way to learn about animal husbandry, genetics, business and marketing.

    I’m always glad to answer questions. Let me know when you have them.

    Best regards,

    Colin

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