Even before the designer morph craze, ball pythons were a very popular choice when selecting a pet snake. Many people will agree that, across the years, the two most popular snakes to choose as pets have been ball pythons and corn snakes. Their relatively small size and generally casual demeanor make them great choices for people who love snakes but aren’t down with wondering if they are about to get chewed on every time they open the enclosure. When coupled with the staggering number of color and pattern variations (from both species) it’s easy to see why they are eternal staples of the reptile world. But despite all of the wonderful qualities that make ball pythons a great choice there is one quality that keepers will inevitably lament: the ball python appetite. The feeding response of ball pythons can be nothing short of a mystifying source of frustration.
Original Posted: 12/9/2013
The ball python business, like all businesses, is evolving. I have seen a lot of changes and, through them all, I have endeavored to remain optimistic. That optimism has proved legitimate as the industry continues to be very good to me. Despite my love of the hobby (business) I’m not wearing rose-colored glasses; I regularly contemplate the negative aspects of being a reptile breeder and attempt to make sure I am doing what I can to mitigate them.
On a seemingly different note,
Originally Posted: 7/18/2012
Later this year someone is going to break into your house while you are sleeping. They are there to take things that do not belong to them; things you worked for, things you earned. Awakened by the noise they are making you confront them and are stunned to find that the thief is someone you had thought to be a friend. You toss him a loaded gun and scream, “Please don’t shoot me!” A few minutes later, as you lie bleeding on the floor, your precious possessions gone, you cry out, “I was always so nice to him. I can’t believe he shot me.” For reasons unknown it never computes that you put the gun in the thief’s hand. It was you that armed him with the weapon he used to wound you.
Who did you vote for in the last congressional election? How about the last presidential election? Who will you vote for in November? More to the point: why did you vote for them? I can venture a few guesses. They include:
- You always vote [Democrat | Republican | Independent]. The candidate doesn’t matter.
- You vote for whoever is [Pro-Choice | Pro-Life].
- You vote for whoever is [for | against] amnesty for illegal aliens.
- You vote for whoever is [black | white | hispanic | asian].
- You vote for whoever is [male | female].
- You vote for whoever is [for | against] gun control.
- You vote for whoever is [for | against] stronger environmental controls.
- You vote for whoever is [for | against] unions.
I’m willing to bet that many people who read this voted the way they did because of their candidates position on as few as just one of these items/issues. Some issues are so important to us that they act as blinders to everything else going on around us. The pro-life/pro-choice debate is as good an example as any. I know many women who want to know one and only one thing when deciding for whom to vote: who is the pro-choice candidate. Done. Vote cast. This is not a blanket statement, of course. I know several women who vote for pro-life candidates, too. What is important to understand is that the system in the United States is effectively a 2-party system; republican and democrat. We can pretty safely categorize the republican and democratic tickets by the answers to all of the ‘for|against’ questions listed above. But in the United States we do not vote on issues, we vote for candidates. And in our current culture the elected candidates almost always vote along party lines. This means that a vote for the pro-choice candidate is also a vote for the candidate who supports a larger, more powerful government, more entitlement programs, less individual accountability, amnesty for illegals, stronger gun control, more environmental regulations and stronger unions. A decision made to only support the pro-life candidate is a vote for smaller government, more personal accountability, no amnesty for illegals, less gun control, fewer environmental regulations and no unions. How do you feel about those other issues? Did your vote for one issue just help to elect someone who does not reflect your position on the others? Oops.
If you know how your candidate will vote when it comes to abortion, amnesty, gun control or unions ask yourself one more question: will he or she vote for or against more controls (or bans) on the ownership of reptiles? And is that position important enough to you to change the way you vote? That’s a tough one, isn’t it? If you are a snake breeder/keeper that feels that unions are a good thing and vote for the pro-union candidate you should only do so with full knowledge that you also just voted away your right to keep reptiles. In our current culture of party-line voting you can’t have one without the other. The decision to cast your vote based on a single issue may mean that you end up supporting things you didn’t intend. It’s sad. But that makes it no less true.
So here we have our conundrum. “Leave us alone” we all shout. The reptile community does not need regulation. We don’t need the federal government telling us what kind of pets we can keep and we are sick of the continuous assault on the rights of responsible keepers. But then about half of us vote for a candidate that is going to support that exact end result. It’s a lot like giving a gun to the person who just broke into your home. You let them in, you gave them the weapon and you are still wondering why they used it to hurt you. Please wake up.
So let me cut to the chase and alienate about half of my readers: When you vote for a Democrat there is an incredibly strong chance that you simultaneously vote to put an end to reptile ownership in the United States. If you don’t believe me ask Congressman Bobby Scott (D), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D), Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (D) or Congressman Thomas Rooney (D). Animal extremism (which includes fear-based bans on exotic animals) is mostly a party-line issue. No, it’s not 100%, but it is heavily skewed toward Democrat support. The fact is that if you voted for Barack Obama in 2008 you supported the creation of the perfect storm that led to the amendment of the Lacey Act in 2012 and if you vote for him again in November 2012 you need to do so knowing that you are supporting four more years of ever-increasing loss of reptile owner rights. Barack Obama appointed Ken Salazar as the head of the Department of the Interior and it was Salazar that made the Lacey Act amendment happen. Don’t be naive and think that Salazar did that without Obama’s blessing. If re-elected I can assure you that Obama and Salazar are not done adding snakes to the Lacey Act and the HSUS is not done trying to use Congress to pass laws that strip you of your rights. For whatever reason Democrats tend to support the objectives and aims of animal extremist organizations like the Humane Society of the United States. If you don’t believe this please research which side of the aisle receives the bulk of campaign contributions from the HSUS. The HSUS doesn’t support candidates that won’t support their agenda.
The decision to vote for a democrat is yours to make, of course. But if you do please do me a favor: be quiet about reptile-keeper’s rights. Stop lamenting the increase in government control over pet ownership. You condoned it at the ballot box. Please stop supporting the fight for reptile keeper’s rights. Do not contribute your money, your words or your time to the cause. Please do not give money to USARK, PIJAC or any other organization that claims to support the rights of exotic animal owners. You are wasting either your money or your vote with your dichotomous actions. If you vote democrat, please send your money to the HSUS or to Defenders of Wildlife instead. You are supporting them with your vote so please have the courage of your convictions and support them with your dollars. And yes, I am being sarcastic when I suggest making a financial contribution to the HSUS. Every reptile keeper should have both a negative visceral and intellectual reaction at the suggestion to give them a single dollar. So I can only wonder why the same reaction is not felt when you check the box to elect the candidate who is going support taking your snakes away from you.
Originally posted: 5/31/2012
I recently read my daughter a bedtime story (for the 987th time) which centered on a young dragon taken in by Princess Aurora (of Sleeping Beauty fame). Starting with her husband, Prince Phillip, and continuing with each encounter with the story’s other characters Aurora is met with storybook disdain for her new pet. The universal reason: dragons are dangerous. The dragon, in an effort to fit in, tries to emulate other animals who do not suffer the same unearned contempt. But dragons are what dragons are and each attempt to be something he is not leads to moments of chaos involving, as you might guess, fire. It’s not until the end of the story that the dragon comes to terms with what he is and finds a place in the life of the story.
None of the characters in the story offered anecdotal evidence as to why dragons are dangerous; they just knew them to be so.
Originally Posted: 2/1/2012
As 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.
Originally Posted: 11/29/2011
As an American I am chronically aware that many of my fellow citizens don’t pay much attention to what is going on in other countries. By no means is that an across-the-board statement; it’s just something I have made note of in my interactions with others as I travel about the country. It’s not unusual for Americans to be so unabashedly and ignorantly ethnocentric that they don’t have the slightest idea of what is going in the rest of the world. Who am I kidding? Many don’t even know what is going on in this country. Jay Leno is good at pointing this out from time-to-time in his late night talk show antics. Most Americans know that something is going in in Iraq but many don’t realize that Iran is different than Iraq and they certainly don’t know why Israel is so despised by them. Most of us know that Princess Diana died a while back
Originally Posted: 6/10/2011
“Do something awesome …something amazing.”
That was the job description given to me a long time ago just before I accepted a position at a small start-up IT company. I was trying to break out of the life-drag called Corporate America and during the interview process I asked for more details on my potential job duties. And the quote above is was what I heard in reply. When I realized he wasn’t kidding I was …moved. I was so inspired that I wanted desperately to do something, well, awesome and amazing. It was everything I needed to hear at that point in my life. With that one sentence I had been both empowered and granted personal accountability. The trust coupled with expectation that was handed to me was nothing less than food to my starving motivation. In the year that followed I
Originally Posted: 6/4/2011
The Humane Society of the United States has at least one (that I know of) full-time employee whose sole function is to communicate the organization’s message using social media. That’s it! Be an evangelist for the cause using the constantly evolving Internet as a tool. The existence of that job represents their commitment to reaching out to a whole new generation of people. They also have an entire division (attorney’s included) focused exclusively on advancing their agenda through the courts. Now think about how many people work for your favorite pet owner advocacy group. I’ll guess ten. A dozen, maybe. Fifty, tops. I often wonder how many hats people in those organizations must have to wear and how effective they can be when constantly switching back and forth between roles.
Originally Posted: 6/2/2011
I have more than a few opinions in support of for-profit animal husbandry. On many occasions I have shared some of those opinions in the blog posts and articles I write. And as you might expect I receive a lot of comments. Most of them are emailed directly to me and most of them are decidedly supportive. But sometimes people come after me with varying levels of aggression and disdain for what I do. Some dislike my love of capitalism and attack me for charging more than $20 for any ball python I produce. They suggest that all ball pythons, even the incredibly rare and difficult to produce multi-gene morphs, should be available to everybody regardless of their ability to afford one. “Unto each according to their need“, is the message buried in their words. Intentionally twisting Karl Marx’s inane words I respond by saying, “No.
Originally Posted: 5/31/2011
me ask you a question: Would you rather have $5,000 right now or $5,000 four years from now?
Not really a tough question, I suspect. Money in-hand is tangible and usable; it represents capability. In order for me to convince you to wait for money in the future it has to be more than what you can have today. But how much more? If the offer was $5,000 today or $5,200 in four years I feel pretty confident that you would still reject the deal and opt for today as the payday. The capacity for progress created by having money in hand will trump the promise of a meager future return. What the exact future return needs to be in order to entice someone to take the deal is going to vary from person to person. But barring extreme and pressing financial need most people will eventually agree to wait for a future payday.