Decoding the Addiction – Why is Ball Python breeding so addicting?

This article was original published in the fall 2013 issue of the Ball Street Journal newsletter. To sign up for our email news letter, Click Here.

Decoding the Addiction

ImageHatching season is so addictive for me. This is really hard to explain to non reptile breeders. It’s same way when I’m field herping, its the feeling that if you put in the work, go to the right place and look under that perfect rock or board, you might find that animal you’ve always dreamed of seeing in the wild.

I think this is the same feeling as playing the lottery, that element of chance is addictive. Putting a bit of money on the line because maybe this time they will call your number.

With snakes, that emotional payoff is a few steps removed. Its all about putting in a year’s worth of effort just to have that chance at hatching the snake you’re shooting for. The amount of work makes the reward of hitting on that combo so intoxicating you just have to do it all over again the following season.

Look at what you would put into making that dream snake you have your eye on:

  1. Financial investment on both male and female: This can just a bit, or for some, thousands of dollars.
  2. Time & Money spent growing them up: At best you’re looking at 18 months for the female, but it is often a full 30 months before she is ready to go. During this time there are significant care costs including caging, bedding, feed and labor.
  3. Navigating Risk! With the passage of time comes risk. Over the course of years, there are so many things that derail your plans. A few common risks are residence moves, electrical outages or surges, sickness with your animals, long feed breaks, and sometimes even animals that just don’t want to breed.
  4. Breeding your animals: Here’s where you make the final decision on what you’re trying to make if you have more than a single pair of snakes. You have to think through the possibilities and decide which one is most worth it for you and often postpone the chance to make different combo for an entire season.
  5. Your first taste of success: You have a gravid female Ball Python… Congrats! You’re almost there… except you’re not out of the woods yet. She may still lay slugs or infertile eggs.
  6. A good clutch: You’re almost there! Still have to get the last couple of things correct. Well set up egg boxes, a reliable incubator and power back up are key to getting all the way to hatching successfully.
  7. Hatch rate: You’ve done it! You’re clutch is hatching, and you’re 99% done! Will you get a good hatch rate? Here is where your incubator investment pays off.
  8. Odds: This is the absolute last obstacle, the one you can not control. I like to say that I’m at the mercy of the odd-gods. Were you trying to hit that 1:4 snake, 1:16 or even harder? Were you working with possible hets? This is were the real element of luck comes in. Because the win is always in doubt right down to the end, it makes it oh so gratifying.

Every year, this is my ultimate risk and reward. I put in a full year of work and effort to create something that I’ve only seen in my head (and dreams). After navigating tons of risks and sometimes daunting odds, to see that little head poking out 10 months later is just a feeling that I can’t replicate.

When I miss… it makes winning the following season even sweeter. Has anyone ever said these things are addictive?!

Justin K.

One thought on “Decoding the Addiction – Why is Ball Python breeding so addicting?

  1. It all depends on luck, a great incubator, and great parents. I hit the odds sometimes, and it feels great when I do. However, if if not, if the babies are nice and healthy, then it was worthwhile as well. My snake room is solar powered, and sometimes we lose power during storms, but the snakes (and half of my house-large appliances, heat pump/ac, are all fine). I keep my vet in the loop also during the season. As always, a great read, and a must read.

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