3: Ethics of Breeding & Keeping Reptiles | TC Houston

Our guest this week is TC Houston of Reptile Mountain. TC is a former professional AZA zookeeper and a Blue Tongue Skink breeder with 30 years of experience in herpetoculture. TC and Dillon discuss the ethics of animal breeding, proper care an more!

If you are thinking about starting a reptile breeding project, then this is an episode you need to listen to. TC offers some amazing advice and breeding practices that everyone should look to emulate.

The Truth About Breeding Ball Pythons

As you probably know, the reptile breeding hobby has exploded over the past decade and a major catalyst to that is the volume of hobbyists breeding ball pythons. Advancing your personal hobby into actually breeding ball pythons rather than just keeping adds a fun and exciting challenge but as a hobby, we have done a poor job keeping the breeding market in check.

It goes without saying that genetic morphs are the driving force that pushes most individuals to start breeding ball pythons, which I actually don’t have an issue with. Some ball python morphs look amazing!

BUT… and it’s a big but, are you getting into breeding ball pythons for the right reason?

There are 2 significant attractions that have led to over breeding ball pythons:

  • Financial gain
  • Trying to create the next new morph

If those are your only reasons for wanting to start breeding ball pythons, then I urge you to reconsider! Any successful breeder will tell you the chances of creating a business that gives you positive cash flow is small. Most breeders break even or even lose a little money along the way. By the way, breaking even is 100% okay, it’s a hobby no need to make money. But if you are trying to make money, you may be shocked at how difficult it is.

Market research is essential. Before you add a clutch of new baby ball pythons to your local market, you need to know if there is demand. If there is no demand, then you need to commit to keeping and raising the animals yourself. If you can’t afford to keep them, then don’t create them!

Trying to uncover the next genetic masterpiece has lead to a “gambling effect” in the hobby. Cutting eggs has become a gamblers rush and in my opinion, has caused some breeders to WAY overproduce. The excitement of pairing your animals, waiting for the eggs to develop… “will I hit what I’m looking for?”… cutting the eggs… “ah! 1 out of 6”. Okay on to the next one. If I had to guess, playing slots and playing ball python genetics would produce similar brain chemistry. If we weren’t dealing with living, breathing creatures, none of this would matter, but we are.

Proper Reasons to Start Breeding Ball Pythons

Of course, there are some great reasons to start breeding ball pythons! I’m all for you creating the next interesting (healthy) morph, but do it for the reasons below:

  1. You always put the animal’s welfare first (as TC says in the podcast), this includes not breeding animals with poor health due to genetic complications
  2. There is a market demand for the animals you produce
  3. You are able to care for the animals if they don’t sell
  4. You can ensure the animals end up in a good home if they do sell
  5. You are not trying to get rich

Thank you For Listening!

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