Coral Glow Cinnamon Ball Python hatchling.

Breeding Ball Pythons for profit

Breeding Ball Pythons for profit sounds great. But is it still possible in today’s market? And would you even enjoy it? Let’s find out…

Breeding Ball Pythons for profit sounds great. But is it still possible in today’s market? And would you even enjoy it? Let’s find out…

You can breed Ball Pythons for a little profit fairly easily. But if you want to make a fully-fledged business out of breeding these snakes then you are in for a rough ride. It is a long-term project with inevitable setbacks. Nonetheless, the profit is high if you manage to get established.

Is breeding Ball Pythons profitable?

If you’re like me – you’ll never make a profit breeding snakes. I’m an obsessive reptile keeper, and any time I make a little money from my Ball Pythons, I just buy more!

If, on the other hand, you have a little self-control then you can make profit from breeding these snakes.

When you invest in high-end morphs that are either gaining or at stable popularity, like Acid/Confusion, Puzzle, Desert Ghost, Tri Stripe, Cryptic, Pied and Clown, you can make excellent returns.

You can also make good returns selling pretty, but lower-end morphs that sell fast. The good old Lemon Blast morph, for example, always sells well.

The problem is you need the money to invest in the first place. If you want to make more than a few hundred bucks a year from this hobby, you should be prepared to invest at least $3 to 5k to start with.

To launch a breeding program as a full-scale business (no pun intended) you should be prepared to scale up the investment. Ideally, you should have a good $20 to 30K worth of breeders ready to produce clutches.

After all, the great Justin Kobylka of Kinova (one of the world’s leading Ball Python businesses) makes no secret of the fact that his initial investment was $75K!

As with any animal breeding project, the returns depend on how many animals you have, and sometimes how lucky you are.

The margins are high, but not guaranteed each year. No one can give you a 100% precise estimate of how much profit Ball Python breeding makes!

You could literally invest $5K and make back anywhere between $2 and $15K over the next 3, 5, or even 10 years.

Ball Python breeding
A pretty female Lemon Blast Ball Python

How hard is it to make money breeding Ball Pythons?

As a new breeder, you should be aware of the fact that you are entering a mature market. The big breeders have been here for a long time, and there isn’t a lot of room for newcomers to wriggle their way in.

The fact of the matter is, when you first pop up on Morphmarket, or other sales sites, you have zero brand recognition. The market is already saturated, and you need to build that brand recognition over time to become truly successful.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother breeding though. You just need to remember that there are two ways around this problem.

If you do these things, you can compete with more popular sellers:

1. Make yourself useful to local buyers.

If you drive, I strongly suggest adding “free local delivery possible” to your ads.

This is about selling your snakes, and hopefully having a good time whilst doing it. Don’t get hung up over fuel costs.

Offer to deliver snakes to buyers within a twenty-mile radius and more often than not they will buy yours rather than spend extra on delivery from a breeder 100 miles away.

Think about it. What’s better – burning $5 or $10 on fuel, or losing $200 by not selling a snake?

2. Advertise with great photos

Photos are everything now. Nice photos sell snakes, and pretty much anything else. If your snakes are bright and healthy, advertise with photos that do them justice.

If you can, invest in a light tent to do photos of your hatchlings. I also recommend buying a good camera, or even borrowing the latest iPhone from a friend or family member to get some nice shots.

If your ads all have great photos of bright, colourful snakes, then they will sell.

Breeding ball pythons for profit
Jerry the Acid Pastel Ball Python

Building brand recognition

Obviously, the tactics I mention above are valid for all sellers but particularly important for new breeders.

Eventually, though, you want the same brand recognition that the big breeders have. This is what I would call a “hidden cost.” Time is money, and you’ll need to spend a lot of time on this.

If you do decide to really make a go of breeding Ball Pythons, be prepared to invest huge amounts of time in building a social media following, and a Youtube channel.

Almost all of the most successful breeders around today have recognised the importance of brand recognition and have at least 25K subscribers on Youtube. This gives them an interactive market of loyal followers to sell to.

An added bonus to brand recognition via Youtube is that it eventually gives you another revenue stream. Get enough subscribers, and you can monetise a channel.

Breeding ball pythons for profit
Blake the albino clown ball python

Having a background in marketing is better than a background in zoology

This is all starting to sound a little like classic sales advice, isn’t it? Well, to be honest, a degree in marketing would be a lot more useful for selling Ball Pythons than any of my qualifications.

That’s just how it is. You could be a herpetologist, but it wouldn’t help you sell your snakes. Being a smart investor and keen marketer is far more important.

Pay attention to what sells, and what doesn’t. Pay attention to what kind of ads and language work, and which don’t.

Do short, straight to the point descriptions sell more snakes? Or do longer, more detailed ads get more attention?

The answers to these questions often vary by region and country – so I can’t tell you. You must observe what’s going on with other breeders’ sales so that you can get a clear picture of what works and what doesn’t.

Say goodbye to your “pets”

Do you want to make money from breeding Ball Pythons? Then be prepared to sell snakes that are no longer valuable, or useful to your projects.

This means selling breeders that you’ve raised to adulthood and kept for as long as ten years. If you get attached to them, like most of us do, then selling them is more than a little sad.

It has to be done, though. Keeping snakes that are no longer useful for breeding takes up room and resources. If you do this, then you will not make as much profit from breeding your other Ball Pythons.

is breeding ball pythons profitable?
A young female Hurricane Yellowbelly het. Albino, poss het. Pied Ball Python. I won’t be selling this one any time soon!

The most common setbacks

This species is easy to breed – when they feel like it. Sometimes they don’t though! I’ve had males that showed zero interest in the lovely females I’d lined up for them.

I’ve also had females that decide to skip a year, despite being in full health and the correct weight. It’s just something they do.

The setbacks don’t stop there either, just take a look at the list below of common issues breeders face:

  • The wall – females that just stop eating at 1000g
  • Females that skip a year
  • Males that take an extra year to mature
  • Males that just aren’t interested
  • Incubator problems and lost clutches
  • Failing to sell animals
  • Deformed babies
  • Issues with landlords

Most of these setbacks are minor for big breeders. What’s it matter if two males out of 200 are slow to mature?

For hobbyist breeders, however, setbacks with one of two animals can kill profits for a year. This is another time when investing more initially (in terms of more animals) is advantageous.

Breeding ball pythons for profit
The Pied Ball Python – one of the best investments in the hobby.

What are the pros and cons of breeding?

The process of breeding Ball Pythons is easy. They do a lot of the work after all! What isn’t easy is getting the time and money to devote to the project. If you do manage it, you may or may not enjoy it due to the following pros and cons involved:

ProsCons
Hatching babies is an incredible experience!Losing babies is a horrible experience!
The margins are highProjects take a long time to mature
Brand recognition gets you new friends and contactsBrand recognition is time consuming
You will be your own boss if you turn it into a businessThe initial investment can be high
You’ll have an INSANE Ball Python collection!You have to sell animals you’ve grown attached to

The bottom line

You can make a lot of profit from breeding Ball Pythons. But only if you invest a lot of money! If you’re just a hobbyist breeder like myself, you probably will end up spending most of your profit on new snakes.

How much you can make varies depending on what morphs you invest in, how well you build your brand recognition (Youtube, FB, forums, etc.) and to a certain extent, how lucky you are. Research is the key to success, and stickability. There will be setbacks, and you’re entering a saturated market!

That said, Ball Python breeding can succeed as a full-blown business. You just need to invest a lot of time and money at the outset. You will also need to have patience because it won’t happen overnight.

Other resources related to breeding Ball Pythons:

Breeding – ball pythons – Mutation Creation

BREEDING BALL PYTHONS – American Made Exotics

Breeding – Python regius

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