Breeding and selling snakes is an interesting way to make a profit. I have a friend who owns a snake that is thinking about doing that exact thing. She had some questions so I decided to find that out for her.
How do you breed and sell snakes for a profit? When planning on breeding a snake you first need to make sure it has reached a level of maturity. You must determine the sex of the snake you intend on breeding. Once your snakes are bred, in order to sell them you may need special licensing, which is very important to know because if you fail to comply with your state’s regulations you will receive a fine.
Breeding and selling snakes may seem like a simple ordeal but in reality, it is much more complicated than having two snakes get together to make a clutch. How do you breed and sell snakes? Are there certain guidelines and rules you have to follow? Let’s find out.
How to Breed a Snake (Ball Python)
There are many factors that go into breeding a snake such as creating the environment for them to be able to lay eggs, making sure they are in good health as well as their clutch, and being entirely sure that you have all the licensing required for your state to be able to sell them.
Besides making sure the well being of your reptiles is intact, you will need to consider whether you want to continue breeding as a simple hobby or turn it into a profitable business.
If you own a ball python and are considering breeding your pet and making some money, feel free to read along.
Part One – Preparing to Breed your snake
There are many snakes to choose from when wanting to breed, whether starting breeding as a hobby or the start of a business, you will want to start simple.
In this case, we are looking at breeding a pet ball python. They are a common pet for many snake lovers to have. They are calm and easy to care for when it comes to the needs of other rare, snakes. For now, the breeding process will follow a ball python.
The ball python must have reached maturity completely before continuing in the breeding process. And because this process is known to be demanding, it is best if your snake is a bit large.
A male must weight over 700 grams and be at least a year of age. If your male snake does weight over that 700 grams you can then proceed to check its sperm plug. To do this, you must press on the cloaca (a vent on the back of the snake). By pressing on it there will be white, cheesy matter that will then determine if the male is ready to breed.
For females, there have been instances where they can successfully breed at about 1200 grams of weight, but most breeders recommend that your female snake be at least three years of age and weigh 1700 grams.
Determining the Sex
It is important to know the sex of the snake you intend on breeding, and this is possible by probing.
Probing is used to determine the sex of snakes by searching for the male’s hemipenis. Within a male snake, there are two-pronged organs that lie behind the cloaca that when extended, goes towards the tail.
By using the lubricated sexing probe, and gently pushing in the direction of the tip of the tail you can see how far into the tail it is. As for the scales to which each sex can go to, males generally probe to about seven to nine scales. A female will go to about three or four scales.
Keep in mind, this can be dangerous to your snake so do not attempt this process without any knowledge beforehand. Contact an expert if needed. There are video tutorials that can teach the process of probing. One instructional video can be found: here
You can determine the sex of your snake by speaking to a professional or a vet
Give it a Cooling-Off Period (And Then Warm it Up Again)
In order for your female to become fertile a cooling off period needs to be provided. The ideal temperature to keep would be about 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a low of 20 degrees Celsius for about three months.
There should be a warm area in their cage at night. So be sure to reduce the temperature to 80 degrees Fahrenheit and 30 degrees Celsius, and then during the daytime, it should be back to a normal of 80 degrees (F).
The importance of keeping the temperatures intact is because you will want to replicate the environment they would usually be in; which would be Central Africa for ball pythons. This is also during the winter so the snakes are able to tell when spring is close which is usually the signal for them to “create new life”.
When the cooling off period is taking place, you can bring in a male into the female’s cage. You can have them together for a few days and separate them for a few more. It is possible for them to try and breed but during that time it is not likely.
After giving your snake that cooling off period you can then check to see if your snake has reached a good temperature. This is usually told by how the snake creates perspiration when being held.
Part Two – Breeding Your Snake
The most simple way to create excitement within a male snake is to put a number of them together. They will soon start to notice and begin to almost be in a sort of stand-off with each other. This vertical stance should last about ten to twenty minutes and it will create a rise in interest the males will have for the females.
Introducing the Male and Female Snakes to One Another
Once you introduce the male into the females tank, you will want to leave the room and let nature do the rest. While there is a possibility of the two leaving injuries on one another, is it unlikely. They will eventually settle down and the two will connect.
Typically ball pythons can stay connected up to two days, and this is important because if they are not coupling for at least three hours the breeding will most likely be ineffective.
A male ball python can take a week to recover from the previous step. If there is more than one female that you plan to breed him to, make sure to give him that time to re-energize.
As for the female, the sperm that he deposits in her can stay viable for about two years. Be sure to look for signs of the females shape changing. From above you can try to see if there are outlines of eggs inside her.
Taking Care of the Female
If there are signs of the female having eggs, you can discontinue the process of introducing her to males. You will want to prepare the nesting box for her to lay her eggs in.
Obtain a lay box, which can be a Rubbermaid container, and put damp moss within it so the female can have her eggs there and coil around them. Once the female has laid her eggs, you will want to remove her from them but in a safe and careful manner.
Once you have moved her away, place the eggs into another Rubbermaid box with a lid on top, to mimic an incubation period. But you cannot simply stick the eggs in the container without making the correct adjustments first.
Set the temperature of the container to about 90 degrees Fahrenheit. You will not need to worry about putting air holes in the container because you will occasionally check on them. You can check on the eggs once a week to make sure nothing has happened to them. By opening the lid you let air in, hence not needing to make any circulation in the container.
Once you have tended to the eggs, the female is next. Try to feed her, if she does not want to eat you will need to wash off the scent of her eggs. She may refuse to eat because she wants to be with them. It is important to have her eat again because laying eggs takes a lot of work.
Finally, the eggs should hatch in about fifty-five days after the initial laying.
Laws Regarding Selling and Breeding Snakes
The exact rules and regulations for breeding and selling snakes and other rare animals differ from each state.
Some may not have any rules at all, while others will have you pay a large fine for disobeying their rules. One thing is for sure, you must obtain a license to breed any animal or reptile. This is listed under the Animal Welfare Act.
As for other licensing, it falls under the rule of each state. So below is listed states that do not require anything of the sort.
States with No Regulations on Reptile Breeding:
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
For more detailed information on the states that do require some licensing and regulations to breed reptiles and other animals, click here.
I would suggest looking into these regulations whether you reside in a state that has no requirements or otherwise because there are often changes in business practices that may call you elsewhere.
How Many Snakes and How Long Would it Take to Earn $1,000?
There is no set amount of how many snakes you need when breeding. At most, you will need a female and a male. That simple. Or you can have more females than male, so you will have a larger amount of clutches to sell. But the maximum ratio of male to female should be 1:4. If the male ends up mating with more than four females he will become stressed.
As for how long it would take to earn one thousand dollars from those snakes you breed, it depends.
The job of a breeder is not as simple as breeding and selling their animals. There are other costs that go into how much they obtain in their salary.
The yearly salary for a reptile breeder depends on many of the factors that were stressed in the paragraph above. To reiterate, the salary they produce relies on how much of their species they produce, how rare they are, the value of the surviving clutch.
With all these factors coming into play your reptiles can be sold for thousands of dollars if that is how valuable one may view them as. Animals that result in good pay would be the ones with rare body colors that are typically chased after by collectors of those species.
Even with the good pay from the animals they have sold, they must take into account the costs of keeping that breed or rare species in stock with appropriate habitats that will keep the animal comfortable.
In fact, there is a large amount of money spent on keeping these animals comfortable. And while it is humane to keep it as such, if one were not to carefully provide the needs of the species they are breeding it can turn into a disaster where no clutches are made.
The essentials for these animals range from humidifiers, UV lights, heated rocks to terrariums, food, and supplements, as well as veterinary care.
There are many reptile breeders who rely on the job as a hobby so they take it as a part-time job, and go on to have a full-time job elsewhere. And because they do not put their full attention on their breeding job, they do no make as much money as those who work on it full time.
Information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states the salary a reptile breeder earns a year of $35,620 which broken down is about an hourly pay of $17.13.
The Possibility for
To begin, a Return On Investment is the comparison between the cost of investment that is a result from investing in some resources needed for your company and the net profit of that company.
Return on Investments can help within a snake business because some snakes need important care regarding their diet, environment, and the supplements needed to have them breed healthily.
When starting a reptile breeding business, the chances of you losing money, in the beginning, is likely. This is because of the investments you make on your snakes, their terrariums and other necessities. But, the most harmful way to start your business is by starting with a rare species of snakes.
When dealing with these rare snakes it may take them a certain amount of time to breed in which you will be losing money the longer you wait, and the more you feed them will take more money out of your pocket. You keep investing into these snakes when you are not getting profit from their breeding.
It is said to be best to focus on the more common snakes, the ones that can be easy to breed.
Those will give you an almost exact amount of time and number of eggs that you can turn into profit. For which you can then breed more of that species. Your chances of making more money fall on those common species.
There are five snakes that are best to breed from:
- Corn Snake
- California Kingsnake
- Rosy Boa
- Gopher Snake
- Ball Python
As you make more money, you can expand your species to more rarer breeds in hopes of earning more profit in the long run. And because you have those common species breeding you won’t suffer from lack of income as you wait for those rarer breeds.
So as you make those investments within your breeding business the more you will get back on your return on investment.
How long are ball pythons pregnant? Ball pythons are pregnant for about four to five weeks.
What months do ball pythons breed? Ball pythons undergo cyclings, which takes place during the months of December, January, and February.
What is the most profitable reptile to breed? Corn snakes, crested geckos, bearded dragons, boa constrictors, and ball pythons are all reptiles breeders sell and make a sum amount of money off of.