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Old 01-06-17, 10:07 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Breeding advice.

I have two boys 16 and 12. We bought a boa and love having her. We have decided that we would like to breed snakes as a hobby. It would be nice if we could someday turn a small profit but that's not really what the goal is.
So I am asking for help. We need to know everything. First we have to decide what to breed, balls or boas, any input would be greatly appreciated. Next we need to learn everything, what books, websites... would you recommend and last we need advice on where to purchase our breeders and what should we look for.

Any advice you would give us would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 01-06-17, 11:13 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

Probably the best thing for you to do is figure out what species you want to breed, what your breeding goals are and then we can give you specific answers.

I would just research any and all information about the snakes of choice. I like google and when there's conflicting information I bring it to some experts and ask them about their experiences with both. This allows me to figure out which is best.

As for books, I'm not sure what's currently relevant so I can't help there. I would look into some snake illness books though for some basic knowledge.

Once you figure out what you want to keep/breed it'll be easier to point you in a direction of how to set up a breeding operation.
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Old 01-06-17, 12:11 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

Thanks. We are trying to decide between Ball Pythons and Boas. I was hoping for some advice on that first. I am hoping that someone who does both could give us some insight. I wasn't sure if one is more difficult to breed or if one of the markets was weak or if there were more health issues with one or the other...
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Old 01-06-17, 12:20 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

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Originally Posted by Chipper View Post
Thanks. We are trying to decide between Ball Pythons and Boas. I was hoping for some advice on that first. I am hoping that someone who does both could give us some insight. I wasn't sure if one is more difficult to breed or if one of the markets was weak or if there were more health issues with one or the other...
It's whatever you like to keep/work with/have the space for. Doesn't really matter.

From what I know boas tend to be more difficult between the two species.

Markets are markets. Just remember boas have a bunch of babies. I'd find it difficult to find new homes for 20 babies over say 4 - 7 with ball pythons. (assuming only one female breeds in this scenario)
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Old 01-06-17, 12:27 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

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It's whatever you like to keep/work with/have the space for. Doesn't really matter.

From what I know boas tend to be more difficult between the two species.

Markets are markets. Just remember boas have a bunch of babies. I'd find it difficult to find new homes for 20 babies over say 4 - 7 with ball pythons. (assuming only one female breeds in this scenario)
Do they both have the same number of litter per year? And is that the correct word?
Thanks again.
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Old 01-06-17, 12:28 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

Do they both breed at the same age?
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Old 01-06-17, 12:37 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

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Do they both have the same number of litter per year? And is that the correct word?
Thanks again.
I don't really understand this question. Ball pythons lay between 1 - 8 eggs on average.

Boas have like 1 - 20 babies on average.


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Do they both breed at the same age?
Female ball pythons typically breed around 2 - 3 years.

Female boas typically breed around 3 - 4 years.

Also depends on their weight.
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Old 01-06-17, 12:43 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

I mean how many times a year do they have babies?
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Old 01-06-17, 12:45 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

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Do they both have the same number of litter per year? And is that the correct word?
Thanks again.
Just to clear things up ball pythons lay a clutch of eggs, where as boas give live birth to a litter. I believe both will generally have one litter per year, but I have heard of ball pythons having two clutches in a year.
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Old 01-06-17, 12:45 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

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I mean how many times a year do they have babies?
Once. They aren't colubrids.
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Old 01-06-17, 02:19 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

I would wait to breed until you've had experience with the species. Knowing what makes them tick, firsthand, will go a long way to helping you successfully breed. Which, if your snakes are young, you'll have plenty of time to get their husbandry squared away as they grow up.

Next, you need to ask yourself if you're willing or able to potentially take care of 20-30+ babies (my new proven female boa had 26 or 27 babies in her very first litter earlier this year at 7-7.5 years old) for their entire life (or at least the first 1-3 years) in the case of the boa, or 1-8+ in the case of the ball python. I would caution against breeding normals without matching hets as even though you won't be making money either way, normals are a lot harder to move. You could easily end up taking care of half the litter/clutch for several years. Even selling in bulk to pet stores can be difficult as there's a constant influx of these sorts of animals.

Female boas do BEST not being bred until they're 5-6+ years old and 4 years is the absolute youngest you can *safely* breed. Any younger than that and they're oversized for their age, more prone to complications, and will not yield you as good a litter as an older gal. Maturity trumps size with boas. Males TEND to be ready to breed at 3+ years (I've heard of a male taking as long as 7 years before he would breed), but can be ready to go as early as 18 months. This is extremely rare however so I wouldn't count on it.

Females should also get 1-2 years off in between litters, that way it doesn't take as hard of a toll on them and they will be given ample time to get back up to weight at their own pace without pumping them full of food. Males can sometimes go the very next season, but even they may need to take a year off. Breeding is much harder on the males than the females, although females tend to encounter more "pregnancy" complications so the risk is about the same.

Be careful to raise your females slow and don't overfeed them, obesity can lead to failed litters or the death of both the female and the litter. Fatty liver disease is a common ailment in snakes, and boas are especially sensitive to this. A mature female with good muscle mass will breed better than a fat, oversized, and young female.

Do not breed animals you are not willing to lose. Males and females often perish while breeding, it's an unfortunate reality. Be ready for failed litters, babies that fail to thrive, and deformities. Be ready to euthanize any unhealthy babies that would suffer.

These are all things I've read and been told time and again by seasoned breeders, but I would make sure to talk to breeders directly so you can get the information from the horse's mouth so to speak. (My research and knowledge focuses heavily on boas only, I do not much like ball pythons. lol)
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Old 01-07-17, 10:18 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

Most important is to breed species you enjoy keeping. Otherwise, you may find it's too much work for too little return. If you breed something where the demand is less then the supply, you may need to wholesale or really have amazing customer service to get the buyers to you rather than anyone else they could get the same animals from. I sell in various ways -- a local reptile supply that moves lots of animals buys from me at wholesale or just above wholesale prices, the rare species I sell to other breeders at a slight discount, and a few animals I offer up as general sales at full price because those animals have been taking f/t rodents and I've spent a little more time establishing such that even a first time keeper should be able to keep and feed them without issue. Having said all that, I have never not sold out in a hurry. I keep rare colubrids so I cannot comment on the boa or ball market, but for any type of rare colubrid, I have sold out every single time and 90% of the time without even advertising.
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Old 01-10-17, 08:06 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

Thank you all for the great advice. I think we're going to try snow boas. I have been messing with boas and ball pythons since I started this post and just think the boas are more fun. Now any advice on where to buy? What should I look for? I do have a red tail albino het female that I would like to keep already. But I would be good with purchasing a couple snows.
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Old 01-11-17, 12:57 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

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Originally Posted by Chipper View Post
Thank you all for the great advice. I think we're going to try snow boas. I have been messing with boas and ball pythons since I started this post and just think the boas are more fun. Now any advice on where to buy? What should I look for? I do have a red tail albino het female that I would like to keep already. But I would be good with purchasing a couple snows.
What is she het for? Albino? Or an albino het for something?

As long as both parents carry albino AND anery genes in some way, you'll get snows. Since both genes are recessive, it needs to come from both parents or it won't express.

Keep in mind with boas albino x albino pairings are not generally a good pairing as it increases the chances of infected eyes, which happens while still in the mother. If treated early enough, they can sometimes keep their eyes, but they do often lose one or both. Even het pairings can have this happen but I've been told at least making sure only one is a visible albino helps to lower that chance. I would stock up on terramycin when you plan on breeding, as I hear that's the best thing to use on their eyes.

I've also heard keeping the female's temperatures very steady during gestation helps, it's still unclear what exactly causes it from what I've seen, but whole litters do come out without a single one getting an infected eye so it's possible to control for. Whatever the cause, the issue seems to be albino-centric.

Where you buy depends on what genes you want - whether just regular snows or add some more genes. It also depends on what you want out of the snows. If you want whiter boas that yellow out less as adults, find linebred animals or genes such as orangasm that will help you to achieve it. Stuff like that.
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Old 01-12-17, 03:43 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Breeding advice.

Chipper there has been alot of good info provided in this thread. I think however there have been a few variables left out. Lets fast foward to AFTER all the hatchlings arrive. Boas can have anywhere from 12-50 offspring in a litter. Are you prepared to house and feed that many individuals? A 50 plus slot rack, thermostat, 300-400 rat fuzzies. Do the math. It wont be cheap!

Then you can look forward to finding homes for all the hatchlings! Do you plan on selling them locally? Like CL? Do you have a good relationship with any brokers or Pets shops in your area? Becareful with Pet shops and consignment deals. You be relying on the honesty and integrity of whoever your dealing with to get paid. If you choose a broker or petshop you will have to give them wholesale prices. Which means you are getting $20/each versus $75/each.(just a ballpark figure) Your best bet would be selling them person to person online via websites like this one, Faunaclassifieds, kingsnake, and the various FB classified groups. You will likely get the highest return money wise but you will also have a ton of logistics involved with this route. With that said have you ever packed and shipped a live reptile before?

My last piece of advice/opinion would be to think it out to the fullest! The animals will suffer if you dont have everything planned. There are literally hundreds of people breeding boas here in the states every year. If you dont have locale specific animals or some kind of morph dont expect much interest from the masses. Im sure some may disagree with that statement but over the years it seems this is what the majority look for now. Good luck with whatever you choose. Breeding can be fun and rewarding as a hobby as long as you have everything planned out. -Primal
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